Garrett came home with a 20-pound bag of bread! At least, that’s what it seemed like. It may have been 15 or 10. But the bag was HUGE. Loaves bigger than my head kind of huge. For a second I contemplated being a bread head for Halloween.
While I’m not entirely sure what a bread head would be, I know it would involve carrying around one of those big loaves. (Some of my costume probably would have found its way into my belly.) Next year. It’s on. Assuming, of course, Garrett comes home with another 20-pound bag of bread.
This wasn’t just any bread. This was Grand Central Bakery bread. There was a loaf of sourdough. Its innards were chewy and moist with the loveliest of air pockets. We ate it in large toasted slices topped with shredded BBQ chicken. (A big call out to Alice and Cole for that exceptional Halloween feast.)
There were seeded demi baguettes and ciabatta. There were rustic baguettes and a sour rye. And, there was a loaf of Peasant Levain. Due to sheer size factor alone, I never would have bought one of these babies. I’m so glad I know better. There’s a tang to its finish, almost like rye but not so in your face. (Apparently this is due to the natural leavening of wild yeast.) Made with whole grain flours, its dark crust is matched with a dense dark interior. Hunks of it toasted brilliantly, creating crisp edges and soft interiors that stood up perfectly to eggs and milk.
Which brings me to the real reason for this post – strata.
We’re on our second batch of Peasant Levain strata. It’s good. It’s oh, so, good. There’s still more of the loaf left. I put it in the freezer, but I know pretty soon it will be in the casserole dish with any number of goodies.
We started off with caramelized onion and sausage strata. Now we’re onto sweet potato, kale, and sausage strata. (Garrett’s a big meat guy. Thus the sausage-sausage action.)
Up next, I’m thinking about something with fennel. Anyone have a favorite strata recipe they would recommend?
Sweet Potato, Kale and Sausage Strata
The general principle of strata is quite simple. Toasted or slightly stale bread, soaked in whisked eggs and baked. It’s one of those dishes that welcomes just about anything – a fact that makes it near and dear to my penny pinching heart. I can toss in all sorts of leftover odds and ends, like the last few pieces of bacon, half of a bell pepper, and an odd bit of cheese.
Some folks use just eggs, but I’m partial to adding a touch of cream. A half a cup or so gives it an extra luscious punch.
This is a make in advance dish, which has its pros. You can make it the night before and pop it in the oven without any morning fuss. However, that fact can also be a con because you have to remember to make it. If you don’t remember, simply serve it for dinner. No one will care, least of all your husband who will take one look at the pound of sausage and smile.
2 cups hearty bread, cubed (Peasant Levain works nicely. Just sayin’)
1 pound sweet potato, peeled and chopped into ¼ inch slices
6 TBS olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 onion, chopped
2 jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped
1 lb sausage
16 ounces baby kale
½ cup Parmesan
½ cup sharp cheddar
½ cup heavy cream
Preheat oven to 350. Arrange bread cubes on a cookie sheet in an even layer. Bake for 15 minutes, tossing halfway through. Remove from oven and set aside.
Toss sweet potatoes with 3 TBS olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 20 – 30 minutes, until fork tender.
In a medium skillet, heat remaining 3 TBS olive oil. Add onions and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until translucent. Add jalapenos and sauté until tender. Add sausage and sauté until cooked through, breaking it up with a wooden spoon.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer onions, jalapenos, and sausage to a large bowl. Allow remaining fat to cook off any excess water (1 – 2 minutes).
In remaining fat, lightly sauté kale until wilted. Transfer to bowl with sausage mixture. Add sweet potatoes. Fold mixture together, to evenly distribute fixings. Add half the Parmesan and half the cheddar. Fold mixture again to evenly distribute cheese.
In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and cream until fully combined. Add bread cubes and egg mixture to the large bowl of fixings. Fold mixture gently until the bread is evenly distributed and coated in the egg mixture.
Dump contents of the bowl into a 9 by 11 casserole dish. Top with remaining cheeses. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat over to 375. Bake strata for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until eggs are fully set and cheese is bubbly. Remove from oven and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.