The Stratasphere

I've realized of late, or maybe I have always known but it feels more profound because the winter adds an extra layer of comfort seeking to the daily repertoire, that I love the robust goodness that is strata. Beyond the comfort factor, it brings textures together from different worlds to coexist: crusty breads, tender vegetables, sharp cheeses. It also enables us to waste not. Stale bread or sad slightly wilted escarole is no longer beyond salvaging. 

IMG_0741.JPG

My very first Staub piece came from Molly Yeh, as part of her book launch giveaway so it's especially dear because I love her work and her willingness to build up other home cooks and invite them into her narrative. 

Thus far I have used this beauty for mains where bread/cake is the protagonist- Panettone French Toast and this Vegetable, Egg, and Cheddar Strata. But next up I am definitely making Molly's Tater Tot Hot Dish, from "Molly on the Range."  

I hope you'll join me on a trip to the stratasphere.  

IMG_0743.JPG

You'll need:  

  • Cooking spray  
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil  
  • 1 cup sliced bell peppers
  • 1 cup sliced zucchini
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 pepper, divided
  • 8 cups cubed day old, crusty bakery bread
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar or jack cheese
  • 3 cups milk
  • 6 large eggs 

To prepare: 

  1. Coat 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat; add peppers zucchini or your desired combination of crunchy vegetables and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 8 minutes.  
  3. Stir in thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper; remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Place half of bread cubes in even layer in baking dish, then top with half of vegetable mixture and half of cheese. Add remaining bread cubes, then remaining vegetables and cheese.
  5. In large bowl, whisk together milk, eggs and remaining 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture evenly over bread, vegetables and cheese in baking dish. 
  6. Here you can refrigerate  for several hours or overnight. I was hungry. I put it right in the oven and it turned out beautifully. 
  7. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake uncovered for 45 to 60 minutes or until golden brown on top and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Adapted from Cabot Cheddar