Make the most of your mornings with a comforting and hearty breakfast casserole. In this one, you will find golden flecks of hash browns, chunks of crusty bread and sweet sautéed zucchini all nestled in super-tasty custard. It’s great for feeding a crowd and, as a bonus, the whole thing can be assembled the night before, if you need to. Just stash it away in the fridge and pop it into the oven the next morning while you enjoy your morning coffee.
Loaded Zucchini Breakfast Casserole [Vegan]
- 2 medium zucchini
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil or water
- 1 medium onion, chopped finely
- 16 oz (454 g) medium or firm tofu (no need to press it)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 teaspoon (10 g) Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons (16 g) arrowroot powder or cornstarch
- 1 cup (240 ml) unsweetened nondairy milk
- 1 teaspoon salt (reduce to 1/2 teaspoon if using kala namak)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons (about 4 g) dried mixed herbs, such as herbes de Provence or Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup (28 g) nutritional yeast (see note on page 49)
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon kala namak (optional)
- 1 cup (112 g) vegan cheese, divided (optional)
- 1 generous handful of fresh parsley, chopped
- 4 heaping cups (300 g) cubed plain, sourdough or flavored herby vegan bread (crusty bread that is slightly stale works best)
- 2 cups (260 g) hash browns (shredded or cubes), or the same quantity of fresh potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8" (3-mm) cubes or grated with a food processor
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil or water over medium-high heat. Add the onion and zucchini chunks, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the onion and zucchini are starting to turn golden. If using water to sauté, you will need to add a few more drops throughout the cooking process to prevent sticking. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- In a blender, combine the tofu, garlic, mustard, arrowroot powder, nondairy milk, salt, black pepper, herbs, red pepper flakes, nutritional yeast, lemon juice and kala namak, if using. If you are using the optional vegan cheese, you can add half of that, too, if you wish, or just save it all for sprinkling on the top. Blend until smooth; then add the parsley and stir to incorporate.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Then in a baking dish with at least a 21⁄2-quart (2.5-L) capacity, layer half of the bread chunks across the bottom. Top with half of the zucchini mixture, and then scatter with 1 cup (130 g) of the hash browns. Cover the hash browns with most of the remaining bread, reserving a handful of chunks to scatter on the top later. Add the rest of the zucchini mixture; then pour the tofu mixture over that. It might sit on the top, but you can help it out by poking with a spoon or knife all over to give it channels to run down. Let the tofu mixture mostly seep in (it might take a few minutes), and then push the top down all over with a spatula to compact everything. Scatter the remaining hash browns over the top and poke in the reserved bread cubes so they are mostly sticking out and can get crispy. At this point, if you want to add the remaining 1⁄2 cup (56 g) of cheese, scatter it over the top.
- Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out almost clean. If your dish is very shallow, it will cook a little more quickly; if it is really deep, it might take a little longer.
- Alternatively, if you want to cook the casserole the next morning, do not bake after assembly but cover with plastic wrap and stash it away in the fridge. For best results when doing this, if you are using potatoes rather than hash browns, make sure that they are all submerged so their color doesn’t change overnight. Then, preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) the next morning and bake, giving it an extra 5 minutes in the oven.
All sorts of veggies work well in this recipe. Cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, mushrooms and broccoli are good additions. Vegan sausages are also great in it.