Thursday, May 15, 2008

Ricotta, Basil and Roasted Red Pepper Strata

The weather is warming up. Yayyyy!!!! Heavy stews are put away for a while (at least they are for me) and being replace by lighter fare. Not many things turn my crank for leisurely brunch fare than eggs with substance - and how can you possibly go wrong with a combination of ricotta cheese, peppers and basil smothered in eggs and parmesan. Be still my heart.


2 - red bell peppers, roasted and cut into 1 inch-wide strips or 1 jar (about 10 oz) roasted red pepper s, with equivalent amount of strips drained and patted dry, enough to cover 1 strata layer.
1 - tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 - small garlic clove, minced
1 - 15 oz. container ricotta cheese
1 - cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (about 4 oz>), divided
5 - large eggs, divided
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
2 1//2 - cups milk
1/2 lb firm Italian bread, preferably 1 day old, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices or 1-inch cubes (8 cups total)

2 - Tbsp freshly chopped basil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


For peppers:

Position broiler rack about 2 inches from heat source and preheat broiler. Line baking sheet with foil and arrange peppers shoulder to shoulder. Broil, turning peppers with tongs as they blacken, until evenly charred - about 20 minutes. This can also be done on the BBQ or on top of a gas stove.

Remove from broiler. Fold foil about pepepers and seal. As peppers cool, skins will loosen. When peppers have cooled, peel skins with small paring knife or fingertips. Skins should come off easily.

Separate peppers into quarters or halves along natural contours. Discard seeds and stems, then pull out any remaining thick white ribs. Do not rinse peppers. Slice into 1-inch-wide strips.

For Strata:

In small bowl, combine roasted peppers, oil, garlic, pinch of kosher salt and grinding of pepper. Set aside.

In medium bowl, whisk together ricotta, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, 1 egg and a few grindings of nutmeg. Set aside.

In separate medium bowl, whisk remaining 4 eggs until blended, then whisk in milk, remaining 1/2 cup parmesan, 1/2 tsp salt and grinding of pepper.
(NOTE: I left out the extra salt since the parmesan is plenty salty)

To Assemble Strata:

- Lightly coat 2-quart (medium) shallow glass baking dish with butter. (I used a 9x11 - I could have and probably should have used a 13 x 11)
- Use half of bread pieces or slices to make a single layer in the baking dish, cutting slices if necessary to fit tightly
- Spread ricotta mixture evenly over bread.
- Sprinkle with basil

- Scatter roasted red pepper mixture ono top and drizzle with any juices left in bowl

- Use remaining bread pieces or slices to make second layer, cutting slices again to fit if necessary
- Pour egg mixture evenly over top of strata, using spatula to press on bread so liquid is evenly absorbed.

- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours, or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Uncover strata and bake until puffed and browned - about 45 minutes. (mine was done in 55 minutes)

The verdict: It's light, it's delicious and it's very satisfying. The 9x11 pan turned out to be just fine - it doesn't puff up as much as I expected originally. Combine it with a salad and you have one terrific meal.

This recipe was adapted from "The Good Egg: More than 200 Fresh Approaches from Breakfast to Dessert", Marie Simmons (2006, Houghton Mifflin) StumbleUpon


That Girl said...

Yum! Stratas are my faves!

Anonymous said...

This looks divine. Sadly for me, it's one of those recipes that is not easily adaptable for a dairy-free version. Tofu, while it may have a lot of good uses, just doesn't cut it when it comes to replacing ricotta cheese, except when it's drowned with Italian sauce in a lasagne-type dish.

But I really enjoyed looking at your photos of this strata's preparation. Just excellent.

Katie B. said...

My goodness!! That looks and sounds amazing!!!

Melissa said...

that's perfect. just wonderful! I need that book too. I'm always stuck when it comes to thinking about what to prepare for brunch for people.

Anonymous said...

That looks divine. I've never eaten Strata before.

Peter M said...

Delightful...roasted red peppers are almost meat in this household, most satiating.

Anonymous said...

I have always felt a good strata is one of the world's greatest inventions, I mean seriously!

Jersey Girl Cooks said...

This looks delicious especially for a nice Sunday brunch!

test it comm said...

I have been wondering what a Strata was. With roasted red peppers and cheese this sounds really good!

Lori Lynn said...

I like recipes like this, "buffet recipes."
Thanks Giz!

My old pooch is not so interested in dog food, so I have been adding ricotta some days and cooked ground meat other days, and she now eats it all up!

Jessy and her dog Winnie said...

Looks delicious! Perfect for spring!

Mama Mia said...

Ive never heard of strata before but it looks SOOOO good!!! I have to try making this sometime

Heather said...

Whoa. I know it's not really the point, but I want to eat that with pasta. Is that a sin?

RecipeGirl said...

Sounds like a good strata. I tried a strata on Christmas last year that I was unimpressed with.

Sorry I haven't been visiting so much. For some reason every time I try to bring up your site it won't load. I finally got it to load this time, but could only view a few of the pics! Maybe it will be better tomorrow. Probably just buggy on my end!

grace said...

that there's one good-looking strata. i enjoy layered dishes--lasagna, cake, trifle. fun to look at, but more fun to eat.

Anonymous said...

Yeeessssss!!!!! Ooops? Did I say that too loudly? This looks incredible!

Lori said...

I have always wanted to make Strata. I think we should start a savory club from a book or any books, kind of like Daring Bakers but savory style.

Anonymous said...

OMG! I'm in heaven! Everything here is my absolute favorite....What a great recipe - thank you for sharing.

xoxox Amy

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Look at that golden crust...I'm in:D

Anonymous said...


Elle said...

Oh my gosh, I knew just from the title of the post that this was going to be amazing! I stupidly skipped lunch, and now I'm looking at food blogs. Does that make any sense? This looks so good! Three of my favorite things, all in one dish. Perfect!

Emily said...

Oh, gosh that looks good. I love Italian flavors. I've never had a strata before. Can you believe that?

OhioMom said...

Love this time of year, when fresh veggies will be available ... lets hear it for light eats !

Yummy looking dish you have there :)

Cheryl said...

I'm not usually a strata fan, but I think this one will convert me. I've got to try it!

Anonymous said...

Looks gorgeous!! and TASTY. it's hard to believe you describe it as 'light'!


this cake looks beatiful!! It will come in into my "future recipts list" is already very long!!
regards from Barcelona

Rosie said...

Oh my goodness this really looks so delightful - I just want to dive in and take a bite mmmmm

Rosie x

Elly said...

This looks absolutely delicious! I love, love, love stratas and this one uses some of my favrotie ingredients!

NĂºria said...

Never tasted a Strata before and yours looks fantastic! Why is it that cheese always shows in great dishes? ;-)

Meghan said...

This strata is beautiful! I'd really love to make this!

Joe Horn said...

I just did a strata with Gruyere Cheese and Spicy Italian Sausage. I posted it on my blog. Come take a look if you have a chance and let me know what you think. Love the blog!



wrigleyfield said...

This sounds delicious! I want to make it for a large brunch party I'm having this weekend (with a couple different dishes). How many people would you say this feeds?

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