We had a small gathering to celebrate my nephew’s graduation from 8th grade: quite an accomplishment as everyone who’s survived middle school knows.
Summer Celebration Menu: Grilled Marinated Chicken with Fresh Basil Pesto, Sicilian Strata, Summer Garden Salad, Fresh Fruit, Peach Ice Cream with Burnt Honey Caramel Sauce. Wes loves bacon. Wanting that flavor, but not the additional fat, I opted to use a little ham. It can be omitted to make this a vegetarian dish. Fontina cheese melts nicely into the egg custard, but Cheddar or Monterey Jack can be substituted. Herbs de Provence contains dried lavender which is in bloom. The aromatic scents of summer waft through the kitchen when this strata is baking. Note: this can be prepared a couple of hours ahead of time, refrigerated, and baked 30 minutes before serving. Bring room temperature before baking.
SICILIAN STRATA – Serves 6-8, but is easily doubled
5 slices of gluten free bread – Udi’s works well – torn into small bite sized pieces as one assembles the strata
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 oz. sliced and diced ham (optional)
3/4 cup quartered and oven roasted “grape” tomatoes, or 1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
4 large eggs
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup half & half
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon Herbs de Provence
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated pepper
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cups grated Fontina cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 375 F and lightly grease a 3″ deep 2 quart baking dish with a little olive oil.
2. Saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil until the onions become translucent. Add the ham and continue cooking until the ham and onions just start to brown at the edges. Set aside.
3. Beat together the eggs and egg yolks. Add the half & half, cream, Herbs de Provence, salt, and pepper. Beat or whisk to blend.
4. Tear 2 slices of the bread into small bite sized pieces and lay on the bottom of the prepared dish. Layer on 1/3 of the onion mixture, 1/3 of the tomatoes, 1/3 of the cheese, and pour over 1/3 of the cream/egg mixture. Repeat twice, using only one slice for the last bread layer, and gently pat the surface with a spatula to insure that all of the top layer of bread is soaked in the cream.
5. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes. Let rest 5-10 minutes before serving, or serve warm or at room temperature.
Enjoy this special treat – something you may not have made or been served in a gluten-free while.
HOW TO OVEN ROAST TOMATOES:
1. Turn the oven to 375 F or 350 “Convection”. This can be part of preheating the oven to bake the Strata.
2. Slice the tomatoes into a pile in an oven proof pan.
3. Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with a little fresh ground pepper and salt. Toss to coat and spread evenly in a single layer in the pan.
4. Put in the oven even if it hasn’t reached the desired heat and bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until the tomatoes have caramelized and shrunk a bit.