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The first time I came across a recipe for strata, I could not believe this great, magical brunch treasure had been under my nose all this time without my knowing about it. How could I, a die-hard egg and all-things-breakfast devotee, not know of the existence of a cross between a frittata and a bread pudding?
The situation rectified, and many admired strata recipes later, I finally took on my first one. In thinking about make-ahead Thanksgiving and holiday leftovers, a strata is a veritable no-brainer. For those new to the term, a strata is an egg and bread casserole that necessitates an overnight sit in the refrigerator, to allow the bread to soak up the egg and milk mixture. The result is something more custardy than a frittata, but not quite as rich as a quiche, with a nice crunchy browned crust on the top bread cubes.
Like a frittata, stratas can take on any number and combination of fillings, except they're layered on, lasagna-style, with the egg mixture poured over. For holiday season, I use this as a vehicle for leftover roasted turkey meat, as well as leftover cooked vegetable sides—here, mushrooms and spinach, with Gruyère and chives. To cut through the richness, I also added the typical strata ingredient of tangy Dijon mustard.
You can very easily customize this for whatever you happen to have on hand alongside your turkey, and you'll likely already have bread cubes for your stuffing. Once the dinner plates have been cleared, you can assemble this in 5 minutes flat. The following day, you'll have brunch waiting in your fridge at the ready to be baked off—once everyone's appetite has returned.
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