Oh come on, admit it – you’re just dying to try that.
No? Oh…well…I don’t know what to tell you other than that it tastes about 5,000,000,000 times better than it looks.
I feel like I say that about everything I make, though. I just love gross-looking casserole-esque dishes, I suppose. Slop in a bowl, maybe?
Anyone who’s “read me” for a long time may remember that I am rather fond of stratas.
Strata is a bread pudding-like layered comfort food casserole made with eggs, cheese and stale cubed bread (or sometimes hash browns).
Stratas are a bit of a tradition to have as a brunch meal – Christmas morning and Easter would not be complete without a strata in my family.
A particular favorite was this one – which I made in addition to my mom’s traditional eggy, cheesy, meaty strata last Christmas. They were both very different, but both very much enjoyed.
Now, though, I don’t eat meat, and am very picky about where my other animal products come from, too.
Of course, I also read cookbooks from cover to cover now, and when I have half a loaf of stale/dry Spelt bread left, immediately decide to use it for something else so that I can make my next loaf of sandwich bread…what can I say?!
Recently, I’ve been going through Veganomicon and bookmarking each recipe that piques my interest so that it’s easier to just find one that sounds good at the time, rather than flipping through the whole book when I’m looking for something to make.
When I saw “Mushroom and Spinach Strata” in a vegan cookbook, my eyeballs nearly popped out of my head and my mother about had a heart attack waking up to my shrill screams, not necessarily of horror, but more from bafflement.
Because stratas are made with eggs. You mean to tell me I can have stratas, without supporting factory farms? And furthermore, you mean to tell me it will still be edible?!
I mean – I’m pretty open minded as you well know, but I was skeptical.
And so, I adapted Isa’s recipe to take on a little bit more of my previously loved sausage-apple strata.
I almost made some seitan sausages to go with it – and still think it’d be really good! – but lost the motivation.
Kale, Cranberry and Apple Strata
4 slices stale whole-grain bread, cubed into approx. 1” squares (You’ll want something a little “crustier” than typical storebought sandwich bread – bakery bread is best.)
2-3 T. olive oil
3 large shallots, chopped
2 c. sliced baby bella mushrooms
2 cloves mashed garlic
1 t. dried sage
2 t. dried basil
dash crushed red pepper
1/2 t. salt
approx. 5 oz. chopped kale
1/4 c. fresh or frozen cranberries
1 medium apple, chopped
For the Custard:
1/2 of a 15 oz. package of soft tofu
1 T. lemon juice
2 t. yellow mustard
1/2 T. white bean flour
1/4 c. water
1/4 t. salt (scant)
Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the scallions and sautee about five minutes, until soft. Add the mushrooms and sautee until tender. Don’t use too much oil – just enough that the veggies can still get a little stuck, so that they develop a bit of a crust on the outside, while still being tender.
Meanwhile, prepare the custard. Place all ingredients for the custard in a blender, and blend until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, and place in fridge until ready to use.
To the shallots and mushrooms, add the salt, pepper, sage and basil. Stir to combine, and then start adding the kale by the handful, allowing each handful to wilt down and turn vibrant green before adding the next. You’ll probably need to add a little bit of water to the pan to help with this – just keep a small glassful and add as you need it. Add in the cranberries and apple, stirring to combine, and then shut off heat. Add in the bread cubes, and gently combine everything. You might need a little bit of olive oil when you add the bread cubes.
Transfer everything to a sprayed casserole dish, and pour the custard over top. Gently pat the tofu in so it mixes a bit – but don’t mix it all together too much. The bottom layer will be mostly the veg and bread mix, sans tofu.
Bake in a preheated 400* oven for about 45-50 minutes, until firm and slightly brown on top. Unfortunately, it will still be really ugly.