Tomato, Roasted Pepper and Basil Strata (with Leftover Hamburger Buns) Recipe

tomato, roasted pepper and basil strata recipe | pamela salzman

I hope you had a fantastic 4th of July weekend!  There’s a good chance if you hosted a party, that you have some leftover hamburger or hot dog buns lying around.  What were you planning on doing with them?  Bread crumbs?  Great idea.  Croutons?  Another great idea.  Putting them in the freezer for the next time you make burgers or dogs?  Good luck with that one.  My freezer is basically one-third buns.  They’re all freezer-burned too, because I was lazy and threw the bags in there and didn’t bother to wrap the buns tightly in foil first.  And my kids reject previously frozen buns.  They would rather eat a hot bog or a burger without a bun over one that has been previously frozen.  It’s kind of annoying since we’re a family of 5 and you can’t buy a bag of 5 buns.  And I cannot handle wasting food, even a silly hamburger bun.

sauteer red onion and garlic

So I came up with this strata using leftover hamburger buns that had been sitting in my freezer and that I absolutely knew would end up in the compost bin.  Stratas are kind of like savory bread puddings, more bread-y than an egg-y quiche or frittata .  I actually prefer a frittata, but my husband and kids love their bread!   I posted a strata on my site a few years ago with spinach, tomatoes and feta.  Super delicious and I love that you can put it together the night before to soak in the fridge and then you bake it in the morning easy peasy.

tomato, roasted pepper and basil strata | pamela salzman

I essentially took what I had — a large tomato, half a red onion, a handful of baby mozzarella balls and a jar of roasted peppers in the fridge, plus some basil from my patio, and combined them with eggs and milk and voila!  No one had any idea that I used leftover, previously frozen buns.  And no one had any idea they were all different, including a whole grain sprouted bun!  Of course, gluten-free buns work equally well.  A strata is so versatile that if you had some leftover roasted zucchini, you could throw it in there too.  Or a link of leftover sausage or a handful of corn kernels.  And if you wanted a higher proportion of eggs, go for it.  Just bake until the strata feels “set.”  So no liquid gushes out when you push on the center of the strata and it kind of bounces back a bit.

tomato, roasted pepper and basil strata | pamela salzman

tomato, roasted pepper and basil strata | pamela salzman

What’s also cool about this is that you can make it for breakfast, lunch or (Meatless Monday) dinner.  I served it in these photos with some lightly dressed arugula and I think that’s the best accompaniment or just a simple green salad.  But any non-starchy vegetable, like green beans or summer squash, would be great, too.  Because bread is the main ingredient, I wouldn’t serve another starch with a strata.  But I would serve it with a cold glass of rosé.  Happy summer!

tomato, roasted pepper and basil strata | pamela salzman

tomato, roasted pepper and basil strata | pamela salzman

tomato, roasted pepper and basil strata | pamela salzman

5.0 from 4 reviews
Tomato, Roasted Pepper and Basil Strata
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 Tablespoon unrefined, cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing skillet
  • ½ large red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • a pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk or unsweetened, plain hemp milk or milk of choice
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt (or 1 teaspoon if your mozzarella is unsalted)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 6 ounces bocconcini (baby fresh mozzarella cheese), drained if in water
  • 1 large tomato, seeded (if desired) and diced
  • 1 roasted red or yellow bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
  • a handful of basil leaves, julienned
  • 5-6 ounces of whole wheat, spelt or sourdough bread, cut into 1-inch cubes, about 8 cups, preferably a little stale
  • For the Salad:
  • 6 ounces baby arugula
  • good aged balsamic vinegar
  • unrefined, cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
Instructions
  1. Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until tender, about 3-4 minutes, add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté until fragrant, about 30-60 seconds, then remove from heat and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the milk, sea salt and pepper. Stir in the bocconcini, tomato, roasted red pepper, basil, bread and onion-garlic mixture, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. You don’t have to soak overnight, but I love the way the bread soaks up the mixture. Feel free to put it straight in the oven.
  3. If you soaked it overnight, remove the strata from the refrigerator and preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 10-inch skillet (or a 9-inch pie plate or equivalent) with olive oil and pour the strata mixture into the skillet.
  4. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until egg mixture is set and top is golden brown.
  5. Remove strata from oven and allow to cool slightly.
  6. While the strata is cooling, toss the arugula with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and olive oil (just enough to coat) and sprinkle with salt.
  7. Top the strata with the arugula salad and serve, or cut the strata into serving size pieces and top each piece with arugula salad.
Notes
Unbaked strata can be frozen if wrapped tightly. Thaw in the refrigerator before baking, uncovered.

