Traditional strata is an interesting dish. It is supposed to be layers of white bread alternated with layers of cheese, then soaked in a milk mixture and baked. Since then, the milk mixture has been augmented with eggs to give it a custard-like texture and the layers now are not so much layers, per say, as additions mixed in. This vegan version uses aquafaba to create an eggy texture and everything has a southwestern flair. Instead of white bread, it uses cornbread and it's packed with sautéed peppers, onions, cilantro, and chorizo-spiced chickpeas. Top with vegan queso fresco and you're good to go!
Southwestern Strata [Vegan, Gluten-Free]
For the Chorizo Chickpeas:
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas
- 2 tablespoons vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
For the Mix-Ins:
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 6 cups stale vegan cornbread, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 cup crumbled vegan cheese (optional)
For the Batter:
- 6 tablespoons aquafaba (liquid from a can of chickpeas)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups unsweetened plain non-dairy milk
- 1 teaspoon psyllium husk powder
For the Topping:
- Preheat the oven to 450°F. Combine the chickpeas, broth, vinegar, oil, chili powder, oregano, cumin, paprika, and salt on a baking sheet. Mix well and bake for 15 minutes. Set aside.
- Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the bell pepper and onion to the skillet. Cover and cook until the onion is browning, about 4-5 minutes, stirring often. Add a splash of broth if the onion is beginning to burn. Using a cover will prevent too much evaporation and help brown the vegetables without oil.
- Add the aquafaba to a blender. With the blender running on medium speed, add the oil slowly. Add the milk in a steady stream (doesn’t have to be slowly) and the psyllium. Blend for 20 seconds. Add to a large bowl.
- Add the cornbread, cilantro, cheese (if using), and reserved chickpeas. Mix well and set aside for 10 minutes. Add to a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish and bake in a 325°F oven for 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside for 10 minutes to firm up. Serve.