Meat Lite: Cemita Strata Recipe

Meat Lite

Mostly vegetarian dishes with just a touch of meaty accent.

Meat Lite: Cemita Strata Recipe

Editor's note: Philadelphia food writers Joy Manning and Tara Mataraza Desmond drop by each week with Meat Lite, which celebrates meat in moderation. Meat Lite was inspired by their book, Almost Meatless.

[Flickr: jlastras]

Strata, or savory bread pudding, is one of the classic clean-out-your fridge dishes. The basic formula can be adapted to whatever you have lying around, so long as the flavors harmonize reasonably well. This version calls for cemitas, which is easy enough to find if you have access to a Mexican grocery or bakery, but if not, any seeded loaf will do. The chorizo here lends a lot of flavor (of course) but could be omitted for a vegetarian version or replaced with an equal amount of ground beef or pork. I told you the recipe is flexible.


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 4 ounces chorizo, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 5 scallions, white and light green parts, minced
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, minced
  • 1 or 2 (1-pound) day-old cemitas (a seeded Mexican bread used to make cemita sandwiches), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup Manchego cheese
  • 3/4 cup pepper jack cheese


  1. 1.

    Butter 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Set aside.

  2. 2.

    Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat and add the chorizo, cumin, scallion, and black beans. Cook, stirring often, until the chorizo has rendered some fat and the scallions have softened, about 5 minutes. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, milk, cilantro, and a few heavy pinches salt and pepper.

  3. 3.

  4. 4.

    To bake the strata, preheat the oven to 350°F and then bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until golden brown and a tooth pick inserted comes out clean. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.