Christmas Eve tends to be a late night: Candlelight services, dinner with family, elfing into the wee hours. When you wake up Christmas morning, the last thing on your mind should be what to feed a house full of ravenous family.
Keep your people satiated, and keep your sanity, with a little advance planning. Make something a day (or two) ahead that can be cooked off after copious amounts of coffee on Christmas day. A savory breakfast bread pudding with sausage and Swiss chard – similar to strata but more rustic – is a cheesy, rich indulgence that’s just what the doctor ordered.
While it’s baking away in the oven, set out a make-your-own granola parfait bar with all the fixings: Bowls of gluten-free granola, yogurt, coconut chips, sliced almonds and fruit. Virtuous eaters will be appeased and the granola makes a crunchy out-of-hand snack all day long. And to wash it all down, why not a pomegranate mimosa? After all the gift opening and a big breakfast, you’ll be ready for that long winter’s nap.
Savory Breakfast Bread Pudding
Yield 6 -8 servings
Assemble a day prior to baking and refrigerate, covered with foil, until ready to bake. Bring to room temperature before cooking, or increase the baking time by 10-15 minutes. This is a versatile dish: Use almost any type of crusty bread or challah, fresh or a few days old, and almost any green, such as arugula, kale, Swiss chard or escarole. Serve for Christmas brunch, a Thanksgiving stuffing or a simple weeknight meal with a salad on the side.
2 tablespoons olive oil or avocado oil
1 large onion, cut in half from root to top and very thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 pound fresh mild Italian sausage, casings removed and crumbled
2 cups Swiss chard, chopped
2 cups milk (non-fat, low-fat or whole)
4 large eggs
1 cup Gruyére cheese, grated
1 pound (about 8 cups) French bread, cubed and toasted
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated (do not use pre-grated)
- Preheat oven to 375 and butter a 9×13-inch baking dish.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sliced onions and sauté until soft and slightly golden, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and stir. Immediately add crumbled sausage to pan and sauté until cooked through and no longer pink, about 5-10 minutes, using a wooden spoon to break up the meat if necessary.
- Add chard to the sausage mixture, turn the heat to low and stir to wilt and soften the greens. Remove pan from heat.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the milk and eggs. Stir in the Gruyere, cubed bread and seasonings. Add sausage mixture to the bowl and stir to combine.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and bake uncovered for about 45 minutes, until the top is golden and a knife inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean. (After 30 minutes, if the top is brown, cover the casserole with foil and continue to bake until the center is cooked.)