I love having people over for dinner, but too often I don’t actually sit down and eat with them. Brunch is a different story. Kids can help themselves to bagels, scones and fruit, and adults can dig into this savory egg, cheese and sausage strata. I make it the night before, and all I have to do that morning is pop it in a hot oven and take it out, browned and bubbling, when guests arrive. Lighter than quiche and easier than a fritatta to make ahead, strata is a fuss-free way to serve eggs to a crowd.
Like quiche and frittata, strata is a great way for using up whatever ingredients you have on hand. Vegetables of course would be wonderful – mushrooms, onions, peppers, zucchini, asparagus, spinach, even potatoes. You can’t go wrong with cheese – creamy goat cheese, ricotta or even cream cheese; or any good melting cheese, such as mozzarella, fontina, gruyere, gouda or monterey jack. Instead of sausage you could use bacon, pancetta or ham. Strata is an excellent way to give leftover holiday ham a new and exciting life.
This strata is one of my mother-in-law’s Christmas traditions and one that kids and adults both look forward to every year, so we don’t usually tinker with the basic recipe at Christmastime. I usually make it for her the day before, while she is busy getting ready for the Christmas Day stampede of 23 kids and grandkids. We make a quadruple batch in two large pans, which is just as easy as making a single batch (just requires clearing out more refrigerator room).
Assembling the strata is easy. Preparation time just depends on what you’re putting in it. Vegetables should be sauteed first. Meats that require precooking, such as sausage or bacon, also to be browned first and drained of excess fat. Here I’m using a spicy chicken sausage.
Break up meat and cook until well browned.
Beat eggs with salt, pepper and ground mustard.
Now for the quick assembly. Strata is derived from Italian meaning “layered” – and many recipes call for layering ingredients between layers of buttered bread. This recipe uses less bread than most, which makes for a more custardy strata. Cubed bread makes things simpler.
Crumbled sausage (or other fillings).
Pour in the egg mixture and it’s all set. Refrigerate overnight.
Bake in the morning, and voila!
Eat, relax and enjoy your guests.
Egg, Cheese and Sausage Strata
Easier than a quiche or frittata, this make-ahead dish frees you up to enjoy visiting with brunch guests. Adjust the strata fillings for whatever ingredients you have on hand.
- 6 eggs
- 2 slices bread, cubed (can use more for thicker casserole; this amount will give you a more custardy texture)
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1 pound sausage (3/4 lb is also plenty)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
- Saute sausage until well browned, breaking up meat with spoon.
- In large bowl, beat eggs with salt, pepper and ground mustard.
- Add milk; mix well.
- Butter 2-quart baking dish.
- Add bread cubes evenly in baking dish.
- Sprinkle sausage over bread cubes.
- Sprinkle grated cheese over sausage.
- Pour egg mixture into baking dish. Poke down any floating bread cubes to make sure egg mixture gets absorbed.
- Cover baking dish and refrigerate overnight.
- Remove strata from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Bake strata for 50-60 minutes, until browned on top and knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Serves 4-6 adults.
- Recipe doubles easily for baking in 4-qt dish.
- Like quiche and frittata, this egg dish takes well to all kinds of meat or vegetable fillings, so feel free to get creative. The important thing is to make sure vegetables are cooked/sauteed first, and that any meat that requires precooking, eg bacon or sausage, is browned and drained first.
Here’s a link to the printable version: Egg, cheese and sausage strata recipe for printing.