I was watching Martha Bakes on PBS yesterday when this strata recipe grabbed my attention.
I’ve made stratas before but Martha Stewart’s presentation for her strata was really eye-catching. Instead of laying the bread pieces flat and building layers vertically like most strata recipes instruct, she kept her slices of bread upright and sandwiched the dry ingredients in between them. I thought the end result was really pretty and different.
The original recipe calls for Fontina cheese and speck. I didn’t have either of those ingredients on hand so I substituted mild Provolone cheese and sliced ham instead.
This was also a great way for me to test that McCormick Gourmet Thyme that I received in my Influenster Frosty VoxBox awhile back. Martha’s recipe asks for fresh thyme so, since dried herbs are more potent than fresh herbs, I adjusted the measurements and only used a little less than 1 tsp of dried thyme. That went into a saute pan with some butter, sliced onions and minced garlic until the onions were soft and caramelized.
While the onions were browning, I popped some sliced bread into the oven to dry out a little since I didn’t have any day-old bread and mixed up the milk/egg custard.
After that it was a matter of shingling the bread and dry ingredients. I started with the bread and ham, then I slowly tucked in the cheese slices, spinach and onions. The spinach was my own addition. All that egg, carb and meat just seemed too rich and heavy; I needed some veg to balance things out.
Next, I poured the wet ingredients on top and let the casserole sit for two hours to let the bread absorb the custard. And, finally, I baked off the strata.
I let the strata cook until the egg was just set to a quiche-like consistency. If you prefer a drier strata, by all means bake it awhile longer.
As for the flavor, it was okay but I think I could’ve gone more aggressive with the seasoning. It was a little bland. Next time I’m going to use a stronger, sharper cheese, more garlic and maybe some Italian sausage or smoked ham.