I feel like brunch is one of those meals that is supposed to be relaxed. It’s a Sunday morning, or even Christmas morning, and it’s cold and quiet and snowy outside, and I'm with my favorite people. In my mind’s eye, I see myself floating around effortlessly, sipping on a cup of coffee, chatting with my friends or family, and serving up a casual but delicious meal. But in my actual eye, I see myself juggling the timing of each dish, handling hot pans dripping with grease and making a mess everywhere I go, and trying to tackle the salty-sweet dilemma that everyone faces at breakfast time.
This dish is the answer to this real struggle—it’s the perfect meal to serve comfortably, unrushed, and still with that hint of decadence that brunch always begs for—i.e. it can rise to the Bloody Mary and mimosa occasion.
Oh and it also makes the best leftovers for lunch and dinner!
I've made this dish on several different occasions, and it continues to be a go-to for a few reasons.
It’s make-ahead, without sacrificing anything (I actually think it gets better as it sits in the fridge), and it's low maintenance while cooking.
It’s decadent enough to impress a brunch crowd and doesn’t require sides—just maybe a bright salad or some crispy herbed potatoes if you insist!
It’s beautiful looking! Especially with the sautéed tomatoes on top.
Sausage and spinach egg strata
Adapted from Rachael Ray
Yields 8-10 servings
1 T olive oil
1 T butter
1 sweet onion, sliced into half moons
Pinch of salt and freshly cracked pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
12 oz hot Italian sausage
8-10 oz frozen spinach, defrosted and drained well
Pinch of ground nutmeg
7-8 cups cubed Italian bread
2 cups half 'n half
¼ cup Dijon mustard
2 tsp salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
Sautéed tomatoes for serving (recipe below)
Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnishing
The day or night before you want to serve the strata, begin assembling it. Heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Cook the onions, and a pinch of salt and freshly cracked pepper, until soft and golden in parts, about 15 minutes or so. For the last 2-3 minutes of cooking, throw in the garlic. Remove onion and garlic mixture from pan and set aside in a bowl. Return the skillet to the heat, and add a tsp of olive oil. Add spinach and stir in a pinch of nutmeg and freshly cracked black pepper, and cook for about 3-5 minutes, until spinach is warm and nutmeg is incorporated. Remove spinach from pan and set aside in a bowl. Up the heat a tiny bit to medium, and then add sausage to the pan to brown it and crumble it. Remove the sausage and set aside on a plate.
Arrange half of the bread in a 9x13 casserole dish.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs with the half ‘n half, Dijon, 2 tsp salt and lots of freshly cracked pepper.
Scatter half of the onions, sausage, and spinach over the bread, top with half the cheddar and half the parmesan cheese, pour over half the egg mixture; then repeat with another layer. Cover and store in the fridge overnight.
Bring the strata to room temperature for about 30 minutes before you bake. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the center of the oven.
Set the casserole on a baking sheet and bake uncovered for 50-55 minutes, until just set. Let it stand for 10 minutes before cutting and serving with a spoonful of sauteed tomatoes and a sprinkling of parsley.
In the last few minutes of cooking, you can begin cooking the tomatoes (or you can make them ahead of time, as well, and just reheat in the microwave before serving).
sautéed cherry tomatoes
2 T olive oil
Pint cherry (or grape) tomatoes
¼ tsp salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium to medium-low heat. Add tomatoes, salt, and pepper, and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until tomatoes are soft and blistered.