Caprese Strata 6.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Aug 17, 2016

Components of a classic Caprese salad flavor this moist, layered casserole. It's a great make-ahead option for breakfast, brunch or dinner.

Make sure your tomatoes are ripe and flavorful; we have made it with farmers market heirlooms and with supermarket Camparis; both worked well.

Raw vegetables are tricky in a strata; their moisture can cause the custard to be watery. That's why these tomatoes are salted, drained, pressed and finally squeezed to rid them of much of their liquid. You could roast them, but they wouldn't taste as fresh; and why keep the oven on any more than you have to?

Make Ahead: The chopped tomatoes need to drain for 30 minutes to 1 hour. The assembled strata needs to be refrigerated for at least 4 hours and preferably overnight. It needs to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before baking.

Where to Buy: We used Galbani Fresh Mozzarella, which is available at Harris Teeter, Safeway and other supermarkets.


Servings:
6 - 8

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 6-8 servings

Ingredients
  • 2 pounds ripe tomatoes, seeded and cut into roughly 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon plus 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 ounces sliced hearty white Italian bread (about 8 slices), including crusts, toasted to a light golden brown, then cut or torn into roughly 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 5 tablespoons prepared pesto
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces whole-milk mozzarella, preferably fresh, cut into slices about 1/8 inch thick
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk

Directions

Place the tomatoes in a colander set over a bowl; sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the salt and stir to combine. Let the tomatoes drain for 30 minutes to an hour, stirring them occasionally, then place a small plate over the tomatoes and press down firmly several times to remove more liquid.

Grease the inside of a 2-quart baking dish with cooking oil spray. Cover the bottom of the baking dish with a single layer of about half of the bread, breaking up some pieces and using them to fill in gaps as needed. Top with a little less than half of the tomatoes, first giving them a good final squeeze to get rid of more liquid.

Stir together the Parmigiano-Reggiano and ricotta cheeses in a bowl, until well combined, then drop dollops of the mixture over the tomatoes. Use the back of a spoon to spread it into an even layer. Drizzle evenly with 3 tablespoons of the pesto. Scatter about half of the basil over the pesto. Sprinkle with a few grinds of pepper.

Add a second layer of bread. (You might not need all of it.) Top with the remaining tomatoes (squeezing them first), drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of pesto and evenly scatter over the remaining basil. Top evenly with the mozzarella slices.

Combine the eggs, milk and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a large liquid measuring cup with a pour spout; use an egg beater or immersion (stick) blender to thoroughly incorporate. Pour the mixture down the inside of the baking dish to fill it to within 1/2 inch of the top, pressing down lightly on the assembled strata to make sure all the bread is moistened. You will probably have some of the mixture left over; cover the measuring cup with plastic wrap and refrigerate it. Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and preferably overnight.

Remove the plastic wrap from the strata and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. The level of liquid should have lowered; give the reserved egg-milk mixture a good stir and pour some or all of it into the baking dish, keeping it below 1/2 inch from the top.

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat to 350 degrees.

Bake the strata for 45 minutes to an hour or until it has puffed and browned. If the edges begin to get too dark before the middle is puffed and set, tent the baking dish loosely with aluminum foil. (You can cut a piece from the middle of the foil to expose the center of the strata and promote browning there.)

Transfer the strata to a wire cooling rack; let it sit for 15 minutes before serving.

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Recipe Source

Tested by Jane Touzalin.

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