MINI-STRATAS: grease 4 individual ramekins or muffin tins. First layer bread then vegetables and cheese. Last, pour egg, milk, salt and pepper on top. Refrigerate overnight, if desired. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

 

Dutch baby pancake recipe

whole grain Dutch baby pancake | pamela salzman

When I think back to my childhood, I don’t think “deprivation” or “missing out.”  But the fact that I didn’t know about and had never had a Dutch Baby until I was an adult makes me a little sad, like my family was out of the loop.  So many people recall fond memories of leisurely Sunday family breakfasts with Mom pulling a puff of sweet heaven out of the oven.  Wow.  My mom did not get that memo.  My husband came home when we were first married with a small pizza box from a restaurant called Dinah’s by Los Angeles International Airport.  Inside was a very buttery, cinnamon and sugar-covered disc of sliced apples held together with a minimum of batter.  “It’s a German apple pancake.  Have you never had one of these before?”  Wow.  No, I had not.  A Dutch Baby pancake, similar to the German apple pancake, is a puffed, kind of ugly pancake that is more egg-y than flour-y.  It’s not quite like a pancake that you make on the stove in that it’s a little denser, but very delicious it its own way and so much easier because you make the batter in a blender and then bake the whole thing in the oven.

ingredients

The best part of a Dutch Baby oven pancake is when you first pull it out of the oven.   It goes in as a thin batter in a skillet, and comes out as an irregularly puffed, golden, warm pancake with a sweet aroma of vanilla.  The. Best.

batter in the blender

The Dutch Baby pancake recipes I have seen involve the regular suspects: white flour, white sugar, milk, eggs and butter.  Those suspects are easily changed to whole grain or even gluten-free flour, maple syrup, almond milk, but I still keep the eggs and butter.  You can change the butter to Earth Balance if you need to.  But I’m not quite sure how to make a Dutch Baby without eggs.  Plus that’s where the protein comes into play if you are wanting to serve this for breakfast on its own.

melt the butter in the pan in the oven

brush a little butter up the sides

What you put on a Dutch Baby can vary from lemon juice and butter (very popular actually,) to fresh or cooked fruit to powdered sugar or maple syrup.  We keep it simple in our house with seasonal fruit, like sautéed apples and pears in the fall/winter and berries in the summer.  It is incredibly good with fresh blueberry sauce.  Recipe here and you can make it with frozen blueberries!

pour batter into the hot pan

I always take two weeks off around Christmas and New Years to spend with my family.  Maybe you have a little time off too, or perhaps you are having friends for brunch on New Years Day.  These are the days that I like to make breakfasts that are a little more special, that we can sit a savor for a bit longer.  Hoping you can find some time to do just that this week.  And if you do, this Dutch baby recipe is the perfect one to try.

whole grain Dutch baby pancake | pamela salzman

Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy, peaceful and joyous 2015!

whole grain Dutch baby pancake | pamela salzman

whole grain Dutch baby pancake | pamela salzman

whole grain Dutch baby pancake | pamela salzman

5.0 from 3 reviews
Dutch Baby Pancake
Author: 
Serves: 4 (but I swear I could eat the entire thing myself)
 
Ingredients
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup whole milk or almond milk, at room temperature
  • ⅔ cup whole grain flour, such as spelt or whole wheat pastry or ¾ cup all-purpose flour or your favorite GF flour blend
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup or sweetener of choice
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Accompaniments: fresh fruit, preserves, butter, powdered sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the butter in a 9-inch skillet or pie plate and transfer the skillet to the oven until the butter is melted. Brush the sides of the skillet with the melted butter.
  2. Add eggs, milk, flour, salt, syrup and vanilla to a blender and process for 1 minute.
  3. Pour batter into the skillet with the melted butter and bake until puffed and set, about 20 minutes.
  4. Serve immediately with desired accompaniments.
Notes
Room temperature ingredients, as well as whole milk and all-purpose flour make the pancake rise the best.  But it will still turn out well with whole spelt flour and almond milk.

