Tag Archives: how to use stale bread

Let’s Go Steady: Grilled Summer Vegetable Strata

You might have noticed some minor changes around here lately. Nothing too big of course, but hopefully some small upgrades that will make Shut Up & Cook tick up one more notch on your “Favorite Food Blogs” list. (Incidentally, thank you to all who participated in the giveaway for free tickets to the Best of Seattle Party. All of your blog suggestions and recipe wish lists were such fun to receive).

The biggest change is the addition of a Recipe Index. That’s right folks, a one-stop-shop, all-you-can-eat, everything goes list of each and every recipe I’ve done over the last few years.

Looking through it I feel a mixture of many emotions: Pride (Hot damn, I’ve done some cooking!), embarrassment (Where do I get some of my blog post title ideas?), sadness (Still miss dogs Lucky and Onca every day), and peace (The past years haven’t all been easy, but I truly believe I’m better for them).

If you make nothing else from this blog…make these cookies. I guarantee they will be the best you’ve ever had.

For those of you that are new readers, I invite you to take a scroll through the list. Hopefully you’ll find new recipes to fall in love with, or discover old favorites. I felt like I was meeting a dear friend looking through the list, remembering moments and events, and who I was in each. With that, a few of what I think are the best (thank GOODNESS my photos have gotten better…eeesh!):

What I was surprised to find wasn’t on there however, was Strata. This was most odd because I make it at least once a month, and it’s a go-to for a delicious make-ahead brunch food that always feeds and satisfies a crowd. For those of you not familiar with the magic that is a strata, it is essentially a savory bread pudding meets egg custard. Stale bread is diced over which an egg/milk/cream mixture is poured. Any other assortment of ingredients are then added, it sits over night, and you bake it in the morning, resulting in a delicious smelling, beautiful looking, amazing tasting, puffed delight.

Grilled Summer Vegetable Strata
Serves 8 – 10

A perfect way to begin a Sunday morning.

The beauty of a strata is that you can throw whatever in…here I did grilled summer vegetables as a means to tackle my CSA, but you can do an endless combination of ingredients; think artichoke hearts and goat cheese, mushrooms and chorizo, peppers and sausage…the list could go on, and on, and is limited only by your creativity, and your leftovers.

  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk, cream, half and half, whatever
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 4 cups stale bread, cubed
  • 1 zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 1 summer squash, thinly sliced
  • Glug olive oil
  • 1 bunch kale, washed, and coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups semihard cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup semisoft cheese, shredded
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper. Fold in the bread and semihard cheese and set aside.
  2. Preheat a gas grill on high. Take the zucchini and squash slices and toss with olive oil. Over medium heat, using a grill pan if you have one, cook until softened and grill marks beginning to show and flavor slightly smoky. Remove from grill and coarsely chop.
  3. Grease a 9×13 inch glass baking dish.
  4. Pour in half the egg mixture. Top with half the zucchini and squash, half the kale, and half the semisoft cheese. Repeat with remaining egg mixture, vegetables, and cheese.
  5. Cover with foil and allow to soak in fridge overnight.
  6. Remove from fridge one hour before cooking and preheat oven to 325.
  7. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes without foil, rotating halfway through, and returning foil if top getting too brown. Bake until the top of the dish is very brown and the middle is springy. Let the strata cool for 10 minutes before serving.

13 Comments

Filed under Breakfasts, Cheap Eats, Comfort Foods, Entertaining, Make ahead, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

Panzanella Salad with Kalamata Olives, Garbanzo Beans, and Basil

Panzanella Salad

Panzanella Salad

A dear friend, and fellow blogger, recently described her great accomplishments of the past month as:

  • “I did not cry in the past four days even though sometimes I was really drunk.”
  • “I went to the beach everyday in August and did not get burned.”
  • “Yesterday, at the grocery store there were free samples of cake and I did not eat one.”

Because of how my life has been going, I’ve been measuring my triumphs in a similar scale. Take today for instance:

  • Upon waking, my hair only moderately resembled a rogue bonsai.
  • I did not once sign one of the 200 work emails I fast and furiously sent out with ‘xoxo’. (this is a deep seeded fear of mine, even though it has only happened once).
  • I successfully managed to wear one of those chunky chic necklaces that are so popular right now without anyone openly mistaking me for a kindergarten teacher.

Yes…today was a good day.

The real triumph of the day however, undoubtedly, and per usual, came in the kitchen.

My tomato plants, having been seriously stunted by our lame summer, finally kicked into gear and produced a whole slew of beautiful, tomatoes. Add to that a bit of stale bread in my freezer, and a shameless desire to recreate the oh-so-delicious panzanella salad I recently had at Rowhouse and we were in action.

This is very easy and quick to make, and is beautiful when presented. A perfect way to use the last of summer’s bounty.

Panzanella Salad with Kalamata Olives, Garbanzo Beans, and Basil

Serves 4-6

1/2 pound (about 5 cups)  stale bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes.  You want the bread to be substantial; think french bread or sour dough.

1 lb ripe tomatoes (about 3-4 cups), cut into 3/4 inch pieces

1/2 cup diced red onion

1 can garbanzo beans

1/4 cup kalamata olives

1/2 cup fresh mozzarella (optional)

1/2 cup fresh basil, sliced

1/2 cup olive oil, + 3-4 TB

3 TB Balsamic

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1. In a large bowl, toss the bread with 3 TB olive oil. Add the remaining 1 TB to a cast iron skillet, bring to medium heat, and brown the bread as if making croutons. Remove from heat and set aside.

2. In the same serving bowl, add the olive oil, balsamic, salt, and pepper and whisk to make a dressing.

3. Add to the bowl the tomatoes, the garbanzo, the red onions, the kalamata olives, the mozzarella (optional), the basil, and the bread.

   
   

4. Toss to thoroughly combine.

5. Let stand at room temperature, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes, or until the bread has absorbed the tomato juices without losing its texture.

Enjoy!

15 Comments

Filed under Lactose Free, Salads, Uncategorized, Vegetarian