I love a good breakfast casserole but since we try to avoid ham, bacon and sausage (boohoo), substituing fresh vegetables was a terrific alternative. I’m not saying this casserole is fat free or vegan but it is terrifically tasty, even without the meat. Fresh leafy green spinach, ripe cherry tomatoes and chopped sweet onion provide color and flavor especially when combined with a hearty Italian bread, fresh thyme and Gruyere cheese. Did I mention that you mix it up the night before so not only is it easy and tasty, this Spinach, Onion & Cheese Breakfast Strata is perfect for Christmas morning or any time you want a hearty breakfast, sans the meat.
The recipe is easily doubled but, as written, it should serve 4 hungry holiday enthusiasts.
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A delicious make-ahead, overnight breakfast or brunch casserole. With hearty chunks of Italian bread, ripe cherry tomatoes and rich Gruyere cheese
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 4 cups Italian bread, crust removed, cut into 1-inch cubes
- salt and pepper
- 1 small sweet onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half with some pulp squeezed out / removed
- 3 cups, packed fresh baby spinach (about 3 ounces)
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper, optional
- 2 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded
- 1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/4 cups half-and-half
- Lightly grease a small casserole dish.
- In a large bowl toss the bread cubes together with 1 tablespoon olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bread cubes and cook, tossing occasionally, until they are light brown. Remove the pan from the heat. Put half the bread in the casserole dish and the other half in the large mixing bowl. Set aside to cool.
- Wipe out the skillet and add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Heat until shimmering then add the onions. Sauté the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme and a dash of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly for about 1 minute or until the garlic is fragrant. Add the spinach and cook until the the spinach is wilted. Remove the pan from the heat.
- Sprinkle half the cheeses over the bread cubes in the casserole dish then top with the spinach onion mixture and half the tomatoes. Layer the remaining bread cubes over the spinach, then top with the remaining tomatoes, Gruyere and Parmesan.
- In the large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, crushed red pepper and the half-and-half. Season with a dash of salt and pepper and gently pour the eggs over the spinach and bread cubes.
- Cover the casserole dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- Thirty (30) minutes before baking, remove the dish from the refrigerator. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake until the custard is set, about 45 - 50 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
- Cool for 15 minutes before serving.
Easily doubled to serve a large family
We were thrilled with the flavor and texture of this delicious dish. I think you will love it too! Do you make a big breakfast on Christmas morning? We used to when our children were at home. This year we’re going over to our daughters house to watch grandson Isaac open gifts from Santa. I think it will be such fun! Kids make it all so special. Hope your presents are wrapped and the cookies all baked. I have a little more fudge and toffee to make for family, they always seem to be last on the list. Have a great weekend and thanks so much for stopping by!