We will be returning to Lake Lure for Christmas. It is exciting to contemplate cold snowy weather, a roaring fire and a fresh Frasier Fir tree decorated with our collection of ornaments from the past. One of our Christmas traditions has always been a breakfast casserole. I have experimented with many versions over the years and yesterday I experimented with this version from Bon Appetit. I love it. Most breakfast casseroles incorporate the bread cubes into the mixture. In this case there is a layer of sourdough baguette slices on the bottom and up the sides of the casserole. The outside slices get nicely crisp and the sausage, egg mixture is nestled in the center. It is full of green spinach and roasted red peppers which give it a festive appearance. This is what I will be fixing for Christmas morning. I have a feeling it will become our traditional dish for many years to come.
16 1/4 inch thick sourdough baguette slices, cut on slight diagonal
1 Tablespoon butter
12 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
1 1/2 cups grated Fontina cheese, divided
3/4 cup diced drained roasted red peppers (from 12 ounce jar)
6 large eggs
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup whole milk (I used skim)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 X 8 X 2 baking dish. (I used a 12 X 8 X 3 inch dish and found it to be just perfect). Place 8 baguette slices in bottom of dish, press remainder of slices around sides.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in large skillet over medium high heat. Add spinach, toss until just wilted, about 3 minutes. Transfer spinach to strainer; cool. Squeeze spinach dry. Transfer to medium bowl.
Heat same skillet over medium high heat. Add sausage. Saute until cooked through, breaking up, about 7 minutes. Mix into spinach; mix in 1 cup sheese and peppers. Spread atop baguette slices in bottom of dish.
Whisk eggs in medium bowl to blend. Whisk in last 4 ingredients. Pour over spinach mixture and stir lightly with fork to distribute evenly. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup cheese over.
Bake torta until puffed and golden and center is set, about 55 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest 15 minutes before serving.
Note: Most breakfast casseroles can be assembled the night before and baked it the morning. I have not tried that with this casserole. I will probably fry the sausage, saute the spinach, slice the bread and dice the peppers the night before and assemble the dish in the morning.