Healthy Strata for Two

Image of individual strata with egg atop and apple slicesIf you're like me, strata is a breakfast casserole that you trot out for company. In fact, it's perfect for overnight guests because you have to put it together the night before. That leaves your morning clear for sipping mimosas and getting caught up.

Meanwhile, in the real world,  who's got the time?  Here's an option that goes together quickly and is made in individual ramekins so it's easy to customize.

Better still, this is a much healthier breakfast. Traditional strata is tasty but let's face it, any breakfast that's 10 hours in the making already has a strike against it. Add to that its contents; half a loaf of white bread, a pound of pork, 8 eggs, half a pound of cheese and a few cups of cream and it's a custard-fueled nutritional guilt trip! In fact, the recipe I mentioned has a whopping 520-700 calories per serving! This one has 315 calories per serving, lots of fiber and no artificial preservatives.

Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 2 servings
Level: Easy

Ingredients cut, chopped and ready for cooking
2 slices of whole grain, hearty bread (I used Dave's Killer Bread)
2 medium eggs
2 medium or 1 large portobello mushroom(s), sliced
1/4 medium yellow or white onion, chopped
1 tsp olive oil (just enough to lightly oil the ramekins)
1/2 cup low-sodium broth (chicken or vegetable)
3 slices uncured bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 cup gouda, finely grated
Dash of dry mustard (optional)
Red pepper flakes, to taste
Chives, for garnish

step by step instructions for assembling individual strata

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Toast the bread. Lightly oil each ramekin. Tear bread apart and place each slice in a ramekin.

Fry the bacon, crisp, and drain on a towel. Pour excess bacon fat from the pan, add the onions and sauté on medium heat until translucent. Add the mushrooms and 1 tablespoon of the broth. If they get dry, add more broth, a tablespoon at a time, until the mushrooms are cooked. Add the remaining broth and dry mustard until the broth is heated.

In each ramekin, over the bread, pour half of the heated broth mixture (you want the bread to be quite moist), sprinkle with half of the cheese, and half of the bacon.
Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 10 minutes.

Remove from oven. The bread should still be moist, not soggy. The goal is for the bread to be soft on the inside and toasty on the top. So, remove the foil and bake an additional 5 minutes to toast the bread a little. Remove from oven.

Break an egg atop each and sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Re-cover loosely with foil and bake another 4-5 minutes. The eggs should be cooked by now (whites are solid and the yolks are thick but still liquid). Alternatively, you can cook without the foil, a decent solution if the bread is a little soggy. Just check the cooking time. You'll have to watch them a little closer to get the eggs cooked to your liking.

Remove from the oven. You can serve these in the ramekins, or run a knife around the edge and slide them out onto a plate. Garnish (I used chives) and serve hot.