What I love the most about frittatas and stratas is that, even though they are filled with other meats and vegetables, they make wonderful main dinner courses, yet, are still light enough for brunches. And, of course, the ingredients are whatever you want them to be, which means they can be as fresh as today or part of a week's menu planning. So delicious.
I'm giving two methods of preparing the potatoes so that all the vegetables will finish at the same time. Using a microwave to bring up the internal temperature and start the cooking process for dense vegetables will do this -- and, the skins almost fall off.
Potato, Ham, Spinach-Purslane Solar Strata
4 medium potatoes, barely precooked*, very thinly sliced
1 large onion, thinly sliced
6 slices cooked ham, cross-sliced in strips
1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
1 cup fresh purslane, chopped
1 cup cabbage, thinly sliced
1 large apple, cored and thinly sliced
1-5oz can evaporated milk + 1 can of water
1 teaspoon each: fresh oregano, parsley,
1/2 teaspon each: fresh thyme, rosemary, mint, stevia
1/2 teaspoon mild curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cream or tartar
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup shredded cheese(s), your choice, added in last 20 minutes of baking
1/2 tablespoon butter, room temperature
1. *Potatoes, Method 1: Cook whole potatoes on half power in microwave for 4-1/2 minutes; place in cold water for 10 seconds, slide/peel off jackets and slice thinly. Method 2: Pare potatoes, place in covered dish, cook in microwave for 4-1/2 minutes; let cool and slice thinly.
2. Pre-slice and chop all other vegetables and place in the order you will be layering in your lightly-greased 6-quart casserole. My order was: greens on bottom (first layer only), ham, potatoes, onions, apple, cabbage, spinach, purslane, ham, for three layers.
3. *Saute the spinach, purslane, and cabbage, for a minute or two to prevent the natural water in these vegetables from making your strata too wet. Drain before adding to casserole.
4. In a separate mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, water, herbs and spices, plus 1 tablespoon of shredded cheese. Carefully pour over layered ingredients. Cover and bake in solar oven for at least 70 minutes.
Serve with fresh fruit or on a trio of fresh spinach leaves for an elegant brunch.
*Leafy vegetables contain natural water that they release during cooking. When making egg dishes, this liquid can overwhelm and prevent the eggs from rising, so it is suggested that you first lightly saute, then cool and drain them before adding to your strata. As I'm not a professional chef, when I'm just cooking for myself and sister, it doesn't really matter to me and I'm happy to simply remove the excess liquid with a turkey baster to use it for soups. But, for guests, I would saute, cool and drain all leafy vegetables for a better presentation. As you can see, I did not do that for this recipe and ended up with almost two cups of delicious broth for my laziness!