Bagel Strata with Spinach and Broccoli

How to make a dish that’s a complete meal for four with ingredients that came exclusively from this week’s Plenty! Food Pantry? At this risk of being boring, it’s another delicious egg dish.  Next time it won’t be – I promise. I tried to make an Indian-style creamed spinach with chicken last week but it didn’t turn out very well and needs a do-over. Fortunately spinach is currently in-season at Plenty!  

So I had the the usual great veggies, a dozen eggs and some great whole wheat bagels – what can I make that uses all of that?  A strata…. The strata is a baked egg dish made of several layers with bread chunks at the bottom. It’s kind of like a savory French Toast combined with an omelette – but it’s easier to make than both of those.  Since most of the cooking time is in the baking, it’s really simple and it’s a great way to make use of leftovers like meat, random veggies and “less fresh” bread (in the old days, French Toast was how cooks made use of stale bread).

Regarding the bagels:  Plenty has awesome stuff every week but an area that we consistently excel is the Bread Department.  Almost every week we have a wide representation of bread to suit almost any taste, from the soft white to whole grain bread plus bagels, english muffins, french bread and specialty items from restaurants which  I’m pretty sure I can’t name here.

Like most casseroles, strata ingredients can vary, so feel free to improvise.  For this one I used:

A dozen eggs

3 Handfuls of chopped broccoli

3 Handfuls of chopped spinach

One diced red peppers

4-5 Bagels, toasted and chopped into one inch cubes

½ Cup milk

½ Cup cheddar (totally optional.  I didn’t really notice it and would have left it out of this recipe but it weren’t in the pictures)

Spices:  salt and pepper to taste, herbs like basil or oregano if you have them.

First, lightly toast the bagels for a couple minutes under the broiler.  It takes some moisture out and makes them less heavy but might not be necessary, as the experts do not agree.   Leave the oven on afterward so it preheats to 400 degrees.

Cut or tear the bagels into one inch-ish chunks.  Spread half of them into the lightly greased bottom of your 12”x8”-ish baking dish, like so:

Chop your broccoli and put most of it on top of the bagel chunks.  If you have some leftover ham or one of Plenty!’s cans of chicken breast,  like I was wishing I had – I’d layer it on top of the broccoli. Next time I will definitely add some halved cherry or sliced tomatoes at this point.

Chop up your spinach..  In a big bowl – mix up your eggs with the half cup of milk and add salt and pepper and whatever other herbs or spices float your boat (I put turmeric in almost everything). Then add the veggies and mix well.

Add the remaining bagel chunks.

And real quickly pour the entire mixing bowl over the casserole dish, before the bagels bits soak up all the eggs in the bowl.  Sprinkle the optional cheese on top. It might look a little weird, with the eggs sinking beneath the other stuff. Don’t worry…

…. Because after 30 minutes at 400 degrees on the middle rack, the whole thing rises considerably and kinda swells up like a wonderful big pastry or loaf of bread.My editor has made me aware that some people might not like how I like to brown the top of stuff.  Keep an eye on it in the last 5 minutes to prevent this. My editor says she will make sure I avoid this in the future. I hadn’t made this before and it turned out really well.  Like most baked casserole dishes it’s very forgiving and a few changes or a few minutes aren’t going to make a big difference.  I took a better picture with an added dollop of sour cream but I can’t find it. Enjoy!

….If you’ve read this far,  you might want to read more.  The recipe that I adapted this dish from is called “Sunday Brunch: Empty the Fridge Strata” from, which is my favorite cooking website.  Their version is definitely more concise, but in the future I hope to be paid by the word.

– Douglas the Cook’n with Plenty! Chef

Cook’n with Plenty! First Blog Posting – Kale Frittata with fresh herbs

Hi – my name is Douglas and I’ve been both a patron and volunteer at Plenty! for a couple of years.  I like to cook and talk about cooking so I figured I’d try my hand at writing a bit about it here.   I’ve worked as a cook and I’m a fan of the Food Network show Iron Chef – where two cooks compete to make the best dish using only a specific few ingredients.   In a couple restaurants where I’ve worked, we would stage amateur versions of Iron Chef at the end of the night, using up whatever ingredients that remained from the day’s specials.

