CEiMB: Vegetable Cheese Strata

I’ve never had a strata let alone made one so I really didn’t know what to expect from the dish when I saw this week’s CEiMB pick, chosen by Jenn H at A Mid-Life Culinary Adventure. After looking over the ingredient list, I was still not really sure what the end result would be like, but I had high hopes. Aside from the mushrooms, I enjoy all the other components on their own, so mixing them together must yield something tasty.

The prep was fairly easy, and it’s always nice to have dinner ready-made the next night. There is nothing better than coming home after a long day, and simply putting dinner in the oven to bake. No mess, no fuss. The strata was looking really yummy while it baked, which was a nice contrast to the dish of slop it looked like before going into the oven. I was hoping the center would get a little more browned, but the edges were getting almost too brown so I settled for taking it out just past the hour mark.

Since Ryan hates eggs and isn’t much a fan of veggies, I was a little skeptical about how well this recipe would go over, but he was a trooper and agreed to try it. As soon I went to serve it, I started to get nervous. The consistency of it was much different than I expected. I don’t know what I thought would happen to the bread after it had been sitting in the eggs overnight, but I really wasn’t anticipating mush. We both tried to force our way through the small pieces I put on our plates, but we couldn’t. We picked around the edges, eating the crunchy, browned bits, but the middle texture of mushy bread and eggs was just not appetizing.

Having no previous experience with this type of egg dish, I’m not sure if the mushiness is a product of this recipe, something I did wrong, or just the texture of stratas in general. I won’t give up on the idea completely, but I doubt I’ll be making anything that involves soaking bread overnight again any time soon.

Vegetable Cheese Strata

4 teaspoons canola oil
1 medium Vidalia onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
4 ounces mushrooms, chopped
½ loaf whole wheat baguette, cubed
4 eggs
4 egg whites
1 cup fat free milk
1 tablespoon spicy mustard
8 ounces frozen chopped broccoli, thawed
½ ounce grated parmesan cheese, about 1/6 cup
¼ cup shredded swiss cheese
¼ cup shredded low-fat mozzarella
¼ cup sundried tomatoes, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon ground thyme
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent and beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another 1 minute. Transfer the onion mixture to a medium bowl and allow to cool.

Heat remaining 2 teaspoons of oil in the skillet and saute the mushrooms until they release all of their water, about 6 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely.

Spray an oval baking dish with cooking spray. Arrange the bread cubes in the dish.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs, egg whites, milk and mustard until incorporated. Add mushrooms, onion-garlic mixture, broccoli, cheeses, sun-dried tomatoes, thyme, and salt and pepper and stir to incorporate.

Pour mixture over bread, making sure liquid saturates bread.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or at least 8 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the plastic wrap from strata and bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until top forms a light brown crust.

Source: Ellie Krieger’s “The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life”, p. 26
4 servings | 7 POINTS


June 25, 2009. recipes.


  1. Lauryn replied:

    That’s too bad that you were not a fan of this dish. At least you gave it a try. I totally agree — it is SO nice to come home and just pop dinner in the oven without any prep. You always seem to forget about all the prepping that was done the night before! :)

  2. Leslie replied:

    I’m sorry that this ended up being a big pile of mush for you! I’ve made lots of strattas before, and the one thing I always do is cram a lot of flavorful bread in (kind of like a bread pudding) so it absorbs the custard without becoming a wet mess. I also sauteed my veggies real well (like, very browned) to eliminate any moisture in the broccoli. Oh well, we get a fresh start next week!

  3. Sara replied:

    Oh no! This was so good, too! I agree with Leslie about cramming bread in, the only other thing I can think is that maybe it just wasn’t cooked long enough. Mine didn’t over brown, but I think some peoples did so may this just need a tenting while it finished cooking.

    Sorry this one didn’t work out for you :(

  4. nick replied:

    I expected this to be a fail as soon as I read this:

    “dish of slop it looked like before going into the oven..”

    There should be little to no “slop” of any sort by this point. In fact, one should be worried that there aren’t enough eggs (they puff up a lot when it bakes) at this point. My best guess is that your bread still contained too much moisture and/or you didn’t use enough of it. This would probably be even more true if it was the fresh baked “artisan” kind you pick up still warm at the grocery store. My advice if you try this again, and I do hope you do because it was really, really good, would be to:

    1) stale the bread on the counter for at least one night prior to making this dish
    2) follow Leslie’s lead and remove most of the moisture from the veggies
    3) possibly add more bread

    I’m sorry it didn’t go so well for you. It certainly looks promising in the picture though. O.-

  5. applec replied:

    So sorry that neither of you liked it. At least I was able to make two meals out of mine. Ted tried about 3 bites: 1. Because it looked good. 2. Because it tasted different than my usual concoctions and 3. to make sure he really didn’t like it. Oh well… maybe next time I’ll get it right. Doesn’t sound like you’re too ready to try it again. Next weeks CEimB has to be a winner – it’s COOKIES!

  6. Amy I. replied:

    Boo, sorry it didn’t work out. At least you can say you’ve tried it!! And for what it’s worth, it looks really yummy in the photo.

  7. pamela replied:

    What a great picture of the strata. I’m sorry it turned out too mushy for your liking, though.

  8. Alyssa replied:

    I also was concerned about the texture, but I think it may help if you try a more shallow dish next time. Hopefully that will cook the center more without over-browning the edges.

    Your strata does look fantastic btw.

  9. Maria replied:

    Looked good in the photos!
    Possibly a brunch dish? potluck? It certainly looks appealing.

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