 

Baked Cinnamon Cake Doughnuts Recipe (gluten-free adaptable!)

baked cinnamon cake doughnuts | pamela salzman

I love teaching people how to cook and I love working with food, but one business I don’t see myself in is the restaurant business.  That just seems like waaaaaay too much work!  But if I did open a restaurant, I would have a little casual breakfast and lunch place called “He Said, She Said.”  The menu would be split down the middle with dude food on one side and lady food on the other.

You need a doughnut pan!

I’ve seen plenty of women eat just as much as a man and I am one of them.  BUT it’s the food choices that men and women make that I find so interesting, and different.  My husband and I are the perfect example.  We have been married for almost 19 years and I don’t think we’ve ever ordered the same thing in a restaurant.  And I can usually predict what he will get!

put the batter in a ziploc bag and snip the corner

squeeze the batter out of the cut ziploc bag

I tend to graviate towards salads, vegetable-based dishes, lentils, beans, and ethnic foods and away from things that are fried, greasy and heavily sauced.  He, on the other hand, will order anything with melted cheese and/or lots of tomato sauce plus a side of fries or onion rings.  My husband is a meat-guy too, and doesn’t think about how he’s going to get his veggies at every meal.

they're done if they spring back when you spree on them

Since I do all the cooking in our house, I tend to make what I like.  However, when it’s my husband’s birthday or Father’s Day, I will think about his favorites and go that direction.  Father’s Day is coming up, on Sunday, June 15th to be exact.  And even though I would prefer a veggie frittata or a yogurt and homemade granola parfait, I know my husband would be THRILLED if I bought him doughnuts.  But since doughnuts are probably one of the worst possible foods you can eat, there is no way in the world that I would ever give them to someone with whom I would like to grow old.  I hate to be a party pooper, but doughnuts are completely non-nutritive, full of empty calories, high in simple carbohydrates which spike your blood sugar and are deep fried in the most damaged pro-inflammatory fat EVER.  So not good.

they are more golden on the part that's in the pan

I will, however, make baked doughnuts with some higher quality (but I didn’t say healthful) ingredients.  They still taste delicious and won’t put anyone in a sugar coma afterwards!  Yippee!  I am giving you plenty of time to order this doughnut pan because unfortunately you can’t make doughnuts without a doughnut pan.  I like this one the best because it is coated with silicone for a nonstick finish that doesn’t leach like toxic PFTE’s and PFOA’s.  You can also scoop the batter with an mini ice cream scoop into mini muffin pans for doughnut holes.

dipping in cinnamon-sugar

I recommend making these the day you want to eat them and I am partial to serving these alongside a hearty, high fiber and high protein breakfast and not alone because even though they are significantly better for you than traditional doughnuts, they’re not health food!  I kept these pretty simple with a cinnamon-sugar topping, but if you really wanted to throw in the towel, you could go for a glaze instead.  Fun!

baked cinnamon cake doughnuts | pamela salzman

 

5.0 from 1 reviews
Baked Cinnamon Cake Doughnuts
Author: 
Serves: makes 6 doughnuts or 20 doughnut "holes"
 
Ingredients
  • ⅓ cup whole milk or milk substitute, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
  • ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour or whole spelt flour*
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour or white spelt flour
  • 1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg (do not omit – this is the secret ingredient of all cake doughnuts!)
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted + extra butter for greasing the pan
  • ¼ cup cane sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Topping:
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 Tablespoons cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or less cinnamon for a more “authentic” ratio)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease the wells of the doughnut pan with some butter.
  2. In a glass measuring cup, mix together milk and vinegar and allow to sit at room temperature for at least 5 minutes to curdle.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together flours, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together melted butter, sugar, honey, egg, vanilla and curdled milk.
  5. Whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients, taking care not to overmix.
  6. Spoon batter evenly into wells of the doughnut pan, filling only ⅔ full.* If filled too high, there won’t be any doughnut holes. Another way to fill the wells is by transferring the batter to a quart-size Ziploc bag and snipping one corner ½inch and piping the batter into the wells. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until doughnuts spring back when pressed lightly. Allow to cool 5 minutes before turning doughnuts onto a cooling rack.
  7. While the doughnuts are still warm, combine the 2 Tablespoons cane sugar with the teaspoon of cinnamon in a shallow bowl. Brush the tops (or bottoms) of the doughnuts with melted butter and dip into the cinnamon–sugar mixture so that it sticks. Repeat with remaining doughnuts.
Notes
*Or substitute a total of 1 cup King Arthur Multi-purpose Gluten-free Flour and ½ teaspoon xanthan gum for the white and wheat flours

