Light Italian-Style Breakfast Casserole

When I eat breakfast casserole, strata or quiche, I get the sense that it’s ridiculously high calorie/fat. I think I get this sense because I’m right. Most quiche recipes call for a bunch of eggs, cream or half and half, and cheese. When I hear people say “omg this is sooo goood!” I’m like, no duh.

The thing is, casseroles – in theory – are fantastic! They have egg, dairy, meat and veggies, all in one dish! A quiche or casserole works for breakfast with fruit, or lunch and dinner with a salad! Would a breakfast casserole work with all healthy ingredients? You betcha.

If I was going to use egg whites, lowfat cheese and whole wheat bread, I had to make up for some flavor loss. With healthy additions such as flavorful veggies and fresh herbs, you won’t miss the fat! This casserole is almost souffle-like – light but very tasty. I definitely recommend eating this warm. Truth be told over the course of the day I ate four pieces – and the first warm piece was the definite winner.

If I was going to make this for a breakfast but wanted to work ahead, this is what I’d do. Grate your parm and mozzarella and place in bowls. Cook your pancetta and onions and place in bowls. Plump your sun dried tomatoes, mince your fresh herbs, and cube your bread. With all this done ahead, you will literally get this in the oven in five minutes.

A word on the ingredients; pancetta is Italian style bacon that isn’t smoked (like regular bacon). Trader Joe’s sells it in this awesome little 4 oz. container, but you can get it from most meat counters. Bacon would totally work as well. Buy the liquid egg white carton instead of separating all those eggs. If you can’t find or don’t like sun-dried tomatoes, just omit them.

Oh and LIGHT?? YESSS! This clocks in under 150 calories per piece! 

Light Italian Style Breakfast Casserole

Serves 15

1/4 c. sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped

4 oz. pancetta (or sub. about 5 strips bacon), finely chopped

1 white or yellow onion, diced

1 c. liquid egg whites

4 eggs

2 1/2 c. skim milk

2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary (or 3/4 tsp. dried)

1/2 tsp. dried thyme

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1/2 c. parmesan cheese (ideally freshly grated)

4-6 slices whole wheat bread, chopped into 1 in. pieces (4 large slices or 6 small)

4 oz. (about 3 c. packed) fresh baby spinach leaves

1 c. grated part-skim mozzerella cheese

2 tbsp. minced fresh parsley

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Place tomatoes in a bowl and pour boiling water over to cover. Set aside.

3. Heat skillet to medium high heat. Add chopped pancetta and saute until browned. Place on paper towel lined plate to drain. Set aside.

4. Drain skillet of fat, if necessary, but leave 1-2 tablespoons in pan. Add onion to pan and saute until soft and translucent, about five minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

5. In a large bowl, mix egg whites, eggs, milk, rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper and parmesan.

6. In another large bowl, mix cubed bread, drained sun-dried tomatoes (squeeze dry of excess water), pancetta, onions, and spinach. Mix well.

7. Spray a 9 x 12 pan with nonstick cooking spray. Spread bread mixture evenly in pan.

8. Pour egg mixture over top.

9. Spread top with mozzarella cheese. Place foil over dish.

10. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil, bake another 10 minutes or until lightly brown and puffed. Sprinkle with fresh parsley. Let cool about 10 -15 minutes, then slice and serve warm.


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