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The Fault in Our Stratas

This month, my book club’s pick was The Fault in Our Stars, the staggeringly popular young adult novel (and now film) about a pair of teens with cancer by Indy resident John Green. In the book, snarky protagonist Hazel rants about how illogical it is that some foods are arbitrarily relegated to breakfast. “It is embarrassing,” she declares, “that we all just walk through life blindly accepting that scrambled eggs are fundamentally associated with mornings.”

In her honor, we all brought breakfast foods to eat as dinner at book club. Hazel has a point. Compared to some of our themed book club meals (like the corn-dog-heavy carnival food we ate for Water for Elephants or the “Oops We Forgot We Live in the Midwest so Everyone Brought Dessert Instead” seafood theme for Ahab’s Wife), this dinner was downright well-balanced. Our entrée, which I brought, was officially called Caramelized Onion Breakfast Casserole, but channeling Hazel, I’d say this easy broccoli-bacon-Swiss strata would satisfy for any meal of the day.

A strata is basically a savory, make-ahead bread pudding. Quiche meets French toast; they get married and live in a casserole dish. You beat together egg and milk or cream. Then you add cooked vegetables, meat or cheese, plus a lot of cubed crusty bread. The mixture soaks happily in the baking pan for as long as 24 hours, and then bakes. (Sidebar: I usually find that strata take longer to bake than recipes indicate, but maybe I just like mine drier.) While I wouldn’t go so far as to call my strata healthy, it certainly has the possibility of being adapted to be so—less cheese, low-fat milk, turkey bacon, maybe whole-grain bread.

Looking for another good strata recipe? Here are a few gems from our archives:

Bacon-Asparagus Strata (pictured above)

Patsy’s Egg Casserole

Tomato-Zucchini Strata

Stuffed Croissant Breakfast Strata

As for book club, my friends devoured the strata I brought, washing it down with white wine and orange juice. Just a little corner of it was left. Today I’ll be eating it for lunch. Because Hazel’s right: “Breakfasty social conventions” have no place in my kitchen.

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