Cheddar and broccoli strata

    2 hours

    Based on an old-fashioned English recipe, but with an American influence, this satisfying savoury pudding is made up of layers of bread and vegetables with a cheesy egg custard poured over. Served with a quick home-made tomato sauce, it is a tasty and nutritious dish. A leafy salad could be served alongside.

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    Serves: 6 

    • 15 g (½ oz) butter
    • 4 shallots, finely chopped
    • 250 g (8½ oz) broccoli, cut into small florets
    • 170 g (6 oz) fine green beans, halved
    • 1 can sweetcorn kernels, about 200 g,
    • drained
    • 9 thick slices of white bread, about 400 g (14 oz) in total, crusts removed and slices cut in half
    • 4 eggs
    • 600 ml (1 pint) semi-skimmed milk
    • 2 tbsp snipped fresh chives
    • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
    • 85 g (3 oz) mature Cheddar cheese, grated
    • salt and pepper
    • Tomato sauce
    • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 red onion, finely chopped
    • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
    • 2 cans chopped tomatoes with herbs, about
    • 400 g each
    • 2 tbsp tomato purée

    Prep:1hr  ›  Cook:1hr  ›  Ready in:2hr 

    1. Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the shallots and cook gently for about 7 minutes or until softened. Meanwhile, cook the broccoli and green beans in a saucepan of boiling water for 4 minutes or until just tender. Drain well, then stir into the shallots together with the sweetcorn. Season to taste.
    2. Arrange 6 of the halved bread slices side by side in a lightly greased, deep ovenproof dish. Top with half of the broccoli mixture. Repeat the layers of bread and broccoli mixture, then finish with a layer of bread.
    3. Whisk together the eggs, milk, chives and parsley, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the layered bread and vegetables, and sprinkle the cheese on top. Set aside for 30 minutes, to allow the bread to soak up some of the liquid. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F, gas mark 4).
    4. Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the onion and garlic, and cook over a moderate heat for 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, with their juice, and the tomato purée. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Uncover the pan, increase the heat slightly and cook for a further 5–10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened slightly.
    5. Bake the pudding for 1 hour or until set, puffy and golden brown. Just before the cooking time is up, warm the sauce gently. Spoon the strata onto hot serving plates and serve with the tomato sauce.

    Some more ideas

    Replace the shallots with 1–2 sliced leeks. * Flavour the egg custard with chopped fresh oregano or marjoram instead of chives. * For a higher fibre dish, use wholemeal bread. * Use Double Gloucester or Lancashire cheese instead of Cheddar. * To make a sausage and courgette strata, grill 4 good-quality, high-meat-content herby pork sausages. Meanwhile, cook 1 finely chopped onion and 3 sliced courgettes in the butter for 8–10 minutes or until tender. Slice the grilled sausages and mix with the vegetables. Cut the bread into cubes rather than slices. Layer the bread cubes and sausage mixture in the ovenproof dish. Make the egg custard as in the main recipe, but flavour with 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary instead of chives and parsley. Omit the cheese. Leave to soak, then bake. Serve with the tomato sauce, and vegetables such as baby carrots and peas.

    Plus points

    Cheddar cheese is a good source of protein and an excellent source of calcium. It has a high fat content, but by choosing a mature Cheddar, less can be used while still making a valuable contribution to the flavour and nutritional value of the recipe. * Sweetcorn provides useful amounts of dietary fibre, which helps to keep the digestive system in good working order.

    Each serving provides

    A, B12, C, calcium * B1, B2, E, folate, niacin, copper, iron, potassium, selenium, zinc * B6

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