What is…strata?

If you’ve ever wished for a near-effortless breakfast on a weekend morning, strata fits the bill. You do the bulk of the work the night before, refrigerate it. The next morning, get that early cup of coffee and pop it in the oven for a little over an hour. Once the late risers come into the kitchen, it’s typically ready for serving.

Strata is a tasty dish made of layers of egg, bread, and heavy cream. It is combined in a porcelain casserole dish, left to marinate overnight in the refrigerator, then baked for about an hour. For added flavor, the strata can also include vegetable and meat layers.

These are the recipe steps:

  1. Mix together eggs and cream and set aside.
  2. Omnivore option: Cook ham or bacon and set aside, save its drippings in a jar or bowl. Once the drippings have cooled, add them to the egg mixture, or cook the vegetables in step 3 in the drippings.
  3. Saute onions and set aside. Any other desired vegetables are sauteed and set aside.
  4. Cut day old bread into cubes.
  5. Spray or grease a casserole dish, then add a layer of bread cubes at the bottom.
  6. Add a layer of shredded cheese, then meat, then vegetables. Repeat with another layer of bread, then cheese, then meat, then vegetables. Repeat again if needed.
  7. Once the layers have stacked 3/4 of the way up the insides of the dish, the egg and cream liquid is poured over the entire thing.
  8. Place clear plastic wrap or aluminum foil over the dish, and refrigerate it overnight. The next morning the oven is heated to 350 degrees F, and the dish is baked for about 65-80 minutes.
  9. Leave the dish to cool for 15 minutes, then serve immediately.

The term strata means “layers” in Latin; it is sometimes spelled “stratta”.

The earliest recorded strata recipe was for cheese strata, and it’s hard to imagine now, but it was egg-free. When it does contain eggs, strata is much like fritatta or quiche, without eggs, it more closely resembles bread pudding.

Strata was re-popularized by a 1984 cookbook entitled The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook.