STRATA WITH SAUSAGE, CHEESE AND HERBS

Serves 12.

Note: This recipe needs to be prepared in advance. You can use turkey sausage or mild or hot Italian sausage. Or you can use frozen vegetarian crumbles. From Susan Selasky.

• 20 oz. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed if in links

• 1 tbsp. butter, plus extra for the pan

• 1 medium onion, chopped into 1/2-in. pieces (about 1 c.)

• 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

• 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced

• 1 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme, optional

• 1 c. heavy whipping cream

• 1/2 c. half-and-half

• 10 eggs

• 1 tsp. salt

• 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

• 16 oz. egg bread or country bread (preferably 1 to 2 days old), cut into 1/2-in.-thick slices

• 2 1/2 c. shredded Fontina or Swiss cheese

Directions

Butter the bottom and sides of a 9- by 13-inch baking dish.

In a large skillet over medium heat, break up sausage and sauté until golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside on paper towel to drain. Add the 1 tablespoon butter to the same skillet and melt. Add the onions, mushrooms and bell pepper and sauté until they are tender. Remove from the heat and cool.

In a medium bowl, whisk the thyme if using with the cream, half-and-half, eggs, salt and pepper, and set aside.

Lay half of the bread in the buttered baking dish, sprinkle with half of the sausage mixture, half of the mushroom mixture and about half of the cheese. Repeat layering with remaining bread, sausage, mushroom and cheese. Slowly pour egg mixture over top. Press down on the bread so it gets covered with the egg mixture. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes or overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove the strata from the refrigerator while the oven is preheating. Uncover and place the baking dish on a baking sheet to catch overflow. Bake 40 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to sit 10 minutes before serving.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 438 Fat 30 g Sodium 929 mg

Carbohydrates 23 g Saturated fat 14 g Calcium 214 mg

Protein 21 g Cholesterol 269 mg Dietary fiber 1 g