Friday, July 22, 2011

Veggie Breakfast Strata

A Strata is basically a layered casserole made with eggs, milk and bread.
I was looking for a breakfast casserole that could feed some weekend guests or feed me a few days during the work week when there is no time for a warm breakfast. You mix everything together and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator and then pop it into the oven for about 45 minutes to an hour in the morning. This is also a good way to sneak some vegetables into your family's breakfast. You can use any vegetables you want that go nicely together - I used broccoli and spinach with sauteed onions and red bell peppers but you could use asparagus, Swiss chard, tomatoes, artichokes, zucchini, summer squash, or any combination that works for you or happens to be in your refrigerator. You can also replace the bread with cooked potatoes if you prefer. I am eating a primarily vegetarian diet these days so I used a veggie "sausage" but you can use ham, bacon or regular sausage if you prefer. This is great during the holidays or anytime you find yourself with overnight guests. You can double or half the recipe depending on how many people you are serving. I would allow about 2 eggs per person and measure the remaining ingredients accordingly.

Serves 3 - 4

6 eggs
1 1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup half and half or cream
6 slices of bread, cut into cubes and aired to stale
1/2 stick butter
1 1/2 cups broccoli florets chopped, frozen or fresh
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped spinach
1 clove garlic, minced
2 veggie "sausage patties or 2-3 real sausage patties or links or 4 slices bacon cooked and crumbled
1 teaspoon Provencal or Italian mix herbs, dried or a handful of fresh chopped parsley
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, or mixed cheddar-jack cheese
A drop of liquid smoke (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut a pat of butter from the 1/2 stick of butter and butter a square casserole pan.
Chop break and lay out to get stale. Meanwhile, saute onions, red bell pepper until soft. Add garlic and saute another minute. Crumble veggie sausage and moving the sauteed onion mixture to the side, add sausage and cook until browned. Add broccoli and stir, cooking until softened and gives slightly when you mash it. Smash the broccoli and add the spinach. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook down until spinach is wilted. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Arrange half of the staled bread at the bottom of the baking pan. sprinkle with about 1/4 of the cheese. Spread half of the COOLED vegetable mixture over the bread and cheese. Sprinkle with another 1/4 of the cheese. Repeat with the remaining bread cubes, cheese and vegetable mixture. Beat the eggs and the milk and half and half together. Add liquid smoke if using. Pour this mixture over the casserole and cover with foil or a lid. Refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, bake at 350 degrees until egg is set and cooked. About 30-45 minutes, depending on the size of your pan. Let cool about 15 minutes and cut into squares. Serve with grits and fresh fruit.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Pasta salad with chick peas

I swear, I must have taken all but 15 minutes to pull this dinner together. It 's super easy and quick, healthy and delicious. What more could you want from a dish? I used whole grain pasta but you can use whatever type you like. Use a pasta with bite to it though, like penne, macaroni, shells or rotini.

Half box pasta
1 cup fresh or frozen broccoli
1 cup chopped tomatoes (you can use canned if that's all you have)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can chick peas, drained.
Parmesan cheese
Fresh herbs such as italian parsley, oregano or basil (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Dried Chilli pepper- a pinch
Olive oil, about 2 or 3 Tbsp

Cook pasta together with broccoli. If using frozen broccoli, rinse and add only the last 4-5 minutes of the pasta cooking time. When pasta is al dente, drain and save the cooking water. In the same pan you cooked the pasta in, return to medium heat and add olive oil, chilli flakes and garlic. Cook about a minute, until garlic is soft (don't burn it). Add chick peas and stir to mix. Add tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Add cooked pasta and enough pasta water to coat the pasta, about 1/2 - 1 cup liquid. Add fresh herbs and mix. Serve with parmesan cheese.