Archive for February, 2006

February 16, 2006

Sicilian Strata and Four-Bean Salad

One of my favorite things is cooking with friends and family. A few summers ago I was in my parent’s kitchen having a late-night cooking bash with a good childhood friend. I was preparing a brunch for my parents, a meal I consider quite American. While the name “Sicilian Strata” doesn’t scream American, its ingredients seem to me to be a fancier, very tasty version of scrambled eggs with bacon. My friend was putting together a bean salad, a recipe she learned by heart through cooking with her mother. The salad hails afternoon picnics or family potlucks, happy memories from sunny summer days.

Not starting until 9:30 that evening, we were talking, laughing, and cooking together until well past midnight. Not because these are difficult recipes (don’t be fooled by the long list of ingredients in the strata!), but because we took our time, sampled our foods, and shared stories. She shared her recipe with me, writing it into my notebook in which I collect all sorts of concoctions (good and bad!). Below you will find the two recipes we made.

Four-Bean Salad

1 can yellow wax beans
1 can French cut green beans
1 can garbanzo beans (also known as chic peas)
1 can kidney beans
1 bell pepper, sliced
1 onion, sliced in rings or French cut
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
pepper, salt, and paprika to taste

1. Strain beans, chop pepper and onions.
2. Mix oil, vinegar, sugar, pepper, paprika, and salt separately; mix dressing with other ingredients; let sit overnight in tightly-closed container. Flip container for even distribution.

Sicilian Strata

Note: These can be assembled the night before to make brunch preparation the day of easier.

1 loaf (ca. 1 lb.) crusty Italian-style bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 ounces thick-sliced prosciutto or ham, diced
1/4 cup chopped roasted red peppers
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 can (14.5 oz.) chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup pitted black olives, coarsley chopped
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
6 large eggs
3 cups milk
2 teaspoons dried oregano and/or marjoram
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 teaspoons drained capers

1) Spread half the bread cubes level in a lightly oild 9×13 inch baking dish. Top evenly with prosciutto, peppers, green onions, and parmesan cheese. Spread remaining bread cubes level on top, followed by tomatoes, olives, and mozzarella.

2) In a bowl, whisk eggs, milk, herbs, salt, and pepper to blend. Pour over layered ingredients. Cover and chill at least 1 hour or overnight.

3) Bake in a 325 degrees Farenheit oven until center of strata is set and top is lightly browned (ca. 40-50 min). Let stand 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature garnished with parsely and capers.