The holidays are a busy time of year, which makes an already busy schedule even more chaotic and stressful. However, I am looking forward to my kids’ Winter Break to celebrate Christmas and to enjoy more time with my family and friends during the times when I won’t need to be anywhere else. Spending time with each other has become a priority. Even my kids seem to get this. When they get down time from sports or other activities, we all just love doing nothing and being lazy on the couch in our pajamas.
For me, I especially like spending my time in the kitchen. We all know how much people love to gather around food, and how central the kitchen becomes. I love blessing my family with memorable and excellent meals, especially my sisters that fly in or drive across the state to spend time with us. My nieces and nephews tell me they feel like they are on vacation when they stay with us – to me that is the ultimate compliment coming from young children.
My nieces also love helping me in the kitchen with any task I assign them. From whisking eggs to stirring in ingredients, having extra helpers is something I really appreciate – and they do too. It’s one thing to help mom in the kitchen, it’s an entirely different experience helping an auntie! Even my own kids love helping in their aunts’ kitchens; there is just something unique and special about it.
One of my favorite dinner meals to make visiting guests is Strata, a savory custard based ‘bread pudding like’ casserole. Made with sautéed onions, spices, sausage, kale, ripe grape tomatoes, cheese, cream, and bread, this casserole is not only a crowd favorite it’s the kind of comfort food dish people remember and look forward to the next time they’re over. Part of the whole experience of enjoying this dish is when it’s just about ready to come out of the oven. Everyone in the house knows it’s nearly done when the scent of deliciousness is wafting through the air from room to room. You just know something good and satisfying is about to happen.
Like quiches and frittatas, stratas are most commonly served during breakfast or brunches. However, they also make great main dish dinner entrees. Leftovers (if there is anything left at all) can be enjoyed for breakfast or lunch the next day. You can also make them into strata muffins too!
Serve the strata with a nice side salad for a complete easy dinner!
This recipe uses, and is sponsored by, Johnsonville’s newest product in their line of delicious sausages: Johnsonville Naturals Original Breakfast Sausage links. They are made from 100% natural ingredients, are gluten-free, packed with 9 grams of protein per serving, and are free from MSG, fillers, trans-fat, sugar, and carbs.
As Johnsonville’s Seattle Spokesperson, it is my great pleasure to share this strata recipe with you. May it feed your soul and help create a special moment of togetherness with all who get to enjoy it.
*Disclaimer: Alice Currah is a paid spokesperson on behalf of Johnsonville.
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 medium chopped onion
- 1 10-oz package Johnsonville Naturals Original Breakfast Sausage, cut into ½-inch pieces
- 6 cups (one-inch) cubed day old rustic bread (bread cubes should be dry, similar to the texture of croutons. To help this, place the bread in the oven while it's preheating in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Remove the bread right before adding to the large bowl.
- 1 8-oz frozen package of cooked chopped kale, thawed and squeezed of excess water
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
- 8 ounces (about 2 cups) shredded cheddar cheese, divided
- 6 large eggs
- 1½ cups cup milk
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- Garnish: 2 tablespoons chopped parsley and fresh thyme sprigs
- Generously pray a deep dish pie plate or 10 inch cast-iron skillet with cooking spray. You can also spray a muffin tin.
- Heat a large skillet with oil and saute the onions for 5 minutes until soft. Add the sausage and cook until it is no longer pink. Transfer the onion/sausage mixture to a large bowl.
- Add the bread cubes, kale, tomatoes, and all but a ½ cup of cheese. Gently stir the mixture until all the ingredients look like they are evenly distributed.
- Transfer the mixture to the baking pan/skillet/muffin tin.
- In a mixing bowl or blender, whisk (or blend on low) the eggs, milk, heavy cream, mustard, salt, thyme, pepper, and nutmeg until blended.
- If baking in a skillet or pan, slowly pour the egg mixture over the savory bread mixture in stages, allowing the bread to absorb the liquid. If baking in a muffin tin evenly divide the bread mixture between the 12 tins in large mounds. Carefully pour the egg mixture until you can visibly see the egg mixture leveled off at the top of each cup.
- Top the strata (including muffins) with the remaining cheese.
- Cover the strata with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, or overnight.
- Ninety minutes before needing to serve, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and take the strata out of the refrigerator to come to room temperature.
- Bake the strata for 45-50 minutes until it is nicely browned and golden. For the muffins, bake for 30 minutes.
- Top the strata off with chopped parsley and thyme sprigs.