This was an egg-cellent Easter hearty brunch dish layered with a seedy bread (I used Fressen Artisan Jogger bread with Unbleached White Flour, Yeast, Sea Salt, Pumpkin Seed, Flaxseed, Sesame Seed, and Sunflower Seed), an Italian seasoned colorful mix of sweet baby bell peppers in a cheerful variety of colors, savory Swiss Emmenthaler cheese, and bacon. As with any strata, the key to this recipe is to let it sit overnight. This makes it great for any brunch, be it a holiday or anyday, as you just have to pop it in the oven in the morning.
The seasoning for the baby bell peppers is similar to one for marinating bell peppers Italian style- the only difference was I was using less bell pepper (but the seasoning could then help the bread/strata), I diced instead of cutting into slices, and I didn’t use any vinegar along with the garlic, basil, and parsley. Otherwise, you could easily just stop at step 1.
To make this strata a little more health friendly, I used egg whites and skim milk. You can also substitute turkey or veggie bacon: I like to bake mine in the oven. Don’t forget to use towels to soak up any extra (though I confess I always pour leftover bacon fat after removing the bacon from the pan into a Corningware container for cooking use later…). To keep it crispy, I added it at the end, but if you want to use other meats, such as diced ham, turkey, sausage etc. you can do so by adding it into the strata at the same step as the sauteed veggies.
The original recipe calls for sourdough, but I continue to feed my addiction and love of the Bavarian bread from the artisan bakery, Fressen Bakery. Here’s a glance of their various baked bread that they offer at the Portland Farmers Market on Saturday…
Ingredients (serves 8):
- 1 cup of chopped onion
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 cups of red, orange and yellow sweet baby bell peppers, seeds removed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 clove of minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon of chopped basil
- 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
- 6 slices of 1 inch thick slices of bread
- 4 tablespoons of softened butter
- 2 1/2 cups, or 10 ounces, of shredded cheese (I used Swiss Emmenthaler, but you can choose cheddar or what you’d like)
- 6 eggs (I used egg whites only)
- 2 cups of milk (I used skim)
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon of ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon of dijon mustard
- 1 cup of cooked and crumbled/chopped bacon (this is equivalent to about 5 slices)
- Saute the chopped onion with the 3 tablespoons of olive oil on medium high heat in a pan until translucent and caramelized. Add the sweet bell peppers and saute for an additional 4-5 minutes, or until the peppers begin to soften. Turn down the heat to low, and add the garlic. Saute for 2 minutes more. Turn off the heat and add the basil and parsley, toss to combine.
- Butter the bread with the 1/4 cup of softened butter and then cut the bread into cubes.
- Grease a 13×9 inch 4 quart baking dish. Place the bread inside, and then distribute the chopped onion pepper mixture, and then top with some of the cheese- about 1 3/4 cup of the cheese.
- In a bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, salt, cumin, and mustard together. Pour over the bread mixture in the baking dish. Cover and refrigerate the mixture overnight.
- When ready, remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake (uncovered) for 45 minutes.
- Uncover the dish and sprinkle with the remaining cheese and the crumbled bacon. Bake 10-15 minutes longer- a knife inserted into the center should come out clean. Let stand at least 10 minutes before cutting.
Besides the strata, friends brought ham that she glazed with brown sugar honey and mustard mixture, and I also made a Dill and lemon butter carrot dish and some Crispy Smashed Potatoes using red potatoes (and I always like to keep the skin on) for our Easter meal.