Easy Overnight Strata


This basic breakfast, brunch, or lunch dish just loves variations—and busy mornings! Spend five minutes the night before and then simply pop it in the oven the next day. Preschoolers get a kick out of cookie-cutting and tearing the bread. Squeezing the liquid out of the spinach ranks right up there with making mud pies.

Stratas, meaning layers, are excellent dishes for using up leftover odds and ends and work even better with day-old or slightly stale bread. The more flavorful and hearty the bread, the better the strata tastes. To feed a large crowd, double the ingredients and use a 13x9-inch baking dish (add an extra 10 to 15 minutes to cook).

  • Prep time: 15 minutes, plus refrigeration overnight
  • Baking time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings

Do this first:

  • Shred enough cheese to make 3/4 cup (or use pre-shredded cheese).

Ingredients and steps:

  • 1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach
  • 6 slices multigrain or whole wheat bread
  • 2 green onions
  • 3 cherry tomatoes (optional)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups lowfat milk or buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, regular or coarse-ground
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheese, such as sharp cheddar, feta, or Swiss (or use a mixture)

The night before:

  1. Defrost the spinach in the microwave according to manufacturer's instructions.
  2. Lightly coat a 11x7-inch baking dish or equivalent casserole with nonstick spray.
  3. While the spinach thaws, cut out the bread centers using a cookie cutter. Set the cut-outs aside. Tear the remaining pieces into small scraps.
  4. Chop the green onions. Slice the tomatoes in half. Set these ingredients aside separately.
  5. In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs, milk, mustard, tarragon (crushing the leaves), and salt until blended.
  6. When the spinach has thawed, place it in a sieve in the sink. With clean hands, squeeze the liquid out of the spinach until it is very dry.
  7. Place the torn bread scraps in a single layer in the bottom of the dish. Top with a layer of spinach and green onions. Sprinkle on the cheese. Arrange the bread cut-outs on top.
  8. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the entire casserole. Top each cut-out with a cherry tomato half, cut side facing down.
  9. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

To bake the strata the next day:

  1. Remove the strata from the refrigerator and uncover.
  2. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Bake 45 minutes, or until slightly puffy and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. To serve, cut into 6 sections, each with a bread cut-out and tomato half.

Vary It! Just about anything goes in a strata. Try bell peppers, olives, sautéed mushrooms, green chiles, ham, turkey, cooked ground beef or turkey, cheeses, herbs, and seasonings.


Take advantage of today's wonderfully varied, rustic breads—their dense texture and hearty grains make great stratas. These breads are often sold in the day-old section of the grocery or bread store because of their short shelf life. Cube and freeze them for stratas, stuffings, and bread puddings.


Recipes: Breakfasts, Brown-Bags, & Breads


Recipe © 1999 by Kate Heyhoe

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