This sausage strata is a savory breakfast bake filled with Italian sausage crumbles, sautéed asparagus, and Asiago cheese. It’s the perfect brunch dish for holidays or for entertaining!
Do you ever get the feeling that you’re going to fall so madly in love with a specific food before you even make it? That’s the story with me and this sausage strata. I love french toast bakes something fierce, but I tend to lean to the savory side when it comes to breakfasts and brunch. This strata combines the two effortlessly! Baguette slices form the base, with Italian sausage, asparagus, and Asiago cheese adding a whole ton of flavor.
Even though stratas tend to be a special occasion breakfast/brunch food (hello, Christmas morning breakfast!), I was curious to see if I could make one that wasn’t quite as rich as some of the ones out there. Eight, nine, ten eggs…and let’s not forget whole milk or cream! Eeeesh. Then I came across this recipe from Food & Wine that utilized chicken stock for a lot of the liquid and only used two eggs, and I knew this was it. While I went with their ratio of bread to liquid as my base, I changed up just about everything else.
And you know what? This just may be my favorite breakfast to date. THAT good. Once baked, this sausage strata isn’t too soggy, soupy, or eggy (one of my worries when it comes to french toast), and features baguette pieces that absorb enough liquid to soften just right, with the tops of the pieces on the edges crisping up from baking. Each slice doesn’t skimp on crumbled sausage, asparagus, or onion, and the cheese works its way into each bite. Plus, I really loved the extra bit of flavor the chicken broth adds. I didn’t miss all the eggs one bit!
For starters I like to prep my ingredients, which in this case means slice up the baguettes, dice the onion, rinse and chop the asparagus, and slice the cheese. I wanted larger pieces than grating cheese would yield, so I used the side of my box grater with the long singular blade to thinly slice it and roughly broke up some of the bigger pieces.
You can see them in the below photo, which was this bad boy pre-bake. It’s making me hungry just looking at it.
Once you’re all prepped, you saute the onion and asparagus and brown the ground Italian sausage. Easy enough, right? Those get combined with the bread cubes and cheese along with a few herbs and spices in a large bowl and hang for a sec while you whisk up the liquid ingredients. Add the liquid ingredients to the bowl with everything and stir it all up – you’re almost done. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, shuffle around the fridge odds and ends to make room for the bowl, and refrigerate for at least 4-5 hours (or overnight, which is what I tend to do).
When you’re ready to roll, spray a baking dish with cooking spray, evenly spread the strata mixture in the prepared dish, and pop it in the oven until set and the cheese is bubbly. Yes, it bakes for a good amount of time and yes, the aroma will drive you a little crazy waiting, but promise you it’s worth it.
Just a few notes about the recipe. I went back and forth between using a combo of cheeses, Gruyere, or aged Asiago. You’ll see a lot of breakfast bake/quiche recipes that use Gruyere cheese. I happen to love Gruyere, but a half pound wedge of Gruyere at my local supermarket was double the price of a wedge of aged Asiago. As they’re both hard cheeses with a distinct flavor, I opted to save a little money and go with Asiago. You could definitely use Gruyere if you prefer, though I loved the aged Asiago so much that’s what I’ll stick with in making this recipe in the future.
I went with 1% milk as that’s what we had and totally didn’t find the flavor to be lacking. Of course, you can use 2% or whole milk, too.
Sausage Strata with Asiago and Asparagus
- 2 half pound baguettes, cut into approx. 1" cubes
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 lb asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 1" pieces
- 1 lb mild Italian sausage
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- 3/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 lb aged asiago cheese, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
- 2 eggs
- 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 1 1/2 cups milk (I used 1%, use your preferred)
- Cut baguettes into approximate 1" cubes and set aside. Dice onion and cut up asparagus and set aside, as well.
- Heat olive oil in a skillet set over medium heat. Add onion and asparagus to the skillet and stir frequently while cooking for 6-7 minutes, or until the asparagus has softened slightly and the onions have become a bit golden. Transfer to a large bowl to cool slightly.
- Place sausage to the skillet set over medium heat and break up into crumbles. Continue to crumble and stir the sausage as it cooks, until it's no longer pink. Once fully browned, transfer sausage crumbles drained of the fat to bowl with the onion and asparagus.
- Add parsley, salt, pepper, and Asiago cheese to the bowl and stir to combine everything.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, chicken broth, and milk. Pour the liquid mixture into the bowl with the other ingredients and stir so that the liquid evenly coats everything.
- Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4-5 hours, or overnight.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 10"x14" baking pan* with cooking spray and evenly spread the strata ingredients in the pan. Press down slightly to pack it all in.
- Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Take off the foil and bake for another 45 minutes, or until the top baguette pieces are golden brown and the strata is pretty much set and a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let strata rest for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.