Many breakfast casseroles are variations on a strata, a term that is derived from the Italian word strato, which means layer. The most popular versions of breakfast stratas layer meats, vegetables, and cheeses between a bottom and top layer of bread cubes. A mixture of beaten eggs and milk (or another dairy product) is then poured over the entire casserole. The egg mixture seeps into the bread; once in the oven, the mixture bakes into a moist and comforting dish that's reminiscent of a savory bread pudding.
Breakfast casseroles are sometimes the easiest (and least expensive) dishes to get onto the breakfast table for family and guests. Many can be assembled the night before and baked in the morning. Better yet, they're infinitely adaptable. Once you get the basic formula down, you can use the meat, veggies, cheeses, and seasonings you like best to make a personalized morning casserole. Just follow this simple master plan.
Round up a handful of your favorite ingredients and you'll be 20 minutes away from popping this colorful casserole in the oven -- or into the fridge to bake up to one day later.
First, here are a few tips to keep in mind before you get started.
This recipe serves 6.
1. Cut Up 4 to 5 Cups Bread Cubes
You will need 6 to 8 slices of bread for 4 cups bread cubes. You can use white or wheat bread, baguette-style French bread, English muffins, pumpernickel, rye bread, or Texas toast. Stack several slices of bread. Cut into 1-inch-wide strips. While still stacked, cut the strips crosswise into 1-inch cubes.
2. Prepare the Baking Dish
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 2-quart baking dish.
Breakfast Casserole Tip: An easy way to grease the dish is to use a pastry brush to spread butter, margarine, or shortening over the bottom and sides of the dish.
3. Prepare the Ingredients
In a large skillet cook 4 strips of bacon until crisp. Transfer bacon to a plate lined with paper towels to drain, reserving 2 tablespoons drippings in the skillet. Crumble bacon; set aside. Add 1 sweet onion (halved and thinly sliced) to skillet; cover and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and cook over medium heat until caramelized, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, cook 2 cups broccoli florets in a small amount of lightly salted boiling water for 3 minutes; drain.
4. Mix Together
In a large bowl combine 5 eggs, 1-1/3 cups milk, 1/2 teaspoon basil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper. Stir in bread cubes, broccoli, caramelized onion, 4 ounces Muenster or Swiss cheese (cut into 1/2-inch cubes), and bacon. Transfer to a 2-quart baking dish. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 24 hours.
5. Bake Until Set
Bake casserole, covered, for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for 20 to 30 minutes more or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.