Reducing Food Waste - Strata Recipe
Did you know that April is “Winning on Reducing Food Waste Month” in the US? If you’re not aware, then I’m not surprised – I only stumbled on it by accident while searching for information on food waste.
I have been interested in how to reduce my food waste for a long time, thanks to statistics like this from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations:
About 30% of all food produced is wasted
Consumers in Europe and North-America waste 95-115 kg/year of food
This compares to 6-11 kg/year for those living in sub-Saharan Africa and South/Southeast Asia.
So, to celebrate “Winning on Reducing Food Waste Month” I thought I would start a new series of posts that look at different ways to reduce food waste, or recipes that use up food that would otherwise be thrown out. Ideally these recipes would also be yummy and easy to cook!
I will start with a recipe that fulfills these criteria:
Uses up a lot of different leftovers
Is easy to make
Can be prepared ahead of time
In the Frugalitude world this recipe gets a 5-pig rating!
What is this wondrous recipe? It’s a Strata. When I first discovered this recipe, the name made me think it was an old Italian recipe, handed down from peasant grandmothers to their daughters and daughter’s daughters, but apparently I was wrong. It’s actually an American recipe and it first appeared in a 1902 cookbook, the Handbook of Household Science which was written by Juniata L Sheppard, an instructor of Cookery and Laundering at the University of Minnesota.
I believe that is it called a strata because you layer the ingredients. Anyway, enough with the introductory chat, let’s get to the recipe!
What you need
A strata includes 4 basic ingredients:
Bread – usually stale or at least on the way there!
Then you can add whatever leftover vegetables or meat or fish that you have, as well as your preferred seasonings.
For the strata in the photograph above, I used:
Remains of an ageing Italian loaf
1 cup of milk
Leftover goats cheese
1 medium onion
The amounts for this recipe depend on the size of your dish, and the amount of leftovers you have. As you can see in the big photo above, I had a tad too much for my dish, but it still worked!
What to do
Grease your baking dish with butter
Whisk eggs and milk together, add salt and pepper to taste
If your vegetables and/or meat is not cooked, cook it first
Cut the bread into cubes (unless you are using up leftover breadcrumbs!)
Spread about a half of the bread on the bottom of the dish, followed by a layer of vegetables, then meat/fish (if you have any), then a layer of cheese.
Add another layer of vegetables, a layer of meat/fish, another layer of cheese and the top with the remaining bread.
Pour the egg and milk mixture over everything.
Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes (at a minimum) so the egg/milk mixture soaks into the bread. If you want to make this ahead of time you can leave it in the fridge for up to one day.
Bake, covered, at 350˚F (180˚C) for 30-40 minutes. If you want the top layer of bread to be browned and crunchy, uncover the strata for the last 5-10 minutes of baking.
Anything else I should know?
As I said earlier, this is a definite 5-pig recipe! It’s delicious, easy to prepare, can be made ahead of time and it’s a great way to use up your leftover food.
It’s also such a versatile recipe since it can be a breakfast, lunch or dinner dish. Want to make it a dessert? How about using adding some sugar to the milk and egg mixture and using up leftover fruit? Need a vegan dish? Replace the milk, cheese with vegan alternatives and the eggs with a broth
What do you think? Next time you have leftovers will you be making a strata? If so, what ingredients are you using? Share below!
If you're interested in food waste, check out these other posts: