From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...This strata is a wonderful way to use the produce that floods green markets at this time of year. Better still, the dish is relatively easy to make. While there is some chopping involved, the strata comes together quickly and the finished dish makes a wonderful entree for a brunch or light supper. The recipe, which comes from Fine Cooking, is straight forward and easy to follow, and you'll have no problem with this dish, if you follow the recipe instructions. If you want to extract the most flavor from the vegetables, make sure they are browned before they are layered into the casserole. The browning is simple to accomplish if you do not crowd the pan and let the vegetables sit undisturbed for a couple of minutes before you flip them over. Unlike most strata, this one can be baked as soon as it is assembled, and that makes it a great candidate for a weeknight meatless meal. This is a nice recipe, and, if you are partial to egg dishes, I really think you'll like this one. Here's how it is made.
Vegetable Strata...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Fine Cooking Magazine
About a dozen 1/2-inch-thick slices French or Italian bread (enough to cover the bottom of your pan), day-old or lightly toasted
1 clove garlic, lightly crushed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups milk or a mixture of milk and cream
5 large eggs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided
Pinch dried red pepper flakes
1 loosely packed cup basil leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 medium summer squash or zucchini, or 1 of each
2 ripe tomatoes
1) Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter an 8x8-inch baking dish. Rub top of each slice of bread with garlic clove. Lay slices in dish in one layer, cutting them into pieces where necessary. Season with salt and pepper.
2) Measure milk in a 1-quart measure, preferably one with a spout. (Or measure it and transfer it to a bowl.) Add eggs, half of the cheese, red pepper flakes, and a generous amount of salt and pepper. Whisk vigorously to beat eggs and to combine. Add basil and stir gently. Set aside.
3) In a large sauté pan, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until it softens and colors lightly, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, trim the squash, cut them lengthwise into quarters and, holding quarters together, slice them into pieces about 1/3 inch thick. Stir squash into onions, spread in a single layer, and let sit undisturbed for 1 to 2 minutes to encourage browning; check color before you turn them.
4) Meanwhile, halve and seed tomatoes. Coarsely chop them. When squash is lightly browned on both sides and crisp-tender, add tomatoes, stir to toss, and take vegetables off the heat.
5) With a slotted spoon, transfer vegetables to baking dish, spreading them evenly over bread. Give milk and egg mixture a stir and gently pour it all into the dish. Top with the remaining cheese. Bake until milk and egg mixture sets, about 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool at least 5 minutes, slice into squares with the edge of a spatula, and use the spatula to lift out the pieces. Yield: 4 to 6 servings.
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