**Or bake in a greased mini-muffin pan for doughnut holes.

 

 

 

Savory Muffins with Spinach, Roasted Peppers and Feta Recipe

Savory muffins with spinach, feta and roasted peppers

If you read my last post, you know that we haven’t gone out for Mother’s Day in several years and this Sunday will be no different.  Truth be told, I couldn’t be happier for several already mentioned reasons.  I am, however, definitely not cooking on Sunday, but instead leaving that to the men for this one and only day.  But if I were cooking, I would make these fabulous savory muffins and serve them with a very veggie frittata.  Can you tell I am pushing a low-glycemic agenda this week?

dry mix

Have you ever had too much sugar and carbs at brunch that the entire rest of the day you just felt “off?”  Done it, hate it.  I always have a hard time bouncing back after starting the day with chocolate chip French toast, a blueberry crumb muffin, fruit salad and a mimosa.  No, friends, that is not a balanced meal.  Instead, I make a concerted effort to balance out the token coffee cake with plenty of protein and hearty, savory fare.

wet ingredients

If my husband brings in bagels, I make sure there’s wild smoked salmon and sliced cucumbers and tomatoes.  Yogurt gets placed next to the homemade granola and there’s always a savory egg dish of some sort.  Even if I’m serving a crowd, I’ll double frittata recipes and bake them in large rimmed sheet pans.  Yes, you can do that!

spinach, feta and roasted peppers

savory muffins with spinach, feta and roasted peppers

Muffins and quick breads are very popular for brunch, and I have several recipes on this site, but I think these with spinach and roasted peppers are so delicious and a fresh change of pace from the ones you would normally expect.  They’re also fairly easy to put together.  In fact, you can combine your dry ingredients the day before and have your spinach, feta and peppers prepped and ready to go, so that all you really need to do is stir everything together and bake the morning of Mother’s Day.  Like most muffins, these are much better fresh out of the oven, but if you have leftovers, just store them in the fridge and warm them in the oven for a few minutes.  These are also the perfect match with any egg dish, whether simply scrambled or baked in a fritatta.  My most favorite frittata is this one with Swiss chard, but the one I just posted the other day with asparagus and artichokes is a close second.  Certainly, these muffins aren’t just for brunch, but make a great little extra something with a bowl of soup or in the next day’s lunchbox.

savory muffins with spinach, feta and roasted peppers

In the same way I love looking at what’s in people’s grocery carts (is that creepy?), I love hearing about your menus for holidays and special occasions.  Do share with me what you’re planning or what you would love someone to make for you!!  Happy Mother’s Day to all you beautiful mamas!

Savory Muffins with Spinach, Feta and Roasted Peppers

Savory Muffins with Spinach, Roasted Peppers and Feta
Author: 
Serves: makes 12 standard muffins
 
Ingredients
  • 2 ¾ cups whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour (or a combo)*
  • 2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • ¾ cup whole milk or unsweetened plain, hemp milk
  • ½ cup unrefined olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup thinly sliced spinach leaves
  • ¾ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • ½ cup chopped roasted red peppers or drained mild Peppadew peppers
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 12 standard muffin cups with unbleached parchment paper liners (or cut parchment paper squares to fit.)
  2. Whisk flour, baking powder, paprika, salt and cayenne in a medium bowl.
  3. Whisk milk, oil, maple syrup and eggs in a large bowl and combine well.
  4. Add dry mixture to wet and stir until just combined. Fold in spinach, feta and peppers.
  5. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. I use a large ice cream scoop to do this.
  6. Bake muffins until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire cooling rack or eat warm. Best eaten the same day that they’re made.
Notes
*To make these gluten-free, substitute wheat flour with 2 ¾ cups King Arthur Multi-purpose Gluten-free Flour + 1 ½ teaspoons xanthan gum.

