A Strata as you can guess comes from the word stratify or to layer. This was a common way to do stews or casseroles in many centuries old recipes I have seen. Instead of mixing everything in a stock or liquid you would make layers, of say meat, vegetables and potatoes. Then add your stock and cook slowly on the stove or oven.
I am thinking this was perhaps a more convenient way for the housewife centuries ago, to lighten the load of a heavy pot they need to hang over the fire. Layer, lift, then pour in the stock.
However the term “Strata” has become known more like a bread pudding, only savory, usually having cubed or sliced bread as one of the elements. More often than not the recipe calls for assemble and fridge the night before you bake so the liquid becomes absorbed. Stale bread was common in pre-preservative eras so this was also a good way to be frugal.
While this technique has been used for centuries around the world, a recipe called a “Strata” is very likely American. The earliest record of it mentioned was in a 1902 cookbook called, Handbook of Household Science by Juanita Sheppherd
This dish doesn’t use eggs and has the same sort of idea as a lasagna using bread instead of noodles.
The Silver Palate Cookbook a best seller in the 1980’s popularized the “Breakfast Strata” and was soon found on lots of brunch menu’s in restaurants around the world. A typical recipe would include stale french bread and layered with upscale items like prosciutto, arugula, Gruyere cheese, fresh basil, tomatoes and soaked in beaten eggs with milk and even wine. Again the ease of layering the elements, whipping an egg base , pouring it over and letting it sit overnight to absorb, made it attractive to a cook with limited time, and those that like to wake up and have breakfast for guests or family, ready to pop in the oven. Our family frequently on holidays will do this in a crockpot you wake up and you don’t have to watch it and it holds the Strata warm buffet style.
This Dish is taken from this technique only I don’t feel you have to let this sit overnight. If the bread is very stale that helps but you can also soak stale bread for a few minutes and that will work as well. I have these nice round glass bowls made by Anchor and they are great for cooking as well as storing. I have had them for years and they hold up well.
This recipe also uses cheese and bagels that are a little more diet friendly. Feel free to adapt the elements.
Individual Breakfast Strata’s
2 handfuls clean and washed spinach
2 halves thin bagel
2 wedges laughing cow cheese
2 oz sliced pastrami
2 oz sliced turkey
3 large eggs
2 slices velveta 2 % Cheese Singles
1 Roma tomato
2 tablespoons chopped green onion
I spray or brush the glass dishes with a little olive oil then place the spinach in the bottom, if you want you can spoon a little dressing of your choice on the spinach.
Next I spread the laughing cow cheese on the bagels, then layer on the spinach.
Next layer the pastrami and turkey, and then divide the whipped eggs and pour over.
Next I top with cheese then wrap in plastic wrap or lay a flat saucer on top and microwave. The time varies depending on your micro wave.
If you like to microwave on high I would cook them in 1 minute intervals.
check, then give it another minute, repeating till it is firm.
I like to microwave on half power so I set this for 6 minutes on half power then let it sit for a few minutes and it is done, ready for plating.
You can lift the strata out with a rubber spatula and place on a plate or large pasta bowl which I always prefer for most things. Then I top with the tomato, a little salt and then the green onions.
Products Used on This Recipe
I can’t say enough about these glass bowls from Anchor Hocking. They are very thick and sturdy and in 10 years I have only broken maybe 1 or 2. I use them for storage which is nice because they are clear and you can see what you are storing in them.
They are also nice for microwaving food in or even baking. The smallest one is perfect for a poached egg and the other sizes you can microwave an omlet or even something like rice or oatmeal.
Velveeta 2% Cheese
pack of 3
32 ounce loaves.
You will not regret this cheese for the smoothness and the flavor using 2 % milk. they say it is 60% less fat than the regular velveeta. It works out to be a little over 1 -1/2 grams fat for an ounce, which makes a nice slice. You can also get this in 1 lb loaves. I know it is a pack of 3 but, it makes a nice gift and lasts a long long time in the fridge.
Laughing Cow cheese wedges are nothing to laugh about. No matter how picky you are with your cheese I bet you will love these. They come in very weight friendly at 1.5 grams of fat for a wedge that is just under an ounce, and plenty for a bagel. You can choose the flavors we like them all.
Great site for food history
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