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The Hand Off: Winter Veggie Strata

2011 February 10

By Stephanie Tickner


On Tuesday after successfully finding winter vegetables despite many feet of snow in our corner of New Hampshire, I  still needed to gather a few more ingredients for my recipe idea: Winter Veggie Strata. I decided on strata after learning that Sarah planned to make a Carrot & Basil Quiche with the colorful carrots and fragrant basil she found at the winter farmers’ market in New York City. I was able to buy carrots and other hearty vegetables stored in the root cellar at nearby Orchard Hill Farm and  flavorful artisan bread at Orchard Hill Breadworks. I then gathered eggs from a friend’s chickens, and fresh rosemary from my neighbor – I knew my idea for strata was perfect.

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Strata is a comforting casserole made with eggs, cheese, vegetables, meat and bread, with an infinite number of ingredient possibilities. Since I am lacto-ovo vegetarian, I will be sharing a meatless recipe, but this is a definitely a dish that can be personalized in many different ways.

To finish out the ingredients for my strata I needed cheese, milk and plain yogurt (my preference over heavy cream). As I said on Tuesday, I live in a very small rural town, and the closest supermarket is about a half hour away in Keene, New Hampshire. The Hannaford supermarket across the street from where I work had local and organic versions of the ingredients I wanted, including garlic and herb cheddar cheese from Cabot Creamery and sage cheddar from Grafton Village Cheese Company, both from Vermont. I also picked up some plain organic yogurt from Stonyfield Organic of New Hampshire, and Annie’s Naturals vegetarian Organic Worcestershire Sauce.

I do not have a favorite strata recipe, so I did a bit of searching online, compared many different approaches, then used a mix of ideas to come up with my final recipe. I learned that when you decide to make strata you should allow yourself time to prepare and assemble the ingredients, which then need to be refrigerated for at least an hour, or up to overnight. Before baking your strata, it needs to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, then baking time can be as long as 70 minutes for deeper casserole dishes. It is well worth the wait though, especially when the strata is baking and your house fills with the warm comforting smells of the savory and satisfying winter food that results.

Vegetable Strata

Prep time: 40 minutes (plus 1 hour for refrigeration, or over

Cook time: 1 hour 10 minutes + 30 minutes to stand at room te

Total time: 3 hours 20 minutes

Yield: 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large (or 2 small) shallots
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped (or more to taste)
  • 1 cup carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 medium sweet pepper, chopped (any variety)
  • 2 cups broccoli, chopped
  • 2 Tbs fresh rosemary, minced
  • 8 cups hearty artisan bread, cubed (I used french sourdough with sesame seeds)
  • 2 cups cheese, grated (I used garlic & herb cheddar and sage cheddar)
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 Tbs vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1 tsp black pepper, or to taste

Cooking Directions

  1. In a large pot, boil chopped potatoes in salted water, until just fork tender – about 15 minutes. Do not over cook.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  3. Add onions and shallots. Sauté, stirring frequently until translucent, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add garlic, carrots, pepper, broccoli and rosemary to sauté pot. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.
  5. When carrots are fork tender, add potatoes to the sauté, and stir. Cook about 5 minutes more. Remove from heat.
  6. In a large mixing bowl beat together the eggs, cheese, milk, yogurt, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, salt and pepper.
  7. In a 13×9 inch baking dish or a 1 ½ quart casserole dish alternate layers of the sautéed vegetable mixture and cubed bread until all ingredients are used.
  8. Carefully pour egg and dairy mixture over bread and vegetable layers. Gently press and move layers with a spoon to work the liquid throughout.
  9. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
  10. Remove from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.
  11. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
  12. Bake, uncovered, for 70 minutes, until strata is puffed and lightly browned and edges have pulled away slightly from the sides of the dish.
  13. Cool on a wire wrack 5 minutes; serve.

    Feel free to experiment with any combination of your favorite seasonal vegetables to make this dish your very own.  I look forward to hearing how your strata turns out!

    -Stephanie

    • Marc Duquette

      Great job Stephanie! The finished strata looks truly delicious!

      • Stephanie Tickner

        Thanks, Marc. It really was a lot of fun participating in the Relay. Funny thing was when I first started pondering what to make, I googled soups made with bread since I can get that great bread at Orchard Hill Breadworks…then I realized…that’s just what Marc made! I will have to try your recipe now too.

    • Susie Riccio

      This sounds wonderful. How could I turn this into a vegetable lasagna?

      • Stephanie Tickner

        Hi Susie,
        I had to ponder your question for a bit, trying to think how to create a lasagna that maintained the flavors I chose for this strata. Of course one difference between strata and lasagna would be that strata uses bread and lasagna uses noodles. Thinking of my other ingredients, it seems like the potatoes could be omitted from the lasagna idea. For me, they don’t “go” well with noodles. Also traditional Italian lasagna recipes use a tomato based sauce, which is very different from the flavors I used in the strata, so I started to think of a bechamel sauce instead. Below is my suggestion of a veggie lasagna relaying off my strata recipe:

        1. Cook 1 package of lasagna noodles according to package directions, or use no boil noodles.

        2. Follow steps 2-5 above from the strata recipe as directed.

        3. For step 6 above, mix eggs, cheese, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, salt and pepper as directed, but leave out milk and yogurt.

        4. Mix sauteed vegetables into the egg and cheese mixture. Set aside.

        5. Make a bechamel sauce with the following ingredients:
        * 1/4 cup butter
        * 1/4 cup unbleached white flour
        * 1 1/2 cups milk
        * 1/2 cup plain yogurt
        * 1/2 cup of garlic and herb cheddar (this is additional cheese compared to the strata recipe)
        * 1/8 tsp salt
        * black pepper to taste

        Melt butter in saucepan. When melted, add flour and cook for a few minutes on low heat. Meanwhile blend together milk and yogurt in a small bowl. Slowly add milk and yogurt mixture, stirring constantly with a wire whisk. Then add cheese, salt and pepper. Cook until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat and set aside.

        6. Preheat oven to 375.

        7. To assemble the lasagna, brush some sauce into the bottom of a 9×12 inch pan to cover. Add a layer of noodles, then some cheese and veggie mixture. Repeat layers, ending with noodles. Top with remaining bechamel sauce, and 1 cup of herbed cheddar cheese (this is additional cheese compared to the strata recipe).

        8. Bake covered 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to set 10 minutes before serving.

        (adapted from “Horn of the Moon Cookbook” by Ginny Callan, 1987)

        I hope this helps.
        Stephanie

        • Susie Riccio

          Thanks so much!! That sounds wonderful.

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