Southwest Strata

I got into making stratas a few years ago, when I found myself in need of a relatively easy and quick dish to make for brinner, and happened to have a lot of bread sitting around that I didn’t want to go to waste.

A strata is basically a casserole thingy where stale bread and veggies are baked and set in an eggy-milk mixture. The possibilities of how you choose to compose it are pretty endless so far as the mix-ins are concerned. I’ve made two before that I’ve shared on here, with really great results. (Here, and here.) Today, I’m sharing a third.

While the meat- base itself is like others in having sausage, this time, I decided to make a strata with a southwestern flavor profile; put another way, the mix-ins and spices matched with things I typically like to put in my tacos and burritos. I used sauteed red peppers, onions, green chiles, spinach and corn as my veggies. I also seasoned the egg base with a good deal of cumin and smoked paprika.

One thing I will say when it comes to the egg-milk base: it’s always better to have too much than too little. If there’s not enough egg-milk custard poured over the strata and allowed to set, then it’s not going to bind and hold together while it bakes.

Another thing to be mindful of is the size of the baking dish you use. You want to make sure it’s high enough to be able to accommodate/fit both the ingredients and the egg custard, so I would strongly recommend using one that’s between 2.5-3 inches high, and also placing the bakign dish itself on top of a sheet pan while it bakes–just in case there’s seepage.

Keep in mind that because stratas are so customizable/adaptable, you can be very preferential with how you choose to fill this thing. For instance, I didn’t use mushrooms, beans or salsa , but those are all mix-in options that would work very well in this. You can also feel free to use whichever cheese you prefer on top.

If you’re in need of a hearty, stick-to-your-ribs breakfast/brunch dish that feeds a crowd (especially on/for holidays, for instance) look no further. This strata is the way to go. For such a small and relatively simply list of ingredients, it makes a TON of food that’s very filling and quite delicious if I say so myself.

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Southwest Strata

Recipe by Jess@CookingisMySport

Ingredients

  • 10-12 cups lightly packed garlic or herb flavored bread, slightly stale and cubed (I used leftover rolls from this recipe, but really any sturdy herb-y bread will work)
  • 3 lbs. ground pork sausage (or turkey sausage, if you prefer)
  • 3 red bell peppers, chopped into cubes or strips, your preference
  • 2 large yellow sweet onions, chopped into cubes or strips, your preference
  • 20 oz frozen spinach, cooked according to package and squeezed completely dry
  • 8 oz. canned diced green chiles
  • 15 oz. canned yellow corn
  • 16 large eggs
  • 3 cups milk
  • Onion powder, garlic powder, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumim
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican Blend cheese

Directions

Spray a 13 x 9 baking dish (I recommend one that’s roughly 3 inches high) with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat a few tablespoons of canola or vegetable oil to medium heat.

Brown the sausage, then drain off excess grease. Set the sausage aside in a large-medium size bowl.

Add some more oil the skillet, and saute first the bell peppers, then the onions until they are softened and translucent. Combine the peppers and onions with the canned corn and green chiles in a medium sized bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and seasonings until well combined and yolks are broken.

Layer a third of the cubed bread in the bottom of the dish. Add a layer of the sausage. Add a layer of the vegetables. Add a layer of the spinach. Repeat until you’ve layered all the bread, vegetables and sausage in the dish.

Pour the egg-milk mixture over the strata, using a rubber spatula to ensure that it gets into the corners and absorbs all of the ingredients. This may take some patience to allow the liquid to seep into the bread. (It’s also okay if you don’t use all of it in this step. Save the excess for later.)

Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours and up to 24 hours. (If chilling for later, be sure to let the strata sit at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before baking.) 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you have excess milk-egg mixture leftover, pour the remainder over the strata, using a rubber spatula to help absorb it into the ingredients. Place the baking dish on top of a foil lined sheet pan and cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil.

Bake the strata until puffed, golden brown around the edges, and set in the center, about 60-70 minutes. (Insert a knife in the center; if it comes out clean and without eggy residue, it’s ready.)

Remove the strata from the oven, remove the foil, and preheat broiler.

Sprinkle the top with the 1 cup or as much cheese as desired. Return to the oven and broil until the cheese is browned and bubbling.

Allow to sit for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #448.