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
Serves 8-10

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.

12 comments:

  1. Sounds yummy will need to try it!

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  2. This looks right up my alley! I'm the same way with breakfast - first decide savory or sweet, it's usually savory, and a spinach option will seriously tug at me. Can't wait to try this!

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  3. Fabulous idea! I love being able to do as much as possible in advance when it comes to breakfast--I wake up hungry! We're definitely fans of spinach around here. Yum!

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  4. I love how this looks, and love your addition of squash! I have a bunch of swiss chard I need to use and it would be perfect in this, I'm thinking! I enjoy hosting brunches too!

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  5. Ooohhh I love the idea of herbs in a dish like this. Why didn't I ever think of that?! And the squash is a brilliant touch, too. I've got butternut squash sitting cooked in my fridge right now! Do you think kale would be weird in this instead of spinach?

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  6. @Dersh
    Hey there! I hope you enjoy it. Shabbat shalom!

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  7. @Katherine Martinelli
    Thank you, Katherine! I usually go towards the savory, too (my little nephew kindly shared a couple bites of his Belgian waffle with me when we went for brunch, so that rounded out the sweet for me). Have a great weekend!

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  8. @Lauren
    Thank you, Lauren! More and more, I appreciate whatever can be prepped ahead. Enjoy your weekend!

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  9. @thewimpyvegetarian.com
    Thanks, Susan! Yes, I think Swiss chard would be terrific. I hope you enjoy it! Aren't brunches the best? Such a relaxing time of day, too.

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  10. @Brooke
    Hi Brooke! I think kale would be marvelous (you'll just have to steam it a little longer to soften is all). Really, any leafy green could work here. And perfect timing with your cooked squash! Have a lovely weekend!

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  11. This looks delicious Hannah, spinach & cheese one of my favourite combinations. Perfect for brunch or lunch :)

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Mairi! What is it about spinach and feta that's so appealing/addictive? :)

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