Country Ham and Asparagus Breakfast Casserole

Ham, Asp, egg cass
Most egg casseroles have the same texture. They are warm and comforting like mashed potatoes but they are, well, Mushy! This casserole has a layer of egg casserole, crisp tender asparagus, fresh tomatoes, and crunchy bread cubes on top. It is a delight to the senses!

Country Ham and Asparagus Breakfast Casserole- 6 servings

1/2 loaf French bread
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 and 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
8 ounces asparagus, trimmed then cut in half
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Gruyere or Swiss cheese
1/2 cup chopped onion, 1/4 inch dice
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/4 cup chopped chives
8 ounces country ham, small dice
10 eggs
1 and 1/2 cups milk
Garnish: 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Cut bread in half lengthwise. Mix olive oil, Italian seasoning, garlic salt and granulated garlic in a small bowl. Brush bread halves with olive oil mixture. Cut bread into 1 inch cubes (enough to make 5 cups). Bake bread cubes on a rimmed baking sheet, in a single layer, for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside. While bread cubes are baking, cook onion in a small skillet in one tablespoon of canola oil until translucent. Place asparagus in 1/2 inch of water in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 3 minutes until crisp tender. Mix 4 of the eggs with the milk. Set aside.

In a 9 X 13 inch pan sprayed with non-stick spray, layer one half of the toasted cubed bread. Top with half of the country ham and asparagus, all the cooked onions, chives, and cheese. Layer with the other half of the toasted cubed bread, country ham and asparagus. Pour milk mixture over the entire casserole. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator overnight.

To bake: Preheat the oven to 325 F. Bake, uncovered for 30 minutes. Make 6 indentations (3 per side) in the casserole with a large spoon. The six indentations should be large enough to hold 1 egg each. Break one egg into each indentation. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes more or until a thermometer inserted in the center of the casserole reads 170 F and eggs are set. (The eggs will appear done but the yolks will be slightly runny). Garnish with grape tomatoes. Let set for 15 minutes before serving. Enjoy Friends!

Published in The News and Neighbor on January 13, 2016

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