For the expert cook:
Save day-old bread and tear into inch-sized pieces - you need about two cups. White bread like ciabatta is usually best for a savory dish; wheat or whole grain makes it somewhat sweet. Saute your choice of vegetables such as onions, garlic, chard, broccoli, sweet peppers in a bit of olive oil. Whisk together 4 eggs and a cup of milk and add the sauteed vegetables. Season as you choose with salt pepper, fresh herbs and/or red pepper flakes. Place the bread in a greased loaf pan, sprinkle with grated cheese of choice. Pour the liquid mixture over it and press the bread pieces down into the liquid. Cover and refrigerate overnight. The next morning put the pan in the oven and turn the oven on to 350 (putting a cold pan in a hot oven may break it). Bake for about 45 minutes, until a knife comes out clean.
For the novice cook:
2 t. olive oil
1 c. chopped onion
¾ cups diced unpeeled Yukon gold potato (1 medium)
½ cup chopped red bell pepper
1 t. salt
2 c. ciabatta, sourdough or Italian bread cut into 1-inch cubes
½ c. grated or crumbled cheese of choice (brie, parmesan, feta, cheddar, goat)
4 ounces Brie cheese, rind removed and chopped
2 large eggs
1 t. dried herbs of choice
¼ t. freshly ground black pepper
2 c. milk
Sauté vegetables about three minutes or until tender. Add vegetables to whisked eggs and milk; stir in seasonings.
Place half of bread into a loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with half cheese. Top with remaining bread mixture and remaining cheese.
Pour egg mixture over bread mixture, pressing bread into the liquid. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight. Bake at 350° for 50 minutes or until set. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Riffs on the recipe:
French toast strata
Omit the vegetables and season the egg mixture with ½ c. sugar and 1 t. cinnamon. Serve with maple butter or maple syrup
Bananas foster french toast
Omit the vegetables and layer the bread with fresh bananas and sprinkle with brown sugar, 1 t. cinnamon and chopped pecans.