Baked Berry Oatmeal Recipe

Baked Berry Oatmeal | Pamela Salzman

Baked Berry Oatmeal | Pamela Salzman

My favorite thing about the weekends and vacations is lingering over breakfast.  Weekdays are (sadly) so rushed that we don’t really have more than 10 minutes to sit down and enjoy our morning meal.  Not only are we lacking time to relax and  enjoy, but the five of us never eat breakfast together during the week since we’re all on different schedules.  Of course, I’m guilty of the worst offense of all which is eating in my car on the way to work.  I keep thinking getting up earlier is the answer, but somehow that hasn’t been the solution.  It’s a dreadful habit and I am completely embarrassed that I don’t walk that talk, but I would rather eat my porridge slowly in my car than inhale it in 30 seconds at the kitchen table.

grease your pan and scatter the blueberries on the bottom

The weekends are a whole different story.  I love making breakfast foods that take a little more time.  Just the smells of something wonderful from the oven make me giddy with anticipation while I sip my tea out of a real mug, not portable one, and the newspaper spread out everywhere.  Typical weekend creations are baked frittatas with lots of veggies, whole grain waffles (who has time to wash a waffle iron on a Tuesday morning?), and this amazing, versatile Baked Oatmeal recipe.  I make steel cut oats once or twice per week, but the weekend demands something a little more special.  I originally spotted this recipe by Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks fame in Whole Living Magazine a few years ago and instantly knew this would become a regular for us.  I have made this recipe with mixed berries and with thinly sliced apples on the bottom — both delicious — and on my to-do list is to come up with versions using coconut and pumpkin puree and spices.  Mr. Picky likes this enough that I think I could sell this as an after school snack if I tossed in a few chocolate chips.  Heidi’s originally called for sliced bananas on the bottom, which were great if you love a super sweet intense banana flavor.

dry mix goes on top next

pour the wet mix on top

Oats are super hearty and filling and make a great start to the day.  If oatmeal tends to raise your blood sugar too much, make sure you pair it with some protein and fat like nuts.  Walnuts are in this recipe, but I’ve used sliced almonds and pecans too.  Of course, if you’re nut-free, feel free to omit them altogether and enjoy this recipe all the same.  Baked Oatmeal can be easily adapted for dairy-free people by using an alternative milk and coconut oil or Earth Balance; and for vegans by dropping the egg.  It doesn’t slice as nicely without the egg, but it’s no big deal.

top with berries and nuts

My family seems to eat this straight as is, but I love pouring on some extra almond milk or (when I wasn’t dairy-free) dolloping a little yogurt on top.  I have access to fresh blueberries grown in a hothouse all year so I decided to splurge and use them here, but if you are only working with citrus and bananas at this time of year, you can always use frozen fruit.  Although, I just saw the first fresh strawberries at the farmer’s market last weekend which means good fruit is on the horizon and more delicious Baked Oatmeal possibilities await you.

Baked Berry Oatmeal | Pamela Salzman

 

 

5.0 from 2 reviews
Baked Berry Oatmeal
Author: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (look for gluten-free oats to make this a gluten-free recipe) - Do NOT use steel cut oats
  • ½ cup walnuts, almonds or pecans, chopped, divided
  • ⅓ cup 100% pure maple syrup (or ¼ c. for a more subtle sweetness)
  • 2 cups whole milk or plant milk like unsweetened hemp milk, almond milk or flax milk
  • 1 large egg or flax egg or ¼ cup applesauce
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons unsalted butter, unrefined coconut oil or organic Earth Balance, melted and cooled slightly, plus more for greasing baking dish
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups fresh or frozen berries, divided
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square or 9-inch round baking dish.
  2. Combine the baking powder, cinnamon and sea salt in a large bowl. Stir in the oats and ¼ cup nuts.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together maple syrup, milk, egg, melted butter, and pure vanilla. (You can also combine these ingredients in a blender.)
  4. Scatter 1 cup of the berries on the bottom of the baking dish and then cover with the oat mixture. Pour wet mixture into the pan over the oats and spread evenly. Sprinkle the rest of the nuts and berries across the top. You can make this up until this point the night before and refrigerate, covered.
  5. Bake for 35 minutes or until the oat mixture is set and wet ingredients are absorbed.
Notes
So many people have made this recipe many times, so I don't want to abruptly change it BUT I mix everything together in the same bowl and pour it into the prepared baking dish. You can also assemble this the night before, cover and refrigerate it, and bake it uncovered in the morning. Leftovers are great cold, room temp or reheated.

