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Ricotta, Basil, Red Bell Pepper Strata with Parmesan

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In Marie Simmon’s “The Good Egg,” (Houghton Mifflin, $15) this strata (a savory, eggy casserole) is described as “almost puddinglike.” Eggs and milk, poured over the layers of bread, ricotta, sliced red peppers and herbs bakes up puffed, browned and rich with flavor.

As the author notes, you would do best to roast and peel red bell peppers yourself, but if you buy them in a jar, be sure to rinse them well and pat out as much of the moisture as you can before slicing them up to add to the strata.

Ricotta, Basil, Red Bell Pepper Strata with Parmesan

2 red bell peppers, roasted and trimmed and cut into 1-inch wide strips
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small garlic clove, minced
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 (15-ounce) ricotta cheese
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (about 4 ounces)
5 large eggs
Freshly grated nutmeg
2 1/ cups milk
8 1/2-inch thick slices firm Italian bread, preferably 1 day old
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

In a small bowl, combine the roasted peppers, oil, garlic, a pinch of salt and a grinding of pepper. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the ricotta, 1/2 cup of the cheese, 1 of the eggs and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk the remaining 4 eggs until blended. Whisk in the milk, the remaining 1/2 cup cheese, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a grinding of pepper.

Red peppers

To assemble the strata, lightly coat a 2-quart shallow baking dish with butter. Use half of the bread slices to make a single layer in the baking dish, cutting them, if necessary, to fit tightly. Spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the bread. Sprinkle with the basil. Scatter the roasted pepper mixture on top and drizzle with any juices left in the bowl. Use the remaining bread slices to make a second layer, once again cutting these to fit, if necessary.

Pour the egg mixture evenly over the top of the strata, using a spatula to press on the bread so the liquid is evenly absorbed. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Uncover the strata and bake until puffed and browned, about 45 minutes. Serve.

Makes 6-8 servings.

From “The Egg and I” by Marie Simmons. “The Egg and I” is a James Beard Foundation Kitchen Aid Award-winner.

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