There are few dishes I love more than a strata. A strata is basically a frittata but with a layer of bread, which makes it a complete dish of protein, carbohydrates and vegetables all in one. It is a really easy and healthy meal to prepare and it is a perfect choice for a pregnant mama-to-be, nursing mama or a star-struck, busy family just bringing baby home from the hospital.
For a pregnant mama-to-be, not only is a strata a healthy way to nourish your growing body and baby bump, but by using fresh vegetables, lower-fat cheeses and whole grain bread, this meal gives baby a super nutritious start and helps to lay the foundation for a lifetime of choosing healthier food options. The same benefits apply to a nursing mama trying to help her body heal while maintaining optimal health for nursing her baby. For a family just bringing baby home, this meal gives everybody in the family healthy energy to keep going during round-the-clock feedings and days and nights that seem to have no beginning or end.
To make a strata, you can use whatever fresh vegetables you have on hand or prefer. If you are able to use vegetables that are local and in season, you will get the most nutritional bang for your buck. I like to use carrots, parsnips or zucchini because, when grated, you don’t need to cook them before adding them to the egg mixture. They will cook in the oven while the strata bakes and save you time on food preparation. Many recipes call for creating a few layers of bread, then the egg and vegetable mixture, and then the cheese, before repeating the steps. Or, you can cut down on the preparation time even more by creating one layer of bread and one layer of the eggs, vegetable and cheese mixed together as I’ve suggested below.
Additionally, you can freeze the strata to enjoy later by wrapping individual cooled pieces in plastic wrap and storing them in an airtight zipper-topped bag for up to 4 months. So this is a great meal to make if you’re thinking ahead to your own bun coming out of the oven.
Serves 6-8 adults
8-10 slices of day-old bread or ¾ baguette, cut into ¼ inch chunks (You want enough to fill the bottom of a 9×12-inch baking dish)
6 egg whites and 6 whole eggs, whisked
¼ cup milk
3 raw carrots, peeled and grated OR 3 raw parsnips, peeled and grated OR 2 zucchini, grated
1½ cups of shredded cheese (I like to use 2 parts mozzarella to 1 part parmesan, but use whatever you prefer)
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
Chili powder and/or cumin, to taste
1. Heat the oven to 325° and grease a 9×12-inch baking dish.
2. Slice the bread chunks and spread them in an even layer on the bottom of the baking dish.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, pepper and spices.
4. Grate the carrots, parsnips or zucchini. If using zucchini, it is a very wet vegetable so you want to get rid of the excess water after grating it. Do this by placing the grated zucchini into a clean kitchen towel, cheesecloth or a few paper towels and squeezing out the excess water.
5. Stir the vegetables and cheese into the egg mixture and mix well.
6. Pour mixture into the baking dish and bake for 45-55 minutes or until set.
7. Let rest around 5 minutes before enjoying.