Christmas Breakfast Idea

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Like many families, we have some Christmas morning traditions. They started
when my sisters and I were small and our parents worked Christmas day. We
were allowed to open stockings before breakfast and then had to wait to open
other gifts under the tree until everyone gathered at home. Stocking stuffers are
still really important to us. The breakfast menu has changed over the years.
Frequently we had a casserole that had been made the day before and required
very little preparation that morning. These kinds of casseroles are often called
strata because when assembled they resemble layers of rock or soil in nature
which are also called strata. In the casserole, these layers are made up of bread,
cheese, vegetables, and/or meat over which a mixture of eggs and milk is poured.
When it cooks up it is cheesy, eggy, and custard-like.

This month in her Brunswick Buzz newsletter, our Family and Consumer Science
Extension Agent, Meghan Lassiter features a recipe for vegetable-based strata.
You can go to our Facebook page or website and sign-up for the newsletter. You
can also follow along with Lassiter as she demonstrates this recipe on our
YouTube channel.


Spinach and Swiss Mushroom Strata

casserole with mushroom, spinach, and swiss

 Ingredients

  • 1 loaf of whole wheat bread (about a pound)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms
  • 8 ounces spinach
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 8 ounces shredded Swiss cheese
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups non-fat milk
  • 1 Tablespoon seasoning of your choice (sage, paprika, nutmeg, etc.)

Directions

  1. Plan to prepare the strata the day before eating and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Wash hands and kitchen counter before beginning to cook.
  3. The first step is to toast the bread. Heat oven to 300°F. Tear bread into 1inch pieces and spread them out single layer on a large baking sheet. Toast the bread pieces until they are somewhat dry. Be careful not to burn the bread as it will toast quickly.
  4. While the bread is toasting, chop the onion, mushrooms, and spinach.
  5. Heat a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat and add olive oil. Then add the garlic and onion. Once the onion is slightly translucent (about 5 minutes), add the mushrooms and let them brown (another 5 minutes).
  6. After the mushrooms have browned, add the spinach and sauté until it is wilted (about 2-3 minutes). Remove vegetables from the heat and set aside.
  7. Spray a three-quart casserole or 9”x 13” baking dish with a non-stick spray. Begin to layer half of the toasted bread pieces, top that with half the vegetables, and finally half the cheese. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
  8. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, and seasonings together. Pour this mixture over the bread and vegetables. Be sure to pour it over the entire dish so that all the bread is soaked and moist. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour but overnight is best.
  9. The next day, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and bake the casserole, uncovered for 50 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
  10. Let the strata sit for about 15 minutes after you take out of the oven to allow it to set up before serving.

Makes six to eight servings.

Additional tips for making strata:

  • Don’t keep uncooked strata in the refrigerator for more than 24 hours. If
    you need more time, make ahead and freeze uncooked. Thaw in
    the refrigerator overnight. If it isn’t completely thawed before putting it into the oven it may take a little longer to cook.
  • Refrigerate any leftovers within two hours. Once cooked the strata can be
    stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Cooked strata can be frozen, for
    the best quality eat within three months.
  • Serve the strata with a side of fruit for a well-rounded breakfast.
  • Strata are usually served for breakfast but are hearty enough for any meal.
    • This is one of those recipes where you could really experiment with the ingredients. Use up day-old or slightly stale bread. Really soft white bread may get a little too soggy, but hearty whole-grain bread works great while adding some fiber to your diet.
  • Instead of Swiss cheese, go for brie, gruyere, Parmesan, mozzarella, or just
    old-fashioned cheddar. Or add a couple of these together.
  • This strata can be adapted to use other vegetables. Try your favorites. How
    about kale, tomatoes, celery, or peppers?
  • You could add cooked meat such as crumbled breakfast sausage, bacon,
    Italian sweet sausage or diced ham, too.
  • Don’t know what seasoning to use? Try nutmeg or paprika, cayenne or hot
    pepper flakes or a little dry mustard.

You can sign-up for the email newsletter by contacting Meghan Lassiter at our office here in Brunswick County by phone or through our website under the Newsletter tab.

Recipe adapted from Budget Byte$.

This article was written by Cheryle Syracuse for the Family and Consumer Sciences column in the Brunswick Beacon. Syracuse is a Family and Consumer Science staff member and can be reached at NC Cooperative Extension, Brunswick County Center – 910-253-2610 or by email at Cheryle_Syracuse@ncsu.edu.