Growing up, a big tray of savory Italian Strata was a brunch staple; my Mom would make a variation of this for just about every holiday. It’s an awesome recipe for two reasons: 1) It’s a great way to use leftover bread that might be a little bit past its prime – crusty bread works great, and 2) you can make this recipe the night before and pop it in the oven in the morning.The make-ahead feature is always particularly helpful at the holidays when you might be waking up to work on cooking a big meal for later in the day – you don’t have to think about what to feed everyone for breakfast, just pop a big tray of pre-assembled strata in the oven and you’re set!The dish has a bread-pudding style texture, mixing together eggs and crusty bread and a bit of cheese with some flavorful mix-ins. This version uses goat cheese, pesto, sausage, and sun dried tomatoes – but get creative with your ingredients and experiment with other mix-ins! I’ve used roasted red peppers, spinach, artichokes, chopped bacon, various cheeses, and even some kalamata olives.Another twist on this traditional casserole-style dish is how I baked it this time around – in muffin tins! I’m a big fan of brunch dishes in individual portions to make filling up your plate easier at a brunch buffet. Reducing the size of the portions also helps the whole dish cook a little quicker, which means you get to eat it a little sooner too! It’s a great staple for Mother’s Day brunch; Dad can make it the night before and pop them in the oven before Mom wakes up! Put a few of these warm, savory muffins on a tray and pair them with a sweet treat like a donut, some coffee and flowers, and a glass of freshly squeezed OJ (go ahead, sneak a little champagne in there and make it a mimosa, Mom deserves it). Get the full recipe below:
- 1 Large loaf of crusty French bread (day old bread works best!)
- 8 eggs
- ¾ cup whole milk
- 3 0z of goat cheese
- 1 Cup of Italian Sausage, browned and chopped
- 2 Tbsp. of sun dried tomatoes, chopped
- ¾ Cup of pesto
- Parmesan cheese for dusting
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Cut bread into small cubes and place in a large mixing bowl.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and milk.
- Pour egg mixture over the bread and combine.
- Fold in small bits of the goat cheese, browned sausage, chopped sun dried tomatoes and the pesto until all ingredients are combined. (If you are making the recipe ahead of time, cover the bowl at this stage and set in the fridge overnight).
- Scoop the mixture into a lightly greased muffin tin, pressing the mixture down slightly so that the cups are full.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes until the muffins reach a golden brown finish.
- Remove from oven and dust with a little bit of Parmesan cheese, serve warm.
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