Friday, June 20, 2008

Strata with asparagus, sausage and fontina

"A comforting breakfast casserole made from bread, eggs and milk, a strata is enriched with savory ingredients, such as sausage, cheese and vegetables. The strata is assembled in advance and refrigerated before baking, making it ideal for entertaining."

Did you read that? "Assembled in Advance!" Some of my favorite words. This strata is excellent-there is some preparation involved, but trust me it is worth it in the morning. This is an impressive dish for a brunch or gathering, the flavors are so complementary and delicious! You will LOVE this. You will need a humongous bowl and a pretty big pan for baking. This recipe does make a lot, so just organize a brunch and bake this up. And please make sure you invite me! This is also a special dish (and convenient!) to serve for Christmas morning, Easter, etc. You can open gifts or hunt for eggs while it's baking.

I think this is a Williams-Sonoma recipe, but I'm not sure...


Serves 12.

10-12 slices French bread, cut into 1" cubes
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
10 oz. breakfast sausage (I used cut-up links because I couldn't find fresh bulk sausage that I liked)
16 eggs
6 cups milk
1 bunch green onions, white to light green portion only, finely chopped
4 roasted red bell peppers, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced (I used a 15 oz. jar of roasted red peppers and just chopped them up)**I have also substituted sundried tomatoes in oil, yum!
1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed, stalks cut into 1" pieces and cooked until tender
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 cups grated Fontina cheese (I'm sure I used more cheese than that. I used a whole wedge from Sam's Club--not sure how big it was)

Butter a large baking dish. Place bread cubes in a large bowl.

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, warm olive oil. Add sausage and cook, turning occasionally, until browned on both sides, 3-5 minutes total. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to a plate. When cool, cut into thin slices and transfer to bowl with bread. (if using bulk sausage, just crumble and cook, then transfer to bowl)

In another large bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Pour egg mixture over bread and sausage mixture. Add green onions, bell peppers, asparagus, salt, pepper and 3 cups (or a bit more) cheese and stir until well blended. Transfer to baking dish, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sprinkle top of strata with 1 cup (or more) cheese. Bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 1 hour. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

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