8 oz day-old bread—baguette, Italian, firm white sandwich bread all work, dark crust removed if any
1 oz butter or olive oil, as needed
½ C minced onion or shallot or 2 C julienne onion
2 tsp chopped fresh herbs—parsley, basil, thyme, chives or scallions
10 oz leftover* cooked vegetables—wilted spinach, sautéed mushrooms, steamed broccoli or cauliflower, sautéed zucchini are all delicious
1 ½–2 C leftover* cooked chicken, sausage, ham, bacon or ground beef, shredded, diced or crumbled (or any combination you like)
1 ½–2 C shredded cheese—Gruyere, cheddar, Monterey jack, Swiss, fontina, pepper jack (or any combination you like—just choose a cheese that melts well)
2 Tbsp grated or shredded parmesan, optional
½ C white wine or dry vermouth
2 C half & half or 1 C each milk and heavy or light cream
6 large eggs (or whatever size you have on hand)
1 tsp kosher salt
Black pepper to taste
Butter your baking dish and set it aside. Dice the bread into 1" cubes—you need enough for two layers in your baking dish.
Cook your onions or shallots in butter or oil in a sauté pan until they begin to brown. If using julienned onions, cook them over lower heat and let them caramelize. Add the chopped herbs, season with salt and pepper, cook for another minute and remove from the pan. Add the wine or vermouth and reduce by half. Set aside.
Assemble the strata by placing half of the bread cubes in a single layer on the bottom of the buttered baking dish, then top with half of the cooked meat and vegetables, half of the shredded cheese and 1 Tbsp of the Parmesan. Repeat with a second layer of the bread, meat, vegetables and cheeses.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, half & half, reduced wine, kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Pour the custard evenly over the assembled strata and gently press down to help the bread evenly absorb the egg mixture. At this point, the strata may be covered and refrigerated overnight for an easy brunch or baked immediately.
When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 325˚ F. Bake for approximately 40–45 minutes, until golden and puffed. Serve immediately.
*If you don’t have leftover cooked meat or vegetables, start by sautéing the meat in your hot skillet, transfer it to a plate, then sauté the vegetables in the same pan. Transfer them to the plate with the meat and proceed with cooking your onions as directed above. You want everything to be seasoned, cooked and cooled before you assemble the strata.