Looking for ideas for a special brunch? Why not a warm and welcoming breakfast casserole? Assemble everything the night before and then just pop it in the oven first thing in the morning.
Breakfast casseroles are really quite easy to make. Bread, eggs, milk, and cheese are your base. Where you can get creative is with the seasonings and additions.
In this one, we are celebrating spring with asparagus and leeks. Feta is our cheese of choice, along with some Parmesan for the topping. Bacon makes an important appearance as well. (You can skip the bacon if you must, but I don't recommend it.)
We're seasoning with Herbes de Provence, which is like the French equivalent of Italian seasoning. Great with eggs. You can use dried thyme or tarragon if you don't have it.
By the way, this breakfast casserole? It's exceptional. Thumbs up from all present. Enjoy!
Breakfast Casserole with Leeks and Asparagus
Pro tip: raw bacon is much easier to slice if it is frozen. So keep your bacon chilled until you are ready to cut it, or put it in the freezer for several minutes before slicing.
- 3 slices thick-sliced bacon (about 3 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 pound of asparagus, trimmed of woody ends, cut into 1/2-inch diagonal pieces
- 6 slices of bread, cut into 1 1/2 inch wide square pieces, including crusts
- 2 leeks, cleaned, cut in half lengthwise, sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces, white and light green parts only, about 2 cups total
- 2 Tbsp butter, divided 1 Tbsp and 1 Tbsp
- 1/2 cup of crumbled feta cheese
- 8 eggs
- 2 cups milk
- 1/2 teaspoon of dried herbes de provence (can sub dried tarragon or thyme)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Place bacon in a medium skillet on medium heat. Gently cook, turning occasionally, until the bacon pieces are lightly browned and much of the bacon fat has been rendered, about 10-12 minutes. Remove cooked bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon, leaving the rendered bacon fat in the pan.
While the bacon is cooking, cut up the bread. If the bread is a little stale, great. If it is fresh, then spread it out on a baking sheet and heat it in a 200°F oven for about 10-15 minutes to help it dry out a bit. This will help the keep the bread from disintegrating when mixed with the eggs later.
Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the cut asparagus and blanch for 1 minute. Remove the asparagus from the pot to a bowl of ice water. Let cool in the ice water and then drain.
Once the bacon is done and removed from the pan add a tablespoon of butter to the pan with the remaining bacon fat. Add the leeks and gently cook on medium to medium low heat for 10-12 minutes until the leeks are softened, but not browned. Do not let brown.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, crumbled feta cheese, herbes de provence, salt, and pepper.
Place the bread pieces into the egg milk mixture and press down so that the bread becomes completely saturated with the mixture. Add the asparagus and leeks and gently mix to combine, taking care to not break up the bread.
Preheat oven to 350°F. With the remaining tablespoon of butter, butter the insides of a 9x13-inch casserole dish. Sprinkle the bacon over the bottom of the dish. Gently pour the filling mixture into the casserole. Top with Parmesan cheese. Push the grated Parmesan down a bit into to the top of the casserole so that it gets moistened. (At this point you can make the night before, refrigerate and bake the next morning.)
Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and the custard is cooked through. If the top is getting too brown before the custard is done, you can tent it with foil. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before cutting to serve.