We're ready to hit the Chicago farmer's markets this week and stock up on all the super-fresh local produce we've been craving since last fall. We'll most likely be bringing home as much as we can carry and then faced with the happy task of find ways to prepare and eat it.
This is one recipe we know we'll be turning to, especially because it can be so easily adapted to use whatever ingredients look best.
We've been expanding our cooking without recipes skills and gaining confidence in our own palette, which we put to the test last weekend while visiting family. With leftovers from a lovely dinner – asparagus, zucchini, dinner rolls and Havarti cheese – and other ingredients we had on hand, we put together this simple-but-satisfying breakfast strata for our host and fellow guests.
Had we planned the dish ahead of time, we would have mixed the ingredients the night before and let them soak overnight. But we were struck with last-minute inspiration, and our quick version turned out just fine.
Zucchini and Asparagus Strata
1/2 pound asparagus, cut into 1-inch segments
1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
4 leftover dinner roles (stale is good), or 4 slices of white bread, torn into 1-inch pieces
1/3 cup shredded Havarti cheese
1 1/2 cup milk
Fresh ground pepper
1 Tablespoon butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a pie pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Mix in salt and pepper. Add bread, asparagus and most of the cheese (reserve a couple tablespoons), and mix gently until bread pieces are all coated in egg mixture. Pour into pie pan.
Bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and place zucchini slices on top. Brush with melted butter. Bake for another 20 minutes, or until eggs have set. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top, and place under the broiler for no more than a minute, just to brown the cheese a little.
Cool slightly before serving.
- By Joanna Miller, our Chicago correspondent
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(Images: Joanna Miller)