OVERNIGHT BUTTERNUT AND BACON STRATA WITH GORGONZOLA AND FRIED SAGE

Ingredients

12 ounces maple flavored bacon

1 loaf ciabatta bread, but into 1 ½-2” pieces (about 1 pound loaf)

4 tablespoons butter

1 large onion, chopped

6 garlic cloves, chopped

1 pound butternut, cut into 1” pieces

1 ½ teaspoon salt, divided

1 teaspoon black pepper, divided

¼ cup fresh sage leaves, chopped

4 ounces gorgonzola cheese

1 ½ cups cheddar cheese, shredded

9 eggs

1 ½ cups heavy cream

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon Dish off the Block Ciao Bella Italian Spice Blend

Maple syrup

 

Fried Sage Garnish:

4 tablespoons butter

½ cup sage leaves

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a large baking sheet with foil.

Lay out the bacon strips in a single layer on the baking sheet and cook until crisp, about 10-12 minutes.  Remove the bacon and chop into 1” pieces. Set aside.

Leave the bacon grease on the baking sheet.  Place the bread cubes on the sheet and roll them in the grease to lightly cover.  Place in the oven and cook for 6-8 minutes until the bread is toasted on the outside, but still soft in the center.  Let cool.

Heat the butter in a large deep skillet over medium high heat.  Add the onions and garlic to the pan and cook until soft and fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Add the butternut squash to the pan and cook for 6-8 minutes, stirring frequently, until the squash begins to lightly brown and soften.  Add ½ teaspoon of the salt, ½ teaspoon of the black pepper, and sage to the pan and cover the pan.  Cook for 5-6 minutes more, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork.

Coat a 9” x 11” baking dish with non-stick spray.  Place the toasted bread in the baking dish, followed by the chopped bacon and the butternut mixture.  Gently toss everything it is all evenly distributed.

Crumble the gorgonzola over the top and sprinkle the cheddar on top of that, again making sure that everything is evenly distributed.

Combine the eggs, cream, milk, Italian seasoning, remaining teaspoon of the salt, ½ teaspoon pepper in a large bowl and whisk vigorously until very smooth.

Slowly pour this mixture over the casserole, letting it seep into all of the cracks and crevices.  Gently push the contents aside with a fork to help the egg mixture evenly seep into the center and sides of the casserole.

Cover the casserole with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and let casserole come to room temperature while the oven heats.

Remove the plastic wrap and bake for 1 hour until golden brown and set in the center (no longer any liquid in the center).

To fry the sage, melt the butter in a small nonstick frying pan until it bubbles.  Add the fresh sage leaves in a single layer (you may need to work in batches depending on the size of your leaves) and cook stirring until the butter turns brown and the sage is just crispy.  Watch them closely as this process only takes 20-30 seconds. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels.

Garnish the strata with the crispy sage leaves and serve slices drizzled with maple syrup.

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