Savory Very Veggie breakfast strata

My favorite meal of the week is brunch, and my favorite brunch of the year is my annual Put Off Your Diet Til Monday Post New Year’s Brunch. It’s a banquet of delicious breakfast offerings, and this strata is always a runaway favorite. With the proportions below, it’s a pretty veggie-heavy strata – just the way I like it!

1 lb sweet sausage
2 large peppers (green, red, yellow or combo)
10 oz mushrooms (10 or 12 large mini-bellas)
1 large sweet onion
1 lb day-old bread (10-12 slices of loaf bread; gluten-free bread works just fine) 4 eggs
2 c milk (I like to use 2%, but I’ve found almond milk works fine too)
4 large eggs
1-1/2 c shredded swiss or cheddar cheese
butter as needed, to saute the veggies

Spread out the bread in the empty, well-buttered casserole dish when you begin to cook so that it can dry out a little.

Crumble the sausage and saute it in a pan. Drain the sausage and reserve in a prep bowl.

Cook the peppers in the sausage drippings for a few minutes, just enough to soften them a bit but not enough to blacken them. Drain them and put in a prep bowl.

Cook the mushrooms next, adding butter to the sausage drippings if necessary. If it seems like a lot of mushrooms, remember that mushrooms cook down a LOT. Put them in a prep bowl.

Saute the onions last, in butter. Cook them for a few minutes on medium high, just until they start to brown. Turn the flame down to medium, stirring frequently. Once they begin to caramelize, turn the flame down to medium low and continue stirring frequently for 20 minutes or so. Low heat is how you get them nice and caramel-y, without burning them.

Butter a 2-1/2 qt casserole dish, or spray it with non-stick spray. Butter enough bread to cover the bottom of the casserole dish, and put the buttered side down. Add half the vegetables, sausage and cheese in a nice layer. Add the rest of the bread, buttered or not as you choose, then top with the rest of the ingredients.

Whisk the eggs and stir in the milk. Carefully pour this mixture on top of the ingredients in your pan. It needs to cover all the bread – dry bits of bread in the finished dish are not yummy! LOL If necessary, add another couple of eggs mixed with milk, to completely cover all your ingredients.

Cover and refrigerate overnight. Letting the flavors meld like this is an important step – don’t skip it!

In the morning, preheat the oven to 350° and cook for about an hour, until it’s bubbly and browning.

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