Breakfast Chez Nous: Bagel, Tomato and Cream Cheese Casserole

The Husband and I hosted the beaux-parents (that’s the in-laws, but in French it sounds less contractual and more like a relationship that was entered into lovingly) this weekend for a few days of eating, drinking, and Hoyas hoops watching.

We also exchanged Christmas gifts, and Hubs and I received Jawbone bracelets to track our movement – but that’s another story, since it doesn’t go too well with the theme of eating and drinking.  (There’s a larger metaphor to ponder.)

To get us (back) into the Christmas spirit, I had planned on making what the Husband’s family normally enjoys on Christmas morning – a bread/egg casserole.  And then I thought about trying to recreate a decades-plus tradition, and thought again.  Instead, I took a look at the long-suffering bagels in our freezer, my new Smitten Kitchen cookbook, and got to work recreating Deb Perelman’s New York Breakfast Casserole (with a few minor tweaks, obvi).

assembly: the most tedious part
assembly: the most tedious part

Bagel, Tomato, and Cream Cheese Breakfast Casserole

  • 3 large bagels, cut into cubes (bonus if they’re sesame, everything, or onion)
  • 1 bar chilled cream cheese, cut into small bits
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 and 1/3 cups milk or half & half
  • a good handful each of salt, pepper, crushed reds
  • optional: bacon, cooked and cut into small, crispy bits, capers for serving
puffed & golden brown
puffed & golden brown
  1. Prepare the casserole the night before you want to eat this.  Spread about a third of the bagel cubs in a 9×13 baking dish and place a small bit of cream cheese on the bagel cubes.  Mix in about a third of the onion and tomatoes.  Repeat again, adding more bagels, cream cheese, onion and tomatoes.  If adding bacon, do so now.
  2. Whisk eggs with the milk, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper.  Pour the mixture evenly over the bagels/onions/tomatoes.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  3. The next morning: preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Bake the casserole, uncovered, for about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes, until it has puffed, turned golden brown and cooked all the way through.  Let it rest a few minutes before serving.
  4. Serve with a grind of salt and black pepper, maybe some sriracha, and a side of fruit salad, to even it all out and make your Jawbone happy.  Note: this feeds 6-8 people comfortably.  If you have leftovers, it reheats beautifully over low heat in your oven or toaster.
fruit + cream cheese and bagels = net good-for-you, right?
fruit + cream cheese and bagels = net good-for-you, right?

The Verdict:

There was universal agreement around the breakfast table that this was really good – but would have benefited from the addition of bacon.  I loved the creamy puffiness of the cheese bits, combined with the sweetness of the roasted tomatoes.  The bagels, nice and crisp, also add a good crunch to the dish – not something you’d normally expect from a casserole.  A definite winner – with bacon!


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planning, cooking, eating and repeating.

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