Weekend Brunch: Heirloom Tomato Breakfast Casserole
Today marks a first in The Yellow Table's (blog) history: I'm featuring a casserole. You heard me right – we're talking the 9x13-inch, take-it-to-a-church-potluck kind. I may be a quinoa- and kale-loving girl most of the time, but every once in awhile, I get a hankering for an ooey-gooey cheese, egg, and sausage filled breakfast casserole. (I am a Southerner, after all!) I have to say, casseroles seem to be the underdogs of brunch fare. On a typical brunch menu you'll see all manner of egg dishes – omelettes, stratas, fritatas, and the ubiquitous Benedict – but never casserole. Which is a shame, because they're a) delicious and b) versatile and c) so easy to make.
Last month, I helped host a brunch in Nashville for my little sister Maria who's getting married this fall (!!). I planned a simple, summery menu that would taste great, but that could be made almost entirely in advance: orange-zest scones with rhubarb strawberry compote, garlic-and-cheddar grits, arugula salad with white peaches, pistachios, and ricotta salata, and a tomato-basil-mozzarella breakfast casserole. (Some friends also brought a beautiful fruit salad and decadent little chocolate ganache brownies to finish off the meal).
My Aunt Margaret and my mom were my sous chefs, and the three of us had a blast cooking for the party. We made nearly everything the day before, so all that was required the morning of the brunch was to reheat the casserole and the grits, bake the scones (I had shaped and frozen them in advance), and toss the salad. Everyone cleaned their plates, but the comment I heard the most was: "That casserole is SO good. Is the recipe on your blog?!" My mom is still getting requests a month later, so Nashville ladies, here you go :)
This recipe is a combination between a breakfast casserole recipe from Epicurious.com that I've been making for years, and an heirloom tomato, basil, mozzarella tart I made last summer for a brunch party I catered. I love using different varieties of tomatoes (while they're in season) and alternating the colors to create a pretty design. Though this casserole is pretty fantastic with sausage, you could easily eliminate it if you're vegetarian or don't eat pork. Though now is definitely the time to make this casserole, when the tomatoes are at their best, you could still make it in the winter using chopped sundried tomatoes.
Forget going out to brunch this weekend - invite friends over instead! Head to the Farmer's Market and buy the most beautiful heirloom tomatoes you can find, plus some fresh basil and farm eggs. Make the casserole, add a fresh fruit salad and a couple bottles of bubbly and you've got an Instagram-worthy brunch. Cheers![recipe:best-heirloom-tomato-breakfast-casserole-recipe]