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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Breakfast Strata With Pesto And Sausage

I love a breakfast casserole.  Anyone who knows me at all knows I'm not a morning person.  The greatness of a breakfast strata is that it's prepared the night before and refrigerated.  The only effort required to turn it into a brunch treat the next day is to remove it from the fridge and pop it into the oven.  Winning!!!  I also have childhood issues with eggs, namely runny yolks, so I particularly love a breakfast casserole that disguises the eggs amongst a myriad of ingredients.

I wanted to make a slightly healthier version of the traditional breakfast strata.  I used 100% whole wheat bread instead of the traditional white French bread.  I used low fat milk and part-skim mozzarella.  I would have used a lower-fat turkey Italian sausage if I had it on hand, but since I didn't I used traditional pork Italian sausage this time.  I mixed chopped spinach with the pesto.  Sneaky Mommy Alert:  If you have a picky kiddo who doesn't like veggies but does like pesto, you can hide all kinds of chopped or grated green veggies in pesto!  Tricking your kids into eating veggies is fun!

For the dry bread cubes you can cube bread that has sat open for a day to dry out or cube fresh bread and dry it in a 250 degree oven for 30-45 minutes.

Recipe For Breakfast Strata With Pesto And Sausage

6 cups dry bread cubes
1 lb. Italian sausage, mild or spicy
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cups packed baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup pesto, homemade or store-bought
8 eggs
4 cups milk
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Brown, drain, cool, and crumble the sausage.  Pat with paper towels if necessary to remove excess grease.

While the sausage is browning, chop the spinach in a food processor and then combine well with the pesto.

Butter or Misto spray a 9-by-13 baking dish.  Place the bread in the dish.  Sprinkle with the cheese.  Dot with the pesto mixture.  Sprinkle the sausage evenly.

In a very large bowl wisk the eggs, then wisk in the milk, dry mustard, salt, onion powder, and pepper.  Gently pour the egg mixture over the other ingredients.

Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning remove the strata from the fridge.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Remove the plastic wrap from the strata and allow it to come to room temperature while the oven preheats.

Sprinkle with the grated Parmesan cheese.

Bake uncovered 40-45 minutes or until strata is puffy and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  Sprinkle with additional grated Parmesan if desired for serving.

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