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Smoked Primo Pesto Italian Strata with Artichokes, Bacon and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

In partnership with @PrimoCeramicGrills. I absolutely love my Primo Ceramic Oval XL 400! The grill provides for such an excellent grilling experience! The success of my smoked meats and baked items on the Primo Ceramic Grill have boosted my cooking to a new level of flavor.

Bread, Milk, and Cheese Breakfast Casserole on the grill in a Lodge Cast Iron Casserole Dish.
Smoked Italian Strata so yummy and simple to grill!

If you have bread, eggs, and milk in the kitchen you have the makings of an impressive, delicious, and easy to bake casserole called a STRATA! A strata is a casserole that consists of combination of eggs, milk, cheese, and any vegetables and proteins you have in the kitchen. You can serve it for any meal, from breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. Stratas are generally served warm or at room temperature so it is a perfect potluck recipe.

Ingredients for a smoked salmon with artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, bacon, and pesto.
Ingredients for a delicious smoked strata!

The strata has an American origin. The earliest recipe has been found in a 1902 book, Handbook of Household Science. It is easy to tweak Strata and make it Italian, Mexican or Greek! Once you learn the basic egg to cream to bread ratio you will have unlimited choices on what cuisine to make it.

My Italian Strata flavor boosts are yummy marinated artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh herbs, mozzarella and parmesan cheese. When you give my recipe a try let me know how you are tweaking the strata recipe to make it your own! Tag: #GrillingGrandma!

Toasty strata made with bread, cheese, milk, artichokes and bacon.
Strata with bacon, artichokes, and sun-dried tomatoes


*Alternative Baking Pan: To bake strata in a 10-inch cast iron skillet follow the grilling instructions in the recipe but decrease the ingredients to 8 eggs, 1 1/2 cup milk, and 1 teaspoon salt. The remaining ingredients can be slightly decreased to your likings. My very favorite cooking pan for baking on the Primo Grill is cast iron.

The Difference Between Strata, Frittata, Bread Pudding: Frittatas are basically an Italian crustless quiche. The enriched egg mixture generally includes meat, cheese, and vegetables. A classic frittata is the Spanish Tortilla. Stratas in American cuisine is a bread casserole layered with eggs, cheese, and cream with flavor boosts of cooked breakfast meats, cheese, and aromatics. A strata is served warm. Bread Pudding has a greater ratio of cream to egg ratio and leans on a custard texture.

Smoked Strata on a Primo grill.
A perfect Make-Ahead for the next day when you still have hot coals!

The Benefit of Smoking Strata on the Grill: For one reason; eggs, milk, and bread love to absorb smoke! The addition of a few wood chunks to your Primo Grill will really boost the overall flavor.

Smoking Wood Chunks: Go with a light scented wood such as apple, maple, peach

or cherry. Two chunks will do ya!

When to Bake and Serve Strata: Strata can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner! Here is a tip, let’s say you have just finished grilling chicken for dinner. You still have some amazing hot embers. Go ahead and smoke the strata while you eat dinner. When the strata is done baking, cool, and wrap for breakfast the next day. Reheat strata slices in the microwave.

Primo Grill with a smoked strata in a casserole pan.
A strata can be served for brunch or dinner!

Make it Ahead: You can assemble the strata the day before to let the milk soak into the bread. If you do, make sure to store it in a plastic bowl not the cast iron you will be baking it in. I prefer not to make overnight strata, because it becomes too moist for my taste. I feel that the 30 minutes it takes to bring the Primo Grill to temp is the perfect amount of time to let the strata soften.

Substitution: Bread: any will do, stale brioche, day old sourdough, cornbread, biscuits, or any end-of-the-week bread. If I am buying fresh bread I use packaged bread that feels tight to the squeeze rather than a deli French loaf that is tender. Milk: Go ahead and use your dairy alternative milk! Eggs: Yes, you can use all egg whites you will just miss out on some creaminess unless you make up for it by using heavy cream or added cheese. Flavor Boosters: Any sautéed vegetable, leftover cooked meats, fresh finely chopped peppers, herbs, or roasted garlic, pepperoni, pepperoncini, olives, and sautéed mushrooms. Cheese: Gruyere, Pepper Jack, Fontina, Muenster, and Edam are my favorites. Seasoning: Go with your favorite herb blends, a teaspoon will do! Lemon zest? You bet!

