Originally created 04/12/06

Pineapples, cheese make savory blend

Some food combinations will always be favorites - steak and potatoes, marshmallows and chocolate, and blue cheese and pears all come to mind. One combination that's a perennial favorite is ham and pineapple.

Rather than garnishing my Easter ham with pineapple rings, I like to serve the pineapple on the side in my pineapple-cheddar strata. The recipe combines two of my favorite pineapple side dishes. The first, a brown sugar and pineapple strata that is sweet and bread puddinglike. The second is a pineapple-cheddar bake that combines chunks of pineapple, butter, flour and cheddar cheese for the perfect sweet and savory treat.

Here, the two recipes intersect in a luscious, sweet strata that's made slightly savory with the addition of shredded sharp cheddar cheese.

I like to use Pepperidge Farms French bread for this recipe because the crust is softer than most traditional French loaves. The bread cubes are tossed with a combination of crushed pineapple, shredded sharp cheddar cheese, beaten eggs, brown sugar and melted butter.

Cheddar and pineapple might sound like an unlikely combination, but there are other recipes that combine cheese and pineapple - think Hawaiian pizza. The combination is similar to melting some cheddar cheese atop a slice of apple pie, which is a traditional way to enjoy the pie up North. If you don't want to give the combination a try, simply omit the cheese for a dish that's still delicious.

The strata can be assembled and refrigerated overnight, making it perfect for holiday entertaining.

Pineapple-Cheddar Strata

1 loaf soft French or Italian bread, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

8 eggs, beaten

1 cup light-brown sugar

1/2 cup melted butter

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray. Combine the bread, pineapple and cheese in a large bowl. Beat the eggs, sugar and butter together in another bowl. Fold egg mixture into the bread mixture and spread all in the prepared baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until puffed and golden.

Makes 12 servings.

Nutritional information per serving: 309 calories, 17 grams fat (10 grams saturated), 29 grams carbohydrates, 10 grams protein, 181 milligrams cholesterol, 274 milligrams sodium, 0 grams dietary fiber.

Nutritional analysis provided by registered dietitian Rachel Brookshire, nutritional education specialist for the Richmond County School Nutrition Program, in conjunction with the Augusta Area Dietetic Association.

Coming next week: Thai beef and noodle curry combines Asian ingredients from your supermarket for a pasta change of pace. (This is the first of two Thai-inspired beef dishes.) See Karin prepare the recipe at noon Tuesday on WJBF-TV (Channel 6).

Write to Karin Calloway in care of The Augusta Chronicle Newsroom, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, ga 30903-1928. Or send e-mail to karin.calloway@comcast.net. You can find previous quick cooking recipes through the online archive at augustachronicle.com/karin.


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