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STRATA

Serves 4 - 6

This recipe is a sort of savoury bread and butter pudding, which has Italian/American origins, and is both delicious and inexpensive. It can be served either as a brunch, lunch or supper dish. Although I have given fairly simple ingredients, feel free to make your strata more luxurious by including some of the following if you wish: cream or crème fraiche, chopped anchovies, fresh or smoked salmon pieces, ham, cooked sausage or bacon pieces, olives or capers.

Any crusty bread can be used – French sticks, bagels, rolls or sourdough - but it must be dry rather than fresh, otherwise it will not soak up the liquid. You will need a deep oven dish.

Ingredients

  • A knob of butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 courgette
  • 1 pepper – any colour
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Half a loaf of old crusty bread (see above)
  • 3 eggs
  • 400ml milk
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives (optional)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 150g cheese (choose any firm, good-flavoured cheese)

Method

Butter an ovenproof dish, at least 4 cm deep.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and gently fry the onion for about 7 minutes.

Trim the courgette and pepper, cut into thin slices and add to the pan.

Stir and fry over medium heat until they start to soften.

Season to your liking with salt and pepper.

Cut the bread into roughly 2 – 3 cm cubes, and place in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and milk together and stir in the chives, if using. Season with salt and pepper.

Grate the cheese.

To assemble:

Add the fried vegetables, half the cheese and/or any other ingredients you are using to the bowl of bread. Mix well to combine.

Pour the milk mixture over, and stir well, ensuring that the bread cubes are submerged.

Leave for at least 30 minutes to allow the bread to absorb the milk mixture, then transfer it to your buttered oven dish. At this stage you could put it, covered, in the fridge for a few hours, or overnight. If possible, allow it to come back to room temperature before baking.

Heat the oven to 180oC, Gas 5, sprinkle the strata with the rest of the cheese, and bake it for about 40 minutes, until the top is browned and crunchy, and the middle is cooked through (i.e. not runny).

Serve warm, accompanied by a green salad.

Posted in Erika’s Kitchen on Nov 01, 2022