eggplant strata two ways

Around these parts, the word “breakfast” often rhymes with “eggs.” I love and adore these little nutritional powerhouses, but one can only have them boiled, fried and frittata-ized so many times before getting a bit of taste fatigue.

Fortunately, however, there are folks out there who are far more culinarily creative than me. I’d been hearing tons of Paleo-centric praise for Melissa Joulwan and her fantastic recipes. After coming across her Italian sausage eggplant strata for the umpteenth time, I decided it was time to just make it already.

Halfway through the process, I was suspicious. I wanted some unique techniques, and I sure got them. Melissa instructs you to beat and pour raw eggs into a cooled tomato base, resulting in a scary-looking, salmon pink-colored goo. Trust in the process, though, because the sauce will cook down into luxurious magic. I shared this dish with friends, who enthusiastically confirmed its addictive mix of flavors and textures: creamy, savory, tangy, hearty, healthy. Set aside the time to make this, because it’ll provide you with a week of eggy, edgy breakfast.

Italian sausage eggplant strata

Recipe adapted from Melissa Joulwan’s Well Fed: Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat, courtesy of Mmmm Paleo

Note: Stratas, like so many egg-based dishes, are incredibly easy to tweak. Feel free to sub the two pounds of ground pork with whatever protein you’d prefer. I split the recipe into halves, creating two mini-stratas: a vegetarian one with four diced portabello mushroom caps; and another using a pound of ground turkey. If you’re pressed for time and want to skip making the seasoning, I’m sure you’d be just fine using pre-made Italian-spiced sausage.

There are many steps involved and many components to cook, cool, and assemble. As such, I’ve laid out an optimized schedule below. Fear not — while it does take some time to make, the recipe is actually quite simple!

First, fire up your oven and roast those wedges of eggplant.

While the eggplants are roasting, start on your tomato sauce. Pan-fry some garlic until golden and fragrant.

Add in your spices and tomatoes and stir. Then, set the sauce aside to cool. You want it at room temperature, since you don’t want them to cook the eggs (which we’ll be adding later).

This isn’t part of Melissa’s recipe, but it’s an easy enough substitution. For my vegetarian strata, I subbed out the turkey sausage with an equal weight of chopped and stir-fried portobello mushrooms. I made sure, however, to toss them with the prescribed Italian seasoning for a kick of flavor.

Pan-frying the ground turkey!

By now, the eggplant is probably done roasting (don’t forget to pull them from the oven) and the tomato sauce has cooled. At this point, beat some eggs together and pour it into the tomato sauce. It’s gonna look and feel real weird.

It’s gonna look and feel even weirder once you mix it all up. This picture just screams “salmonella” to me. Ignore that hypochondriac voice.

Because I’m neurotic, I pre-arranged the eggplant discs to ensure optimal layering action.

Now, in a dish, begin layering the roasted eggplant and fillings.

Here’s what the vegetarian one looked like.

The sauce will look a bit bizarre when you ladle it on top, but, once again, shoulder on.

This is what the strata looked like moments before going into the oven for 45 minutes. Not too appetizing, I know…

… but the finished product is a sight to behold. It might still look a bit (shall we say?) interesting, but rest assured that it’s one delicious mess.

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One thought on “eggplant strata two ways

  1. Pingback: greatest hits of 2014 | yours, julie

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