Easter Strata: A Recipe for Baby Bell Peppers and Swiss Strata

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…

Fressen Bakery at Portland Farmers Market Fressen Bakery at Portland Farmers Market

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)


  1. 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.
    Baby Bell Peppers done Italian Style Baby Bell Peppers done Italian Style
  2. Butter the bread with the 1/4 cup of softened butter and then cut the bread into cubes.
    Baby Bell Peppers and Swiss Strata Fressen Jogger bread Baby Bell Peppers and Swiss Strata Fressen Jogger Bread
  3. 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.
    Baby Bell Peppers and Swiss Strata recipe Baby Bell Peppers and Swiss Strata recipe
  4. 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.
    Baby Bell Peppers and Swiss Strata recipe
  5. When ready, remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake (uncovered) for 45 minutes.
    Baby Bell Peppers and Swiss Strata recipe
  6. 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.

Baby Bell Peppers and Swiss Strata recipe

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.
Baby Bell Peppers and Swiss Strata, Ham, Easter dinner, Smashed Potatoes, Dill and Lemon Carrots


Watercress Sandwiches

I am a big fan of watercress- it has the round leaves of spinach and comes in nice bite size pieces so you don’t have to cut the leaves beforehand, and the leaves and stems are tender. The taste has the spicy pepperiness like arugula but not as mustardly or with a bitter undertone- more like a hint of wasabi. It is perfectly a mix of both worlds. I was surprised when browsing the PSU Portland Farmers Market on opening day that I saw that one of the stands already had watercress, and I was excited to have this still healthy alternative to all the kale in the market.

I use watercress wherever I might use spinach or arugula, usually slightly wilted on top to finish off a dish. Watercress Sandwiches are one thing I do use these greens for that I do not use spinach or arugula. I have also made watercress and orange soup before, and look forward to making this watercress cauliflower soup from Martha Stewart with my next batch of watercress.


  • 1 cup of watercress, plus more for garnish (I used another 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup parsley leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 4 ounces cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese, or tofu cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chives, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
  • Sliced bread, or baguettes or crackers, etc as your vehicle… The original recipe calls for 8 slices of regular white bread which you remove the crust and then cut into quarters to make tea sandwiches. I used thick artisan bread and made open face sandwiches instead.


  1. Finely chop 1 cup of the watercress and parsley together. I admit the original recipe is 1/2 cup, but I wanted more watercress flavor. Then blend these with butter, lemon juice, cream cheese, chives, and ground pepper. Blend until the mixture is smooth.
    Watercress Sandwiches
  2. Let the mixture alone to develop the flavors for 30 minutes at room temperature, or chill overnight and let come to room temperature later.
    Watercress Sandwiches
  3. Spread the watercress cheese mixture on the bread too make into sandwiches. Use the other 1/2 cup of watercress atop the watercress cheese spread bread (I took this photo after topping the right side, but I topped the other side too).
    Watercress Sandwiches

Easy yum! Obviously I made an open face sandwich because I was using thick Fressen Artisan Jogger bread (with Unbleached White Flour, Yeast, Sea Salt, Pumpkin Seed, Flaxseed, Sesame Seed, and Sunflower Seed) and I wanted to extend every bite of the thick seedy bread with watercress. If you are going to close the sandwiches, for aesthetic purposes consider making sure some of the leaves are along the edges so it can be seen when you close the them. Slice diagonally into quarters, and you can add any extra little springs for garnish on top of the sandwiches too if you’d like.

For some English fanciness, serve these on sandwiches that are cut into small bite size pieces with no crusts, on a platter with egg salad sandwiches and cucumber and dill cream cheese sandwiches, and some tea.

You can also put these on baguettes or crackers for your vehicle of this watercress cheese goodness to your mouth.

Watercress Sandwiches