07.19.2017

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I swear we haven’t eaten inside our house in almost a week. I am constantly carting smoothies, bowls of yogurt, sandwiches, and platters of fruit outside to gobble down on the porch or in the yard. We’ve spread blankets, set up beach chairs, and gathered around picnic tables to chow down. Sometimes it’s just us and sometimes we’re surrounded by friends. It’s true that summer food just tastes better out in the fresh air, I’m sure of it. The best type of food to eat outside, in my opinion, is one-pot dishes that are good warm or at room temperature. Things that travel well, don’t need anything more than a serving spoon, and require only one trip from the kitchen to the grass.

Here, I’m sharing my favorite summer picnic crowd please – Tomato & Basil Strata. This dish is perfect for brunch, a picnic lunch (served with a big green salad and fresh berries), or a beach dinner (served with grilled steak and corn on the cob). You can assemble it ahead of time and bake it off whenever you have a free moment or a cool kitchen. The classic combination of tomatoes, basil, and rich Kerrygold Dubliner Cheese (similar to cheddar – nutty and somewhat sweet hard cheese) is a summer entertaining home run.

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Tomato-Basil Strata

Serves 8 to 10

 1 yellow onion cut into thin ribbons

 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

8 cups cubed French or Italian bread cut into 1-inch chunks

 6 ounces coarsely grated Kerrygold® Dubliner Cheese (2 cups)

 3 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, roughly torn

 8 large eggs

 2 3/4 cups milk

 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

 1 teaspoon salt

 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

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Cook the onion in the butter over medium-high heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and cook for another 7 to 10 minutes, until the vegetables are soft and starting to caramelize. Now build the strata in layers. Butter a 3-quart gratin dish or other ceramic baking dish. Start with the bread – spread 1/2 of the cubes in the bottom of the dish, top with 1/2 of the vegetables mixture and 1/2 of the cheese. Repeat the layering with remaining bread, vegetables, cheese, and top with torn basil.

Next, whisk the eggs, milk, mustard, salt, and pepper together in a large bowl and pour it evenly over the strata. Cover with foil and chill the strata for at least 8 hours or up to a day.

Before baking, let it stand at room temperature for 30 minutes while preheating the oven to 350°F. Bake strata, uncovered, in the middle of the oven until puffed, golden brown, and cooked through, about 35 to 45 minutes. Let it stand 5 minutes before serving.

This recipe is sponsored by Kerrygold® USA and Martha Stewart Living.

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