When it comes to meal planning lately, I feel that I’ve found a healthy and successful balance of the good, bad and the ugly for myself and for my family. Raw fruit and veggies are making daily appearances on the snack and meal rotation and I’m enjoying them very much (my kids are starting to come around too).
I’ve also been relying on make-ahead meals for all times of the day. Pre-made casseroles are how I’ve been saving some precious, weeknight time (especially on our hectic soccer practice nights!) and preparing a meal I feel good about for my family.
One of my favorite make-ahead meals is a cheesy, rich strata. A strata is basically a savory bread pudding.
It’s made with good, crusty French bread and topped with any variation of vegetables, cheese, herbs and meat. The bread base of the strata then soaks for hours in the mixture of milk and beaten egg.
When it comes out of the oven, you get to enjoy an amazing, flavorful, satisfying casserole for your meal. I’ve served savory strata at all times of the day, and it’s always a big hit.
Bread, cheese, eggs and your favorite toppings mixed all through, who can resist such a thing?
For this dinner strata, I used beautiful, seasonal, fresh asparagus. I briefly blanched it ahead of time to make sure it would be cooked through when the dish was served.
This recipe is designed to fill a 2 quart baking pan, but my kids won’t touch asparagus. They do, however, love ham and cheese. So, I split the ingredients between two smaller baking dishes and I only used asparagus on the grown-up portion.
|Pour the egg mixture evenly over the bread and veg. The casseroles must soak in the refrigerator for several hours before baking,|
I’m all about win-win meal service when it’s possible. My kids are pretty picky and sometimes trying to find a sensible middle-ground between my love of ingredients that they hate is difficult. Trust me, the meal-planning struggle is real.
If your family is a fan of the basic ingredients in strata, you can substitute the toppings to suit your tastes. The preparation method stays the same.
I also have some delicious recipes for bread pudding that are perfect for breakfast or dessert. I’ll be sharing some soon in future posts!
- one loaf of crusty, French bread, cut into cubes
- 1 1/2 cups cubed ham
- 1/2 pound of fresh asparagus, ends trimmed
- 1 (8 oz bag) of shredded Gouda or other cheese
- 5 eggs, beaten
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 green onions, sliced
- 1/2 – 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
- a few good dashes of salt and pepper
1. Place your torn bits of bread in a lightly greased, 2-quart baking dish.