When people ask me if I could do anything instead of my job, what it would be, one of my stock answers is: “Hang out with friends in a big vacation house and make brunch and sit around and drink coffee all day.”
The salary on this fantasy is a bit lower than my current gig, so I reserve such activity for special occasions…
…Such as LS’s Bachelorette weekend! The original story they tried to tell me was that “Becky wouldn’t have to work” – but I really enjoy nothing more than cooking for friends (especially when they are in the room while I’m doing the cooking so we can chat), so I sweet-talked my way in. I mean, if I showed up at your door with this, you probably wouldn’t turn me away.
LS’s weekend had a few overlapping friends from MMH’s (now MHH) bachelorette weekend 3 years ago, and if you recall from that gathering, the Quinoa and Egg Breakfast Casserole was a total hit! I wanted to make another quinoa casserole, so I got to thinking about what flavors would go well together (and be unique from what I had served previously), that would work at brunch time.
I landed on an Italian complement: Quinoa, Sundried Tomato & Basil Chicken Sausage (a current fave from Trader Joe’s – see it in action here, here, and here!), baby spinach, sundried tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, basil, oregano, garlic powder, and of course eggs and milk.
Why two different color eggs? I buy Omega-3 added eggs for when I am going to use the yolk, and cheap-o eggs for when I just need the whites. To help me remember which is which, especially if they get shifted in their cartons, I make sure the Omegas are brown and the eggs for whites are … white.
I was this close to adding pesto or a cool pesto gouda I picked up at Trader Joe’s, but I thought the taste might be too aggressive for breakfast. I am thinking of reducing the eggs, swapping out the sausage for chicken, and adding the pesto gouda for a dinner casserole. Yum.
I made a second batch right when I got home from the bachelorette weekend because I thought it would be a great option for fast weekday breakfasts. I divided it into individual containers and it lasted the week in the fridge – I grabbed a few on my way out the door to work, and had others after work when I needed something quickly. I haven’t yet attempted freezing this casserole, but let me know if it works for you!
This casserole is delicious straight from the oven – there are few food sights that rival a freshly-baked casserole coming out of the oven, browned and slightly risen, ready for a spatula to dig in – but it’s also delicious for days after baking. You can heat it to your liking; I actually like it at room temperature like a quiche, so 20-30 seconds in the microwave for one slice works well.
To give you an idea of consistency, cold and at room temp, it is solid enough to handle.
You can halve the recipe if you are looking for a smaller yield, and/or you can bake it directly into smaller vessels, like glass containers you normally use for leftovers, if yours are oven safe (which most newer models are).
- .5 c sundried tomatoes (oil-packed or dried, see below)
- 1.5 c cooked quinoa
- .75 lb sweet italian chicken sausage, raw
- 5 oz baby spinach
- 6 eggs
- 2 egg whites
- .25 c skim milk
- 6 oz shredded cheese (mozzarella, or an Italian mix)
- 8 basil leaves
- 1-2 t dried oregano
- 1-2 t garlic powder
- kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
- Prep the first four ingredients so they are ready to go.
- If using oil-packed sundried tomatoes, drain the oil and pat them dry; chop them into smaller bites. If using dried/dehydrated sundried tomatoes, rehydrate them by placing them in a bowl and pouring boiling water over the top, covering the tomatoes. Let them sit for at least 30 minutes while they plump back up. Let them hang out as long as possible, but drain the water out before adding the tomatoes to the dish.
- I used cooked quinoa for this recipe; follow the instructions on the package to make your batch.
- *If you are following the steps in order, this is a good time to heat the oven to 425.*
- Remove the sausage from its casing, and cook and crumble over high heat in a skillet or saute pan. Remove from the pan when cooked through.
- Spray the pan with cooking spray and cook the spinach over high heat until it wilts and browns a bit. This will ensure the water is cooked out before you put it in your casserole.
- In a large bowl, crack the eggs and egg whites. Add the milk. Use a whisk to break up the eggs and incorporate with the milk.
- Using a wooden spoon or silicone stirrer (just don't use the whisk because everything will get stuck in it), stir in all of the ingredients. Make sure the egg and cheese are distributed evenly.
- Spray the bottom and sides of a casserole dish with cooking spray, and pour in the mixture.
- Bake at 425 until the casserole gets puffy and browns, roughly 30 minutes, but check it at 25 to be sure. Press down on the top with a spoon. If liquid eggs sneak out, put it back in for a few more minutes. When it's ready, the egg should be baked through.