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Note: This post was edited January 2014 to better match the blog personality

I made an Italian inspired egg strata today for my friend’s weekly dinner themed “Breakfast Favorites” and forgot to add Prosciutto, an amazing dry-cured ham which goes great with all things Italian.  I sauteed shallots and garlic with ripe red tomatoes until the tomatoes just got juicy and then added basil and oregano until they started to wilt.  Eggs mixed with half and half create the paste which holds the baguette chunks together as they expand in the oven.  I used fresh ricotta cheese to bring it all together, and although it  smelled amazing; it wasn’t until I got it out of the oven that I remembered the Prosciutto.

Perhaps it will still taste amazing, and if I’ve learned anything about baking it’s don’t apologize about anything.  Everyone loves homemade food, especially baked goods regardless of how it came about.  It’s only us perfectionists that judge our own creations so severely.

My friend works at an authentic Italian restaurant and I’m always a little thrown off by the Prosciutto which is added on top of the baked pizza not cooked with it.  It must seem sacreligious to an Italian to cook a ham which takes nine months to cure; essentially drained, salted, and dried out.  In that instance, I will slice up the Prosciutto and serve it on the side of the strata with no apologies!

Italian Egg Strata with Ricotta Cheese

Ingredients

  • 2 shallots chopped
  • 3-5 garlic cloves chopped
  • 16 ounces ripe red tomatoes, sliced with juice
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn in half
  • 4 sprigs oregano leaves (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 13 eggs
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 Tbs half and half
  • 4 cups cubed french baguette
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh ricotta cheese
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 deg. F.
  2. In a food processor or with a knife, chop the shallots and garlic until they are just slightly chunky.
  3. Heat olive oil in a skillet and saute the shallots and garlic over medium heat for 1-2 minutes.  Add the sliced tomatoes and juice and saute over medium heat until the tomatoes just start to get juicy.  Add the basil and oregano and saute just until the basil starts to wilt.  Set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs and half and half until smooth.  Stir in the vegetables.  Fold in the baguette chunks and ricotta cheese until well mixed.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Pour into a greased 9×13 baking dish.  Bake, uncovered, for 35-40 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
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