 

 

Sweet potato casserole recipe

baked sweet potato casserole | pamela salzman

There are a few recipes I make on Thanksgiving that I call “one-hit wonders.”  That is to say I don’t make them on any of the other 364 days in the year.   I’m no fan of stuffing, for example, so I keep the masses happy by making it on the holiday and then we forget about it until next year.  My Maple-Glazed Sweet Potato Gratin was in the same category for no other reason than it just seemed a little decadent to serve on a day that isn’t considered the biggest meal of the year.

about to roast

roasted and peeled sweet potatoes

baked, covered for 40 minutes

Just for fun, I recently tried a new sweet potato recipe which my kids absolutely flipped for.  Not only has this Sweet Potato Casserole bumped the former gratin out of the coveted spot, but my kids have begged me to make it multiple times since then.  My girls have even eaten it for breakfast and as an after-school snack.  I am crazy for sweet potatoes any which way and I am perfectly content with a nice big juicy one plain and simple.  So when recipes start adding cups of brown sugar with marshmallows or oatmeal cookie dough on top, I can’t take them seriously.  We’re going to try and keep things classy over here, ok?

simple, no-sugar, organic corn flakes

topping

bake covered for 40 minutes, then add the topping

But there was something intriguing about this recipe from Food & Wine that I had to try.   Despite the pureed sweet potato base mixed with eggs, milk, butter and an obscene amount of sugar, I saw potential.  The topping is what really had me since I just love a contrast in textures.  I could already taste the silky puree with the light and crispy cinnamon-nutmeg flakes and nuts.  Even after I cleaned up this recipe by cutting the sugar by almost two-thirds, the casserole was still absolutely divine and a perfect complement to your Thanksgiving buffet.  It’s also super easy to  make if you have a food processor and can be done in advance (Thanksgiving magic words!)  By the way, I have also made this recipe dairy-free with success by using coconut oil instead of butter and unsweetened hemp milk instead of regular.  Since it’s already gluten-free, everyone’s happy!

bite of casserole out of the oven

What?  Did you just call me “trashy” behind my back for using cereal in a Thanksgiving recipe?  Guilty.  Maybe I deserve it.  You know what I say?  Worth it!

Ah, Thanksgiving!

5.0 from 2 reviews
Sweet Potato Casserole
Author: 
Serves: 8-10 (on a normal day, but probably serves more like 14 on Thanksgiving if you have a lot of other side dishes)
 
Ingredients
  • 5 ½ pounds sweet potatoes, such as garnet or jewel, scrubbed (these are often labeled "yams" at the market)
  • 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter or ¾ cup unrefined coconut oil, melted, divided
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt + a pinch
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground nutmeg, divided
  • 1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup whole milk or plain, unsweetened hemp milk
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup pecan halves or pieces, about 4 ounces
  • 1 cup cornflakes, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup maple sugar or brown sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the sweet potatoes on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in the oven until tender, about an hour, but could be more depending on size. Or you can also boil peeled, cubed sweet potatoes in water for 15 minutes or until tender and drain, but I think roasting the sweet potatoes makes then sweeter.
  2. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Butter a 13 x 9 inch baking dish.
  3. When the sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel and discard the skin and place potatoes in a food processor. Puree until smooth. Do this in batches if necessary.
  4. Transfer the puree to a large bowl. Add half the butter (6 Tbs.), salt, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, maple syrup, and milk. Stir to combine and then stir in the eggs. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and smooth the top with a spatula. Recipe can be made up to this point one day in advance and kept covered in the refrigerator. Cover with foil and bake 40 minutes.
  5. Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes, until lightly toasted. Transfer the pecans to a cutting board and coarsely chop. In a bowl, toss the pecans with the cornflakes, cinnamon and remaining 6 tablespoons of melted butter, ½ teaspoon nutmeg, maple or brown sugar and a pinch of salt.
  6. Remove foil from casserole. Distribute small clumps of topping all over sweet potatoes. Bake, uncovered, for 40 minutes longer, until topping is golden and sizzling. Let casserole stand for 20 minutes before serving. ( I have also baked it covered for 30 minutes, uncovered for 30 and it still turned out great!)
Notes
You can bake this up to 4 hours in advance and serve it warm or at room temperature.

