Vegetarian Strata with Broccoli and Mushrooms

Vegetarian Strata with Broccoli and Mushrooms

Whenever I make bread, I struggle with the storage details. Should I freeze half of the loaf? Should I slice and freeze the whole thing, taking out pieces as needed? Should I leave the whole loaf out on the counter so it’s ready whenever we want it? The dilemma comes from the fact that there are just two of us eating it, and I prefer to leave it on the counter but that turns into a bread binge race against time to eat it before it goes stale or moldy.

And this was the situation I found myself in this week: half of a loaf on the counter, starting to loose it’s freshly-baked vitality. I thought back to recipes I’ve seen or made that used a lot of bread and remembered a ham and cheese strata from my favorite childhood cookbook from the 80s, Better Homes and Gardens New Junior Cookbook. A quick recipe search led me to As-You-Like-It Breakfast Casserole from simplyrecipes.com and I was well on my way to developing my version of that strata, updated for homemade bread and non-meat-eaters.

Vegetarian Strata with Broccoli and Mushrooms

Even though there’s not meat, this strata is hearty and filling. The flavor is relatively mild, and it doesn’t taste cheese-heavy, so seasonings can easily be adjusted for more oomph.

Vegetarian Strata with Broccoli and Mushrooms

Adapted from As-You-Like-It Breakfast Casserole

Serves 8

Vegetarian Strata with Broccoli and Mushrooms

Ingredients

  • 8 eggs
  • 6 1/2 oz grated cheddar cheese
  • 6 slices bread, cut into cubes
  • 2 cups milk
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 12 oz frozen broccoli
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 1/2 tsp butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4-6 green onions, sliced
  • 1 tsp dried thyme

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Butter a 9×13 casserole dish and set aside.
  2. Saute the mushrooms in the butter and oil until cooked and liquid has cooked off. Stir in the garlic and cook briefly, just until fragrant. Set aside.
  3. Boil a saucepan of water and add the frozen broccoli. Simmer until it’s cooked to the desired texture. Drain and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, then mix in the milk and cheese. Gently stir in the bread cubes until moistened.
  5. Add the mushrooms, broccoli, onions, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Spread into the prepared dish and bake for 40 minutes, then check to see if it needs additional time. When it’s done, the top will be browned and the center will spring back when touched.
  7. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

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margarets favorite bread made with whole grain flour and updated

Margaret’s favorite bread, updated

Last summer I started making the recipe for Margaret’s Favorite White Bread from our family cookbook — of course I replaced the white flour with freshly-milled whole wheat flour. This bread is my go-to whole grain sandwich bread. It’s super easy to make, with ingredients I always have in the house, and has consistent results.

The last time I made it, I noticed the slices were rather delicate. So this time I adjusted the recipe to make a heartier loaf that fills up my pan better. The change worked out great and this loaf baked up beautifully. I’m much happier with the texture and the flavor is still wonderful.

Favorite Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

Ingredients

  • 400-450 gm hard white wheat flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 tbls sugar
  • 1 3/8 c whole milk,warm
  • 1 tbls shortening

Instructions

  1. Set aside about 50 gm of the flour to add later as necessary. Combine the rest of the flour, salt, yeast, and sugar in a medium bowl. Stir in the milk, then knead together with hands.
  2. Knead 200 times. Then smear the shortening on the counter and knead, an additional 300 times (500 times total).
  3. Place dough in large bowl, cover well, and set in a warm place for approximately 2 hours or until doubled.
  4. Deflate the dough and shape into a ball. Rise again for about 1 hour or until doubled.
  5. Flatten dough and shape into a loaf and place in greased loaf pan.
  6. Heat oven to 400°, and when the loaf has risen bake for 10 minutes.
  7. After 10 minutes, turn heat down to 375° and bake for 20-30 more minutes.
  8. When finished baking (at around 190-200° F), remove from oven and turn the bread onto a rack to cool for at least 1 hour.

Homemade white bread

Homemade white sandwich bread

This is the loaf that got me rolling on making bread from scratch at home. It was so exhilarating to see the dough rise properly, bake properly, and taste like real bread! For me, the significance of this loaf is huge. It’s led to a journey of learning more about healthy whole grain cooking and baking, and to a greater level of self-reliance. It’s so much more than a plain loaf of white bread.