Don’t you just love it when you make something that takes literally just a few minutes, but turns out amazingly delicious and also very impressive looking? Me too! So the other day, my coworkers and I realized that it was someone’s birthday. We had totally forgotten, and felt terrible, so we decided the following day would be birthday breakfast! Obviously, I volunteered to cook something. Problem was, I didn’t think that through…
The next morning, I checked the fridge, and didn’t see much besides some eggs. But whatever I made had to be transportable; sunny side up doesn’t travel well, and reheated scrambled eggs is icky. Then I saw a half loaf of bread and the light bulb went on: Strata! Strata is a breakfast casserole based mostly on eggs and bread. You can add anything at all pretty much, and it makes a delicious layered meal.
Upon checking the freezer, I found some turkey bacon, and a half bag of frozen corn and peppers/onions. Since I always keep cans of diced tomatoes and different types of beans around, it just made sense that a Mexican themed strata came together. Full disclosure: I had no idea how this would come out! I threw it all together, popped it in the oven, and got in the shower.
Once it was done, I covered it in tin foil, wrapped it in towels to keep it warm, and stuck it in a reusable bag to take it to the office. An hour later, after a round of “Happy Birthday” which was satisfactorily embarrassing for the coworker in question, came the moment of truth. I pulled out the pan, uncovered the casserole, and the whole room erupted in “Oh my GOSH that looks amazing!” and “that smells SO good, what is it!?”. Once we dug in, the compliments just kept rolling. Almost everyone had seconds, and we finished the whole pan between 6 people!
All this is not to brag, but mostly to convince you that even though it might sound complicated, it is really not. Even if the combination sounds weird, it does work well. Just give it a try and see. You can make strata for the first time on a weekend just to be safe and make sure you have time to get it just right, as long as you make it. And then tell me I’m right. 🙂
- 8-10 eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 loaf of bread
- 1/2 pound turkey bacon
- 1 cup peppers and onions
- 1/2 cup frozen or canned corn
- 1 1/2 cup salsa or 1 can diced tomatoes with chilies
- 1 cup black beans (or other type)
- Optional: shredded cheddar cheese
- Optional: fresh or dried oregano
Step 1: In a large bowl, break all the eggs and scramble them well with a fork. Add the milk and mix well. Tear the bread into rough chunks. You can also use a few days’ old bread for this, just add a splash more milk. Some recipes call for leaving the bread overnight to soak, but I just made it right away and it turned out great, so it’s up to you.
Step 2: In a frying pan, cook your bacon. You can also use ham, sausage, and/or chorizo instead. Or just omit the meat entirely to keep it vegetarian.
Step 3: Add the vegetables and beans to the pan. Heat well, and cook until peppers and onions are tender.
Step 4: Spray a large 9×13 pan with cooking oil or spread with butter. Pour in the bread and egg mixture. Add optional cheese if using.
Step 5: Pour the meats and vegetables and beans into the bread and eggs. Mix it all together well. You can also choose to keep it layered like a breakfast lasagna, if you have the time for that.
Step 6: Bake the whole shebang in a 350 degree oven for about 35-45 minutes. If you cover it with foil, it will bake faster, if you do not use foil, it will brown on top faster.
Step 7: For the most impressive presentation, sprinkle with a little more cheddar and fresh oregano springs right when you take it out of the oven. The cheese will melt from the heat. Serve immediately, and try to keep yourself from devouring the whole pan in one sitting.