Chyrel's Recipes From Friends

Mediterranean Strata Recipe

Mediterranean Strata
Posted by: Elaine Sun, 13 Jun 2004, at 12:36 p.m.
The Augusta Chronicle

I can promise that if you put this delicious egg, sausage and bread casserole together before heading off to bed, you will wake up to something good in the morning.

The strata is much like everyone's favorite sausage and cheese breakfast casserole. The dish takes on a Mediterranean accent when regular breakfast sausage is replaced with Italian sausage and Cheddar cheese with Parmesan. Further, sun dried tomatoes and fresh thyme are added, along with a topping of Mozzarella and goat or feta cheese.

The strata is a wonderful addition to any weekend brunch, light supper or luncheon. It can be prepared in the evening and refrigerated overnight to be baked in the morning. Or make it early in the day and refrigerate for four hours before baking.

The recipe calls for sun dried tomatoes, which are re-hydrated easily in the microwave. Simply place them in a microwave-safe bowl or large measuring cup and cover with water. It will take about three minutes for the water to get hot enough to soften the tomatoes.

Using the dry tomatoes instead of the oil-packed version saves on fat grams. And, you can purchase sun dried tomatoes already sliced, which will save you time and mess at the cutting board.

The tomatoes are combined with Italian sausage. Remove the casings and crumble the sausage into a large skillet to brown.

The sausage and tomatoes are combined with cubed French bread. There's no need to remove the crust. Just use a serrated knife to cut the bread into 1-inch cubes. The recipe calls for 10 ounces of bread, which is about two-thirds of a loaf, or 11/2 "twin loaves." Be sure to use soft French or Italian bread rather than bread with a hard crust.

The custard for the strata is a combination of milk and eggs. Most recipes for breakfast casseroles call for whole milk. To reduce fat, I'm suggesting 1-percent milk in this recipe. Skim milk makes the dish leaner, but it will lack richness.

The recipe calls for fresh thyme, which is an easy fresh herb to use. Simply strip the leaves from washed stems of thyme and add them to the custard mixture. Feel free to substitute dried thyme. Simply use 1 teaspoon instead of the tablespoon called for.

Serve your strata at brunch with a big fruit salad, or with a Caesar salad at lunch or dinner.

Mediterranean Strata

1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, not oil-packed
12 ounces Italian sausage, casings removed
3 1/2 cups 1 percent milk
8 large eggs
1 tablespoon fresh or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons onion salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
10 ounces French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup grated part-skim mozzarella cheese
2 ounces crumbled goat or feta cheese, optional

In microwave, reconstitute tomatoes in a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup, covered in water, for 3 minutes. Set aside to soften, then drain well and chop.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Crumble sausage into skillet and cook, stirring, until done. Drain well.

Spray a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Combine milk, eggs, thyme, onion salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add tomatoes, sausage, bread cubes and Parmesan cheese. Pour into prepared baking dish. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Bake the strata, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with the mozzarella and goat or feta cheese, if desired, and bake an additional 5 minutes. Cool on a rack 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

Makes 10 servings.

Nutritional data:(per serving - with goat cheese)
Calories: 346
Total Fat: 17.8 g
Saturated Fat: 8 g
Cholesterol: 210 mg
Sodium: 843 mg
Total Carbs: 22.2 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.6 g

Karin Calloway is the online chef for Viking Range Corp. and a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals.

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