Overnight Egg and Cheese Strata

I grew up thinking strata was my mom’s signature dish, until I realized every mother has her own version. You should know how to make it too, but just between us, yours can be much more elegant than your mother’s, especially when you make it in a small dish to serve two and pair it with a large salad. Of course, you can double this recipe for a large crowd and bake it instead in a 9-by-13-inch pan for 1 hour–then watch it disappear.–Sarah Copeland

LC Pretty or Practical? Note

In making this strata look pretty, the lovely and talented Sarah Copeland chose to leave the asparagus spears whole. While this does, indeed, make for a pretty presentation, it also creates something of a not-so-practical eating experience. (Attempting to politely cut through an asparagus spear that’s irrevocably intertwined with melted cheese and bread using nothing but a fork? Not something we’d like to inflict on our loved ones.) So while we leave this decision to your discretion, we’re thinking that slicing those spears into 1 1/2-inch lengths isn’t such a terrible thing. Tastes just the same.

Overnight Egg and Cheese Strata Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 20 M
  • 1 H
  • Serves 2 to 4

Ingredients

  • Butter for the baking dish
  • 4 thick slices (about 4 1/2 ounces total) artisan bread, preferably hearty whole grain or multigrain
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 8 ounces (about 1 cup) grated Fontina cheese
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 to 8 asparagus stalks
  • 4 thin slices prosciutto or mortadella (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon finely snipped chives (optional)

Directions

  • 1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F (176˚C). Butter a smallish, 4-cup ovenproof baking dish.
  • 2. Trim the crusts from the bread. Place the slices of bread in the baking dish, overlapping them slightly and, if necessary, allowing the edges to hang over the side of the dish just a little.
  • 3. Whisk together the eggs and milk. Stir in half of the cheese and season with salt and pepper. Pour 3/4 of the egg mixture over the bread and set the rest of the egg mixture aside.


  • 4. Break off the stem ends of the asparagus where each one snaps naturally. If desired, peel the bottom half of each spear and cut the spears into 1 1/2-inch lengths.


  • 5. Layer the prosciutto or mortadella, if using, on the bread. Place the asparagus spears on top and pour the remaining egg mixture over the asparagus. Sprinkle with the rest of the cheese. At this point, if you have the time, we strongly encourage you to cover the strata with plastic wrap and refrigerate it overnight.
  • 6. Bake the strata just until set, 30 to 35 minutes. (If you refrigerated the strata overnight, you may need to allow a few extra minutes of baking time.) 

Let the strata cool slightly. Grind a little pepper over the top, if you please, and sprinkle with chives, if using. Serve the strata straight from the dish.
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Sofia Reino

Mar 26, 2012

I love making this type of breakfast meal where I can get it ready at night and in less than 30 minutes, it is ready for my daughters to eat in the morning prior to going to school. I did not have mortadella, but I had smoked turkey slices which I used. Loved how the asparagus was nice and crunchy, yet the rest was moist and tasty.

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Robert McCune

Mar 26, 2012

So little work for such great taste! The ingredients are so straightforward and the assembly is so easy. I did not add the mortadella or prosciutto, because I was serving a mixed group as far as dietary requirements. The two things that place this strata above others are the use of very good artisan bread and the Fontina cheese. You can easily substitute other cheeses and it would still be wonderful, but the Fontina is so creamy and has such good flavor that I would make sure to use it. You could use artichokes or other veggies, but the asparagus adds a brightness to the dish. Perfect for breakfast, brunch or a light supper. If making it without meat, it would be good served with some thick bacon slices on the side for those who prefer meat. Next time, I will try it with prosciutto.

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Amy M.

Mar 26, 2012

This was an excellent make-ahead recipe. I doubled it, let it rest in the fridge overnight, cooked it in a 9×13″ pan and it baked perfectly in just over an hour. I used sourdough and omitted the asparagus. Will definitely make again, as it’s a great way to use up leftovers.

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Dan Kraan

Mar 26, 2012

This Egg and Cheese Strata is a very familiar recipe. As with others of its type, it’s assembles easily and cooks quickly. The asparagus stalks add a nice texture, extra flavor and visual appeal to the mix. Rather than peeling the ends of them, I’d snap the ends off so they can fit in the pot before peeling (if peeling is necessary). I like the mortadella option and used it in my casserole. If using prosciutto, you may want to julienne the slices, as it can sometimes be a little tough to cut through.

Testers Choice
Liz Tarpy

Mar 26, 2012

I loved the nuttiness that comes from using whole-grain bread. The custard part was just lovely—rich but light. At first I thought there might be too much cheese (a phrase I can hardly believe I just wrote), but the Fontina did not overwhelm. Everything fit perfectly in a four-cup oval Le Creuset casserole dish. I ground up the bread crusts in the food processor and sprinkled them on top about five minutes before the strata was done. It meant I didn’t waste any good bread bits, and got an extra crunch to boot. Next time–and there will be a next time–I might cut the asparagus into smaller bits to make serving/cutting on the plate a bit easier. As for the serving size, it’s a very generous two-person amount in my opinion, and would feel it could serve four people for a lunch with that big salad on the side.


Comments
Comments
  1. Janet Mendel says:

    I had no idea it was called “strata.” I called it “savory bread pudding” and made it the other day with 5-grain bread with sunflower seeds, a layer of grated zucchini, milk with grated Manchego cheese, more bread on top, and a sprinkle of hot pimentón. A delicious vegetarian meal.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      Call it what you will, it’s still lovely, isn’t it, Janet? Yours is on our list to try now, thanks for sharing the details.

  2. Sofia says:

    yummy! A creative way to include aspargarus.

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