Since we went on holiday for Christmas break, we celebrated Christmas with my parents after New Year’s eve – about three weeks after the fact. I wanted a hearty, savory, and easy-to-make brunch meal for all of us.
On a random afternoon that I was home early and with no kids in tow, I was watching the Food Network channel and Giada De Laurentiis was on. She was making this Italian Sausage and Egg Bake recipe with spinach, sun dried tomatoes, homemade croutons and eggs. It looked so easy that I knew that I was going to make it for the Belated Christmas Brunch with the family.
I first served it to my mom and stepfather. They were so impressed that that I made it for the second Christmas brunch with my dad and stepmom. And they loved it, too! They even told my aunt who missed the brunch that I had actually cooked a delicious meal. Obviously, I don’t cook as often as I should!
Below is the recipe directly from Food Network’s website, with my editorial comments in *italics.
Italian Sausage and Egg Bake
Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis
1/2 small loaf country-style bread, cut into 1/2 to1-inch cubes (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 pound sweet Italian turkey sausage, casings removed *Depending on how many people you are having you can do anywhere between 6-8 large links of sausage. You can use turkey sausage, regular sausage, chicken sausage. I used a mixture of chicken sausage and pork sausage
One 10 to12-ounce package fresh baby spinach, drained
One 6.5-ounce jar oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil *My grocery store didn’t have any fresh basil so I skipped this, and it was still delicious!
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
One 5-ounce log goat cheese, coarsely crumbled (about 1 1/2 cups) *Depending on your guests, you can have this as a side, and each guest can put as much or as little goat cheese on top of their own serving.
6 large eggs
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Toss the bread cubes with 1 tablespoon oil and spread evenly in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the cubes begin to turn light golden around the edges, 10 to 12 minutes (do not over-brown as the bread cubes will continue to brown when baked atop the sausage in the dish). Remove from the oven and set aside.
Heat the remaining oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sausage. Break up the sausage with a wooden spoon and cook until the sausage has cooked through and the onion is soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the spinach and cook, stirring frequently, until wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and basil.
Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Spread the mixture evenly into a 13-by-9-by-2-inch glass baking dish or ceramic baking dish. Sprinkle the goat cheese on the mixture and arrange the bread cubes on top. Make 6 slight indentations in the mixture, spacing apart. Cover and chill. This can be prepared 2 hours ahead.
Crack 1 egg into each indentation, making sure to keep the yolks intact. Sprinkle the eggs lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Bake until the egg whites are set but yolks are still runny, about 15 minutes (or 18 minutes for a fully cooked yolk).
I served it buffet style with a bowl of mixed berries, Greek yogurt and honey, as well as some good ol’ carbs like a bunch of bagels with various kinds of cream cheeses and some yummy zucchini bread which I picked up at the Farmer’s market in TriBeCa. And of course coffee, and a variety of juices. I recommend a menu like this so that everyone can nosh, and if there are kids invited, they can pick and choose what they want to eat.