Sometimes when we get home from Plenty! I’ll do a similar thing and try to make something just using the ingredients  Plenty! provided, or maybe with only one or two things added.   So with that in mind, I did this today and actually took some pictures and it turned out alright, so maybe you’d like to try it.   If not, this will let me show off the great and healthy ingredients Plenty! can help people add to their kitchen.  Everything in this recipe with the exception of the salt and pepper came from the Plenty! Food Pantry last week.

A frittata is basically an egg casserole or baked omelette.  Like most things I make – it is a one-pan dinner and it even contains a good serving of vegetables. Picky eaters who might turn up their noses at kale or spinach might not even notice them when they have been diced and steamed and added to this hearty and savory dish.  (How about:  Don’t tell them there is spinach and kale in it?  When I think about these issues I am ever grateful that I do not have children.)  It can be served at any time of day and it’s easier to prepare than an omelette and provides more servings/feeds more people.

Please shift the ingredients around if you don’t have exactly what I used or don’t like what I used – so long as you have a good number of eggs and some kind of 2″-3″ deep cooking pan.  This will easily feed a family of four or be good for several meals.
Frittata with spinach kale onions peppers and herbs
A dozen eggs (give or take)
Half an onion or some shallots and garlic, diced
3 bell peppers, diced
A bunch of kale and spinach, diced
Some basil and parsley, diced
A few cherry tomatoes, cut in half.

A bit of oil, salt and pepper to taste.


Preheat oven to 350.  Mix the eggs together in a big bowl and then add the tomatoes and herbs and seasonings.  In a large pan and with a bit of oil, saute the onions, peppers and garlic, adding the spinach and kale at the end.  Mix it all together and pour it back into the pan.  Cook on the stove top for 5 minutes at medium-high heat.  Put the uncovered pan into the oven for 20-25 minutes (if using 6 eggs – aim for 15-20 minutes).  Check for doneness with a fork and serve.

Here are my ingredients – all of which came from Plenty! (except for the paprika and pepper) including the optional fresh basil and parsley in the vases in the top right.

So I diced everything up.  I prefer cherry tomatoes this time of year and I just cut them in half.  A shallot is a fancy onion and I just used them because they were on hand, usually I just use regular onions.

Mix up the eggs with a pinch of salt and whatever other seasonings you feel are necessary – in our case I used black pepper and paprika.

Add the tomatoes, basil and parsley to the eggs.

I like to saute my onions and peppers first – but it’s probably unnecessary since you are going to be baking it for 30 minutes – but this is how I did it.  I sauteed the onions, adding garlic in the last couple minutes and mixed it into the egg bowl.

Then I remembered I had some bell peppers so I sauteed those, adding the spinach and kale at the end.  I was worried the kale might be too chewy if I didn’t steam it first.  I could have done this all in one step with the onions and you can please feel free to mark me down a grade for this inefficiency.  I will do better next time.

Then I mixed everything together with the eggs. And poured it into my pan.

And cooked it on the stove top at medium-high heat for 5 minutes.

Then put it – uncovered – into the oven (preheated at 350) for 25 minutes. And this is the result.  Stick a fork in the top to make sure it’s done – mine was pretty thick and the eggs were still a bit runny so I gave it another 5 minutes.  This is why the frittata is so much easier to make than an omelette – since the temperatures are low it is difficult to burn and a few minutes on either side of “perfectly done” isn’t going to ruin it.  I might look like I kinda know what I’m doing – but half of my omelettes didn’t turn out well and I got tired of trying – and casserole style dishes like this feed more people, more often.  It’s difficult to make an omelette that will feed 4.

I garnished it with a bit of parsley and cheddar cheese because it looks good and I was taking pictures of it, right? Totally unnecessary and optional.

And it’s ready to serve.  I like mine with a bit of salsa and sour cream if it’s available.  I cut this one up into 8 or so slices and wrapped them up so we could take them to work.

There you have it – it really isn’t difficult and I probably could have made it seem a lot easier.  Total cook time was 45 minutes but only about 20 of that was actual work.
– Douglas the Cook’n with Plenty! Chef