Tomato, Bell Pepper, and Spinach Strata

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This Italian Strata is a delicious and easy way to use up leftover bread, cheese, and veggies. It's a savory baked dish that can be enjoyed for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner. You'll love the fluffy eggs, the melted cheese, and the fresh flavors of this dish.
Breakfast
Freezer Friendly
Vegetarian

Every culture has its own “clear out the fridge” dish designed to use up leftover ingredients so they don’t go to waste. My all-time favorite of these is the Italian strata. It's a simple and satisfying meal that can be customized to your taste and preferences. All you need is some bread, eggs, milk, cheese, and veggies. You can also add some meat if you like, such as sausage or bacon. The best part is that you can make it ahead of time and bake it when you're ready to eat.

Italian Strata is basically a layered casserole of bread cubes soaked in an egg and milk mixture, topped with cheese and veggies. It's similar to a frittata or a quiche, but with more texture and flavor. It's also a great way to use up stale bread, as the egg mixture softens and moistens it. You can use any kind of bread you like, but I recommend using a crusty bread, such as sourdough, French, or Italian. It will hold its shape better and add more crunch to the dish.

Customizing Your Strata

Since this is a dish to help you use up leftovers, it is incredibly adaptable. You can use whatever veggies, cheese, bread, or meat you have on hand. Here are some suggestions for substitutions and customizations:

  • You can use any kind of veggies you like, such as mushrooms, zucchini, broccoli, asparagus, or corn. Just make sure to cook them first, either by sautéing, roasting, or steaming them, to remove excess moisture and enhance their flavor.
  • You can use any kind of cheese you like, such as cheddar, Swiss, Monterey Jack, or feta. You can also mix and match different cheeses for more variety and complexity. Just make sure to shred or crumble the cheese before sprinkling it over the strata.
  • If you don’t happen to have slightly stale crusty bread on hand, you can force some fresh bread to become stale quickly. Just cut it into cubes and let it sit out, uncovered, for a couple of hours.
  • You can add meat, such as sausage, bacon, ham, or chicken. Just make sure to cook them first, either by frying, baking, or grilling them, and chop them into bite-sized pieces before adding them to the strata.

Storing and Reheating Leftovers

You can store the leftover strata in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat it, you can either microwave it for a few minutes, or bake it in a 350°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until warmed through and bubbly.

Freezing

You can also freeze the strata for up to 3 months. To do so, you can either freeze the unbaked strata, or the baked strata. Here are the steps for each method:

  • Freezing the unbaked strata: After assembling the strata, cover it tightly with plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Label it with the date and the baking instructions. Freeze it until ready to use. To bake it, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator, then bake it as directed in the recipe, adding 10 to 15 minutes more to the baking time, if needed.
  • Freezing the baked strata: After baking the strata, let it cool completely, then cut it into individual portions. Wrap each portion with plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Label them with the date and the reheating instructions. Freeze them until ready to use. To reheat them, thaw them overnight in the refrigerator, then microwave them for a few minutes, or bake them in a 350°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until warmed through and bubbly.

Tomato, Bell Pepper, and Spinach Strata

Tomato, Bell Pepper, and Spinach Strata

Prep Time:
15 min
Cook Time:
45 min
Total Time:
1 hour
Serves:
6 - 8
Difficulty:
Easy
Equipment Needed
  • a 9x13 inch baking dish
Ingredients
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 cups of whole milk
  • 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 8 slices of day-old bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 cups of baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup of fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F and lightly grease the baking dish.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and nutmeg until well combined. Set aside.
  3. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil and cook the onion and garlic for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden. Add the spinach and cook for another 5 minutes, until wilted. Transfer the mixture to a plate and let it cool slightly.
  4. Arrange half of the bread cubes in an even layer on the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle half of the bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella cheese over the bread. Repeat with the remaining bread and toppings.
  5. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the strata, making sure to cover all the bread. Press down lightly with a spatula to help the bread absorb the liquid.
  6. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the strata is puffed, golden, and set in the center. Let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.
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