Breakfast in a Jingle

Christmas is always a special time for me. I love having family and friends around, and preparing food for them is one way I spread the joy of the season. Some of my signature dishes are regularly requested, but at other times I just need to prepare something to take to a pot luck or brunch. A hearty and savory breakfast casserole is a good way to prepare a meal to share and it frees up your time in the mornings.

The basis for today’s recipe was found on Food Network but I made it my own. You can prepare the casserole the night before and refrigerate - this will allow the French bread to soak up all the egg mixture. Then in the morning, you pop it in the preheated oven and get ready for your day while a colorful and savory casserole cooks. No muss and no fuss.

Breakfast casseroles can be heavy, depending on the base. Many casseroles begin with potatoes, typically hash browns, but this one is based on French bread yielding more of a savory bread pudding mixture. I also used hot Italian sausage to give the dish some pep, as well as frozen spinach and red bell pepper for color. 

As the year draws to a close, we at the iList family hope that you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Safe New Year.  Live, Laugh, Love, and Eat Well.

Breakfast Casserole

  • 5 links (approximately 1 LB) Hot Italian Sausage, casings removed
  • 1 leek, white end chopped
  • 6 large eggs and 6 large egg whites
  • 1 ¾ cups 2% milk
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 to 9oz Frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained of excess liquid
  • ½ red bell pepper diced (about 1 cup)
  • ¾ to 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ loaf French bread cut into ¾ inch cubes (about 4 cups)
  • Cooking spray or butter
PRO TIP: If you don’t have leeks, you can substitute ½ cup shallots or a mild/sweet yellow onion finely diced.

In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, cook the sausage and break up any large chunks. When the sausage is starting to brown, add the leeks and bell pepper.  Cook until the leeks start becoming tender, about 5 minutes. Remove skillet and drain the mixture on paper towels to reduce the fat content.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, milk and ½ teaspoon each of salt and black pepper. Add the cooked sausage mixture, spinach, cheeses and bread. Use a rubber spatula and toss to evenly distribute the ingredients.

Spray a 3-quart casserole dish with cooking spray or grease with butter. Spread the egg mixture evenly in the dish. Cover the dish with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or at least 6 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Bake the casserole, uncovered, until set and lightly browned on top, about 30 minutes.  I typically broil this for a few minutes to get a nice toasted top.

Click Here to download a printable PDF of the recipe for this week!