My First Strata: The Completion

Today I finished and baked off my first attempt at making a strata, which is a savory bread pudding-like dish that uses a mixture of milk and eggs to bind the filling and the bread pieces.  The strata recipe that I modified uses bagels instead of bread for the cubes that make up much of the dish.

To read about the inspiration for this recipe and the beginning of the preparations yesterday, see my earlier post: My First Strata: An Introduction.

Bagel Strata
Makes a 9 x 13″ pan of strata.  This recipe is adapted from the recipe “Bagel Strata with Sausage & Spring Vegetables” from the Williams-Sonoma catalog.  The original recipe can also be found online here.

¤  7 cups cubed bagels

(I used a mixture of “everything” flavor and plain bagels: 5 “everything” bagels, and 2 plain bagels)

¤  4 tablespoons butter, melted
¤  2 tablespoons Herbes de Provence (mine has a bit of sea salt in the blend, so I didn’t add any extra salt to this dish)
¤  freshly ground black pepper
¤  generous drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil
¤  1 pound of sausage (choose any flavor you like: spicy, sage, sweet Italian, etc.)
¤  1/2 cup pearl onions, chopped or 1/2 cup diced onion
¤  3/4 cup mushrooms, sliced
¤  3-4 cloves garlic, minced
¤  1 1/2 cups shelled edamame (Japanese soy beans)
¤  1 tablespoon caraway seed
¤  8 ounces shredded cheese (use the cheese blend of your choice, I used Cheddar and Monterrey Jack)
¤  8 large eggs
¤  2 cups milk
¤  baking spray

Optional Garnish:
fresh parsley, finely chopped
fennel fronds, finely chopped

Equipment:
large sheet pan
two large mixing bowls
9 x 13″ baking dish

Method:
Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Cube the bagels and place the cubes in a large bowl.  Melt the butter and pour it over the cubes.  Add the Herbes de Provence and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper.  Stir the bagel cubes to coat them in the melted butter and seasonings.  The aroma of the bagel cubes is wonderful.  I love the sesame and poppy seeds that were on the “everything” bagels I chose.  There are so many unique flavors in this dish.

The combination of flavors here is so yummy! These bagel cubes would be delicious croutons too -- just bake them a little longer!

Spread the bagel cubes out on a large sheet pan, drizzle them generously with extra-virgin olive oil, and bake them in the oven for 25 minutes, or until they are golden brown.  Take the sheet pan out of the oven a few times during the baking process to stir and flip the bread cubes.  I stirred my bagel cubes 3 times.

A pan full of bagel cubes, flavored, drizzled, and all ready to be baked.

While the bagel cubes are baking, brown the sausage on the stove-top over medium-high heat, breaking the sausage into bite-size pieces.  When the sausage is browned, add in the onions and mushrooms.  Cook 5-7 minutes, until the onions are tender and the mushrooms are browned.  Add in the minced garlic.  Finally, add the edamame, stirring to incorporate the soy beans.  Cook an additional 5 minutes, until the edamame is thawed and bright green in color.

Remove the bagel cubes from the oven and combine 6 cups of the cubes with the sausage mixture in a large mixing bowl.  Reserve 1 cup of the bagel cubes for the topping.  Add in the caraway seed and 1/4 of the cheese.

In the other mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and the milk to make a thin sauce.

Grease the baking dish with baking spray, and spoon the bagel cube/sausage mixture into the dish.

Pour the egg sauce over the strata.  Use a spoon to gently push the bagel cubes down into the egg mixture.

Here is the strata in the pan. The bread cubes will get a few hours to soak up the egg sauce before baking it in the oven.

Cover the strata and allow it to sit in the refrigerator for at least one hour, or as long as overnight.

When you are ready to bake the strata, remove it from the refrigerator and uncover it.  Bake the strata at 350°F for 50 minutes.

While the strata is baking, pulse the remaining cup of bagel cubes in a food processor to make coarse bread crumbs for the topping.  When the strata comes out of the oven, sprinkle the bread crumbs on top and add the remainder of the shredded cheese.  Bake 10 minutes.

Remove the bubbly strata from the oven and garnish with finely chopped parsley and fennel fronds prior to serving.

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