Pepper and Onion Strata is great for a weekend brunch or quick weeknight dinner. Thin sliced peppers and red onions layer with small bites of crusty bread. Paprika and cumin spice the eggs mixed with your choice of milk (I prefer oat). Easy to bring together with what you have in the fridge and sure to delight a crowd, serve with a side of toast or roasted potatoes.
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A Family Recipe
I make some variation of peppers and onions every week. It’s not planned or coordinated. It just sort of happens.
When I’m grocery shopping I always buy peppers. Whether it’s red bell, green bell, Anaheim, poblano or jalapeño, I’m always buying peppers. So too I always have at least two varieties of onions on hand.
On nights I simply don’t know what to make for dinner, I will always turn to peppers and onions. Peppers and onions with potatoes, Sausage with peppers and onions or eggs with onions and peppers (like this dish). Somehow, it all leads me back to peppers and onions.
They’re cheap, reliable and familiar. Probably the same reason Italian immigrants, like my grandmother’s Sicilian family, turned to peppers and eggs to cheaply feed growing families.
While this recipe is certainly no Chicago pepper and egg sandwich (though you could use a variation of it to create one), it’s my own take on the Italian pepper and egg phenomenon.
Here I prefer to layer onion, peppers and small chunks of crusty bread for the egg to bake into. You could caramelize the onions and roast the peppers for a next-level pepper and egg strata. Or, keep things cheap, simple and delicious, much like my ancestors did.
Strata + Frittata – The Bread Difference
Peppers are something I often have sitting in the fridge, as well as a carton of eggs. It was easy enough to put together, and the addition of some bread and fresh herbs pulled it all together.
While I’ve titled this recipe a strata, you can think of it more as a combination of frittata and strata. Not quite as bread heavy as a strata, but enough bread added to not be considered a simple frittata.
The type of bread you use depends most on what bread you have. Yep, this is a “use what you have” kinda recipe — which, let’s admit, is always the best kind, right?
I had some focaccia on hand, so that’s what I used. The dryer the bread, the more it will soak up the egg mixture. However if you don’t have dry bread available, no worries! Just make sure you cut up the bread in small pieces.
Pepper and Onion Strata Ingredients
Simple ingredients combine to make a hearty and tasty dish. For this Strata you’ll need:
Red peppers work best, and add a great color to the dish. Sweet and flavorful, they hold up well to cooking without getting mushy.
Just like the peppers, red onions work best here. They soften nicely in the oven and provide a balance of sweet and oniony bite. White onions would be overpowering and sweet onions, too sweet!
Dill and basil are my preferred spices for this dish. Fresh basil from your own herb garden is always preferable. Dill, while unexpected, pairs beautifully with eggs.
For spices, I chose paprika and cumin. Bringing a bit of heat and warmth to balance the grassy herbs and sweet bite of peppers and onions.
Customize Your Pepper and Onion Strata
I used a combination of different bell peppers, but any peppers can be substituted. Red bell peppers are preferable, for their color and flavor. Or, try other peppers like Anaheim.
Add in a tablespoon of finely chopped jalapeño or habanero for an extra kick!
Fresh herbs add dimension and flavor. Choose your favorite herbs. For this recipe, I went with dill and basil. Parsley and cilantro would be great options as well. Mix and match to customize this recipe, or make it as written for an equally tasty dish.
Any sandwich, white bread works well in this recipe. Baguette, French bread, Italian bread, whatever you have available. I wouldn’t recommend a whole wheat or seeded bread, as that will adversely affect the texture of the strata.
Choosing the Right Bread
For bread, any bread works. Typically old, more dried out bread is used for strata. The trick with this recipe is to cut the bread into small pieces.
If you’d like, you can dry out your bread while the oven is preheating if necessary. To do so, follow these easy steps:
- Preheat the oven according to the recipe.
- Cut your bread up into small cubes. The smaller the better for best consistency and texture.
- Place the bread on a small baking tray and add to the oven. Allow to sit in the oven for 5 minutes, then check for dryness.
- If needed, allow to bake for another 5 minutes. You are looking for firm and dry, but not toasted or too crunchy.
- Allow the bread to cool before adding to the egg and veggie mixture.
How to Make Pepper and Onion Strata
Start by thinly slicing your peppers and onions. I like keeping them long and thin, as it makes for a really beautiful strata. Thinness matters, as too thick and they won’t cook all the way.
Next slice the bread into very small cubes. The smaller, the better! I much prefer the consistency of the small pieces of bread as opposed to large bready chunks throughout. The ones that peek up above the surface of the egg get nice and crispy, like a crouton. The ones that are submerged soften with the egg and help firm up the strata.
Finely mince the herbs. If using fresh herbs from the garden, be sure to wash them nice and thoroughly to ensure no dirt gets into the strata.
In a separate bowl, whisk together your eggs, oat milk, salt, pepper and spices. Once thoroughly combined, add in your fresh herbs and mix again to combine.
Next, prepare your pan. I prefer to use a circle of parchment at the base of my pan, as it makes for easy cleanup and ensures no egg will stick to the side of the pan.
To assemble the strata, work in layers. First add some of your sliced bell pepper, then some sliced onion and on top of that some small diced bread. Continue building these layers until all of the peppers, onions and bread are added to the pan.
Once you have added all of your pepper, onion and bread, it’s time to pour the egg. Carefully and gently pour the egg mixture evenly over the ingredients in the pan.
Now its ready to bake! Add a bit more fresh herbs on top, along with a crack of pepper if desired.
To bake, be sure to put the pan on top of a baking sheet. This helps distribute the heat evenly throughout the strata, and makes it easier to remove from the oven.
Tips and Tricks to Make the Best Pepper and Onion Strata
First, it’s important to note that baking times may vary. Baking egg-heavy dishes can be tricky.
Underbake and you’ll have a soft, unset center. Overbake and the egg becomes dried out, spongy and tough.
Look along the edges of the pan. Is the strata getting crispy along the edges? Is it slightly pulling away from the edge of the pan? That’s good!
What about the color? Is it getting a bit golden brown?
To check the center doneness of the strata, gently press on it with your finger. You are looking for some firmness. The center of your strata may be a little soft when you remove it from the oven. Let it set on the counter for 5-10 minutes before serving to finish setting up!
Strata Serving Suggestions
I love having this strata for a weekend breakfast. Between my husband and I, there’s usually three or four slices left over, which make a great snack the next day!
- Preheat the oven to 325℉.
- Thinly slice bell pepper and onion. Cube the bread into very small pieces. Set aside.
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together eggs and oat milk. Add salt, pepper, cumin and paprika. Finely chop your herbs of choice and mix in with eggs.
- Line a 9" round baking pan with parchment. At the bottom of the pan, start by layering half of the sliced pepper, then add half of the sliced onion, top with half of the bread. Repeat.
- Pour the egg mixture carefully over the peppers and onions, distributing it evenly throughout the pan.
- Place pan on a larger baking sheet and put in oven to bake for 25-30 minutes, or until middle is set and edges are crisped and pulling away from the sides of the parchment.