Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Spinach Cheese Bake for Brunch
Going out for breakfast or brunch is truly one of life’s delights. Since I can’t resist the combination of spinach, cheese and eggs I will, without fail, order a Greek omelet if it’s on the menu. I know I should branch out, but I do only if I’m in the mood for a sweet breakfast like pancakes. First I make the sweet vs. savory decision, then focus on what to order. ( A quick aside – last weekend I discovered a different variation of spinach, cheese and eggs at Tabaq Bistro in Washington, DC ... poached eggs with spinach, tomatoes, cream and a crispy layer of Parmesan. Dee-lish!)
I love to host brunch at home, too, and since we are in the midst of the holiday season this is the perfect time to think about gathering friends or family together for one. A favorite brunch dish for me to make is this Spinach Cheese Bake. It is savory and satisfying, with crispy corners (my favorite part!) and a flavorful mix of herbs and cheese. I’ve been making and tweaking this casserole for a number of years. It’s popular with adults and kids alike - my boys always pounce it.
You can tailor this to your taste - be creative with the cheeses and herbs you choose or add additional flavors such as roasted chilis, sautéed mushrooms or caramelized onions (in this version I include butternut squash for the season). Served with some yogurt and granola or with freshly baked muffins (always lovely to get both the sweet and savory), you have an easy brunch to enjoy. This casserole can also be prepared the night before and popped in the oven to bake in the morning, leaving you time to sip coffee with your guests and relax.
Spinach Cheese Bake
20 ounces fresh or frozen spinach
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups cottage cheese
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled (or same amount of another cheese)
1 cup Gruyere cheese, grated (or same amount of another cheese)
7 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup green onions, thinly sliced (I’ve also used fresh dill and parsley)
1 teaspoon crushed red chili peppers or Aleppo pepper (optional)
10 ounces butternut squash, cut into 1/2 inch dice (optional)
If using fresh spinach, steam until wilted, drain well and chop coarsely. If using frozen spinach, defrost and squeeze well. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9x13 inch baking dish.
In a large bowl, stir together the eggs, cheeses, flour, garlic, salt, green onions and chili peppers. Gently mix in the spinach and butternut squash.
Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and bake for 40-45 minutes, until the casserole is set, golden brown on top and the edges are crispy. Serve warm.
You can prep this the night before (but don't bake) and refrigerate it overnight. In the morning, bake and serve as directed.