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I first learned about strata from my stepmom. Kind of like bread pudding, but with more eggs, and you put it all together, refrigerate overnight and bake in the morning for an easy brunch dish—kind of like a savory french toast. For me the name evoked an old world Italian dish, but turns out it's an American creation—first mentioned in a 1902 cookbook. An easy dish to feed the family crowd coming for Thanksgiving.
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Time: About 20 minutes active; 90 minutes total (plus refrigerating overnight)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large leek, washed well and sliced thinly
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound mushrooms, halved or quartered
2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped finely
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped finely, divided
1 teaspoon salt and pepper, each
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
3 cups skim milk
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
10 ounce baguette, cubed
7 ounces smoked mozzarella, grated
1. In a large skillet, heat extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add leek and garlic, and sauté 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, sage, 1 tablespoon rosemary, salt, pepper and cayenne, if using. Cook about 15 minutes longer until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together milk, eggs and nutmeg. Set aside.
3. In a casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray, spread out half the cubed baguette. Top with half the cheese, and all of the veg mixture. Top with remaining bread cubes and cheese. Then pour egg-milk mixture over top. Cover with foil, press the bread into the mixture, and refrigerate overnight with a plate on top to encourage the bread to soak up the liquid.
4. The next morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Still covered, put the strata in the oven and bake for 60 minutes, removing foil cover in the last 15 minutes so cheese can melt and bread browns. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting and serving.
Writer Bio: Adrienne D. Capps loves food AND is a vegetarian! These things are not mutually exclusive in her world. She is passionate about eating, drinking, cooking, teaching, reading about food and growing food. Her goal with her food blog, Vegetarianized.com, is to open up the world of vegetarian cooking and eating to the veg-friendly and the veg-curious in an accessible way. She promises never to try to convert or make you feel guilty—just that eating less meat can be part of a healthy, fun and, above all, tasty lifestyle.