As spring gets underway, I start thinking about leisurely Sunday brunches and Easter, which quickly brings to mind breakfast casseroles.

Ham and cheese is a classic combination that shows up in many breakfast dishes.

A longtime fan of quiche, I like this casserole because it uses the same flavors but without a crust to cut fat and calories.

It also uses nonfat milk instead of cream and can be served hot or at room temperature, allowing for a lot of flexibility in meal preparation time.

It can be a standalone meal or one dish on a big buffet.

Leftovers refrigerate easily and I often eat them for lunch along with a mixed green salad.


Active Time: 30 minutes

Serves: 6

Total Time: 1¾ hours

4 large eggs

4 large egg whites

1 cup nonfat milk

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary

¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

5 cups chopped spinach, wilted

4 cups whole-grain bread, crusts removed if desired, cut into 1-inch cubes (about ½ pound, 4-6 slices)

1 cup diced ham steak, (5 ounces)

½ cup chopped jarred roasted red peppers

¾ cup shredded Gruyère, or Swiss cheese

Preheat oven to 375 F. Coat a 7-by-11-inch glass baking dish or a 2-quart casserole with cooking spray.

Whisk eggs, egg whites and milk in a medium bowl. Add mustard, rosemary and pepper; whisk to combine. Toss spinach, bread, ham and roasted red peppers in a large bowl. Add the egg mixture and toss well to coat.

Transfer to the prepared baking dish and push down to compact. Cover with foil.

Bake until the custard has set, 40 to 45 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with cheese and continue baking until the pudding is puffed and golden on top, 15 to 20 minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

Make Ahead Tip: Prepare casserole through Step 2; refrigerate overnight. Let stand at room temperature while the oven preheats. Bake as directed in Step 3.

Tip: To wilt spinach, rinse thoroughly with cool water. Transfer to a large microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and punch several holes in it. Microwave on high until wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Squeeze out excess moisture before adding the spinach to the recipe.

Nutrition per serving: 286 calories; 10 g fat (4 g sat, 3 g mono); 167 mg cholesterol; 23 g carbohydrates; 23 g protein; 4 g fiber; 813 mg sodium; 509 mg potassium.

Source: Eating Well

Contact M. Clare Haefner at or (254) 501-7551.

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