When it's the middle of the week and I am tired, cranky, and busy, I like to make myself a delicious strata - something between an omelette and a crustless quiche. There is virtually no cooking involved in this strata recipe - all you have to do is assemble the pieces and throw them into the oven for a little less than an hour. While it bakes you can unwind in the bath or read a magazine. Use a store-made basil pesto and purchase a bag of pre-grated cheese to cut prep time in half. For a heartier strata, toss sun-dried tomatoes and prosciutto into the dish before baking. Don't ask yourself what's for dinner tonight - simply make this dish - trust me you'll be satisfied, just

Mozzarella and Pesto Strata
From Betty Crocker

16 slices (3/4 inch thick) French bread (1/2 pound)
1/2 cup store bought basil pesto
1/2 cup sliced ripe olives
1 cup roasted red bell peppers, (from 12-ounce jar), drained and sliced
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (8 ounces)
8 eggs
2 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons freshly shredded Parmesan cheese

  1. Spray rectangular baking dish, 13x9x2 inches, with cooking spray.
  2. Spread one side of each bread slice with pesto. Arrange bread, pesto sides up, in bottom of baking dish, cutting slices to fit if necessary.
  3. Sprinkle with olives, bell peppers and mozzarella cheese.
  4. Beat eggs, milk, salt and pepper until well blended. Pour evenly over cheese in dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  5. Heat oven to 325ºF. Bake uncovered 55 to 60 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean and top is golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting.

Serves 8.

Make ahead: cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

Nutrition Information: 1 Serving: Calories 360 (Calories from Fat 200 ); Total Fat 22 g (Saturated Fat 8 g); Cholesterol 235 mg; Sodium 720 mg; Total Carbohydrate 21 g (Dietary Fiber 2 g); Protein 21 g Percent Daily Value*: Vitamin A 34 %; Vitamin C 24 %; Calcium 42 %; Iron 12 % Exchanges: 1 Starch; 1 Vegetable; 2 High-Fat Meat; 1 Fat