 

Kale, mushroom and brown rice bake recipe

Kale, Mushroom and Brown Rice Bake | Pamela Salzman
Kale, Mushroom and Brown Rice Bake | Pamela Salzman
Photography by Reagan Brooks

Daughter #1 is my 15-year-old who used to turn her nose at her plate if food groups were touching.  So you can imagine how very satisfying it was for me when she sighed, “I could eat Kale, Mushroom and Brown Rice Bake every day.”   Sigh.  Actually, both my daughters are crazy about this rice and veggie quasi-frittata and I am thrilled to cook them something so healthful and substantial for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  At the moment, the girls are on a brown rice bake kick and I’ve had to make it three times in the last two weeks!

Kale, Mushroom and Brown Rice Bake | Pamela Salzman

With teenage daughters usually comes a little drama, even first thing in the morning.  It usually involves someone borrowing someone else’s clothes without asking or someone posting a picture on Instagram of the other one sleeping with her mouth open.  But who knew that even breakfast food could fuel more than just hungry bodies?  Yesterday morning there was only 1 piece of brown rice bake leftover from the day before and Daughter #2 was the first one in the kitchen.    You know what they say about the early bird….  Daughter #1 was not the early bird yesterday, nor is she any day for that matter, but apparently she dreamt all night of brown rice bake instead of the boys from One Direction.  Do you know where this is going?  I watched it unfold in slow motion as #1 opened the refrigerator looking for the breakfast of her dreams while #2 savored another forkful of the last of the rice bake.  I knew what was next.  “Where’s the rice bake?”  No response was really necessary as my glance shot over to her sister who looked hesitant and terrified as she finished the last bite.  Hell hath no fury like a hungry teenage girl robbed of her rice bake.  No further details necessary.

Kale, Mushroom and Brown Rice Bake | Pamela Salzman                    Kale, Mushroom and Brown Rice Bake | Pamela Salzman

What’s the point of airing my family’s dirty laundry?  Oh merely just to share how much we love Brown Rice Bake and to encourage you to make it!  Although most of us (except for Mr. Picky) love frittatas, this is less eggy and more rice and vegetables bound with just enough egg to hold it all together.  The rice and (optional) sliced almonds give every bite great texture.  It’s super satisfying for any meal and a great way to use up leftover cooked brown rice and whatever vegetables you have lying around.  Think of this recipe as merely a roadmap to deliciousness – there is more than one way to get there.  Spinach, broccoli, leeks, asparagus, zucchini – all perfect here.

Kale, Mushroom and Brown Rice Bake | Pamela Salzman

I felt bad that Daughter #1 was disappointed yesterday so last night I sautéed all my vegetables and pre-measured the rice, cheese, salt and almonds, so all I had to do this morning was crack some eggs and measure a bit of milk.   I was so excited to surprise my lovely daughter with a new brown rice bake when she woke up this morning.  It’s noon and I’m still waiting for her to wake up.  Just praying there’s some rice bake left when she does…..

Kale, Mushroom and Brown Rice Bake | Pamela Salzman

 

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Kale, Mushroom and Brown Rice Bake
Author: 
Serves: 4-6 or makes 12 individual "muffins"
 
Ingredients
  • 2 Tablespoons unrefined extra-virgin olive oil or ghee
  • 4 ounces mushrooms (such as shiitake*), chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 large kale leaves, stemmed and chopped (or more if you like)
  • Sea salt
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice (or barley, farro or spelt)
  • 5 Tablespoons sliced almonds, divided
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, divided
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ cup whole milk or unsweetened hemp milk
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease an 8x8 or 9-inch round baking dish. You can also use a 12-cup muffin tin, greased or lined with silicone liners.
  2. In a large skillet heat the oil/ghee over medium heat. Sauté the mushrooms, onions, kale and a pinch of salt for about 3-5 minutes or until just beginning to soften.
  3. Add in the garlic. Continue cooking until everything is softened and the mushrooms are golden, about another 3 minutes.
  4. Place the rice in a large bowl. Stir in the mushroom mixture, ¼ cup almonds, and half the Parmesan cheese.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, ½ teaspoon salt and pepper. Fold the eggs into the rice mixture, then pour into your prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with the reserved half of cheese and 1 Tablespoon of sliced almonds.
  6. Bake for about 30 minutes or until set.
Notes
*To clean mushrooms, wipe with a damp paper towel. For shiitakes, slice off stems and discard.