A strata baked in cast iron casserole dish ready to plate.
Substitute any cheese, milk, meat, veggie, or herb in this strata!

Indirect heat method creates even baking heat from the sides, similar to convection baking in an oven. One big plus of indirect heating is that the bottom of the Strata will not become scorched. The Primo Ceramic Grill provides such a efficient consistent indirect heat that you may decided to bake all of your cookies, muffins, and casseroles in the grill. And ohhhh that smoky infusion takes baked goods over the top!

Leftover strata: Leftover strata can be cut into serving portions and frozen or stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave and re-crisp edges in a hot skillet with a splash of oil.

A cheesy bread pudding strata that is filled with artichokes, bacon, and sun-dried tomatoes.
Make-ahead brunch casserole that pleases everyone!


You Will Need:

2 Primo Heat Deflector Racks · 2 Primo Ceramic Heat Deflector Plates

We Also Suggest:

Primo Lump Charcoal · Primo QuickLights Fire Starters

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Category: Baking

Yummy all Seasons

Baked Italian Strata with Primo Lump Charcoal in the background.
Primo Lump Charcoal is my fave for smoking strata!

Recipe: Smoked Primo Pesto Italian Strata with Artichokes, Bacon and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Download PDF • 63KB

Smoked Primo Pesto Italian Strata

The Ingredients

12 large eggs

2 cups whole milk or half and half

1/4 cup prepared pesto

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon herb blend or dried Italian herb blend, optional

16 ounces bread loaf, chop into 1-inch cubes, divided

2 cups grated mozzarella cheese, divided

2 cups grated Italian cheese blend, divided

1 (13 oz) jar marinated artichoke hears, drained, chopped

1/2 cup chopped oil packed sun-fire tomatoes, drained, chopped

1 cup chopped green onions

1/4 cup basil, chopped

1 tablespoon parsley, minced

1 cup bacon or ham, chopped

Preparation Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, milk, pesto and salt.

  2. Grease a 9” x 13” grill safe pan, *See Tips above: Alternative pan is a 10-inch cast iron skillet.

  3. Fill whatever pan or skillet you using to the top with bread cubes.

  4. Pour half of the egg mixture over bread, fold in 1 cup of each cheese, artichokes, tomatoes, green onions, basil, and parsley. Carefully fold in bacon and remaining bread cubes.

  5. Fold in remaining egg mixture, and remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Set aside until the grill is ready. Allow the strata to sit while the grill comes to temperature to allow bread to absorb the egg and cream.

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Prepare Grill: Fill the bottom of the Primo Grill with Primo Lump Charcoal. Place a Primo QuickLights Firestarter at each end of the grill and ignite. Leave vents and lid open. Wait for 8-10 minutes for embers to begin to form.

  2. Set up grill for indirect heating using the Primo Heat Deflector Racks and Primo Ceramic Heat Deflector Plates. Insert grill racks on both sides of grill. Close the dome with the bottom draft door and top fully open.

  3. As the grill temperature approaches 400°F. adjust the vents to keep internal grill temperature at 400°F.

  4. Bake Strata: Place strata pan in the center of the grill. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown on top, and firm in the center with an internal temperature of 165°F.

  5. Remove strata from grill, let strata sit for 10 minutes. Slice and serve from warm pan or skillet.


  1. The heat and smoke on the Primo Ceramic Grill is so easy to regulate! I had been intimated to ignite a fire for cooking for many years then I received a Primo. Immediately, all my fears went away because the Primo Ceramic Grill is so easy to operate.

  2. Primo Lump Charcoal has NEVER failed me and ignites the very first time with a Primo QuickLight stick. Amazing!

  3. I have the Primo Oval XL 400. I love the size soooo much because it offers such a large cooking surface. I can smoke a two or more dishes at one time. It is allows for two zone cooking.

  4. The Primo Grill so versatile in how you can set up direct heat and indirect heat. I can grill, smoke, and bake yummy food.

  5. I love that the Primo Ceramic Grill is American made!


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