A Love-ly Breakfast Casserole

So, as a Valentine’s Day gift from me to you, I give you the recipe I’ve been taunting with all weekend: Dairy Free Cinnamon Ricotta & Pancetta Breakfast Casserole.

Intrigued by a recipe Mr. K saw on The Kitchn, he became determined to find a way to make it dairy free: Pancetta & Cinnamon Ricotta Casserole.  Using my research skills, I searched the interwebs until I found a few recipes guiding us on how we could make dairy free ricotta.

We started on Friday night before our Valentines Dinner, Part 1 by making the dairy free ricotta.  Its simple – its so, so simple!  I was surprised, enthralled and am super excited to make it more often and make recipes that call for ricotta: Hello, lasagna & cannelloni!

First, you take a package of extra firm tofu (the online websites all recommended firm tofu, but they didn’t have any at the store, and personally I loved the texture of the extra firm, so I’m sticking with it) and drain it.  Then you put it into your food processor and you add to the honey, salt, olive oil, soy creamer & lemon juice.

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We used beeline honey, which helps supports a good cause.

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(Please excuse me while I go on a personal-opinion rant and self-recommend beeline honey):

“Your purchase of each beeline® product helps people facing significant barriers to employment, particularly those with histories of criminal conviction. With your purchase you provide viable opportunities for individuals to establish a work history, learn productive work habits, and gain marketable skills. Your investment builds stepping stones toward employment, career advancement, and productive membership in society.”

So even though this honey was a little pricier than the others on the shelf, I was all for it when Mr. K told me who it supports.

Anyways, the honey:

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Then you put the cover on the food processor, and let it whirrrrrrrr.  (My favorite part, and perhaps word.)

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After the whirring, you’ve got plain ricotta substitute.

But, we’re not done as today’s recipe calls for: cinnamon ricotta.  So, we added the cinnamon and brown sugar, covered it back up, and let her whirrrrrrrr for a second time.

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Then, we had creamy cinnamon ricotta that I seriously couldn’t keep my hands out of (what didn’t make it into the casserole, definitely made it into my stomach).

Next up, we had to pan fry the pancetta. And I now think pancetta might smell better than bacon.  I mean it’s a close call, but wow.

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Yum.  Once it cooled we chopped it up.

Then, we had to mix up the eggs with the soy creamer (another substitute, as I’m pretty sure half & half would kill me).

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Mmmm…eggs & soy cream.

We then, put a layer of bread (its made with the ciabatta roll dough recipe) in a 9×13 pan we had greased up with Earth Garden.  And then topped the bread with the cinnamon ricotta & pancetta, before topping it with a second layer of bread, pouring on the egg mixture & covering it with plastic wrap to soak overnight in the fridge.

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Then, Saturday morning we woke up, it was baking time!  And then…eating time!

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Verdict?  It was delicious and we loved the way you got everything you want for a hearty breakfast in one dish.  And the cinnamon ricotta?!  They (my Chicago friends who came over for brunch) had no clue it was dairy free until I told them – they were actually curious as to what it was, because it was delicious!  How did we enjoy it the most?  Why, we added maple syrup on top!  Seriously, it was an awesome mixture of flavors, but the maple syrup just took it to the next level.

We also discussed that we might, in the future, pour a little maple syrup on the top before we cook it (the original recipe on The Kitchn had sugar sprinkled across the top, but we omitted it – partially on accident – and decided we’d prefer maple syrup as a crystalized topper).

So how about it, you want the recipe?

First things first:

Dairy Free Ricotta

  • 1 package extra firm tofu, drained
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tbsp soy creamer

Put all ingredients in your food processor (it helps you you break the tofu into a few chunks).  Whir until a creamy texture ~ about that of ricotta.  Mix in flavoring as your heart desires.

Now, onto the important one:

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Dairy Free Cinnamon Ricotta & Pancetta Breakfast Casserole

  • 1 loaf ciabatta bread, sliced.  (its whatever bread is made with the same dough recipe as ciabatta rolls)
  • 7 eggs (we used 6, but I think 7 would’ve been a bit better)
  • 2/3 cup soy creamer
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 6 oz pancetta
  • dairy free ricotta (1 whole recipe – you may end up with some leftover, but this lets you put it on to your desired thickness)
  • Earth Balance (or another dairy free butter substitute)

The night before you want to eat this delectable dish, mix the cinnamon and brown sugar in with the dairy free ricotta (we just added it into the food processor, so I could whir away some more).  Meanwhile, pan fry the pancetta in a skillet.  Note: you do NOT need oil – pancetta has enough natural oils on its own.  Once the pancetta is cooked, let it cool and then dice it up (not too small).  Mix the eggs and soy creamer together, until well blended.

Then, ‘butter’ up a 9×13 inch glass pan.  Put a layer of bread into the bottom of the pan, cover with the cinnamon ricotta – as thick as you want.  I think we had it about a 1/4 inch thick.  then sprinkle the pancetta evenly onto the ricotta.  Cover with a second layer of bread, and evenly poor the egg & cream mixture atop.  Cover with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge over night.

About 20 minutes before you want to cook your casserole, pull it out of the fridge and uncover it.  Preheat the oven to 350.  If you feel so inclined at this point, you can drizzle maple syrup (this has not been tested, but is theoretically ah-mazing) or some raw/brown sugar if your heart so desire.  Then cook in the oven for 40-45 minutes, or until the top layer of the bread starts to get that crusty french toast look/golden brown hue.

Then, take it out, let it cool for a few minutes, and then, dig in.  You might want to serve it onto individual plates, for portion control, but feel free to just dig right in to the pan with your fork.  I probably would have, if we had not had guests over Smile

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What breakfast foods would you combine together in a dish? I think I would like to try making a breakfast omelet-hash brown casserole type dish.  I think it could be incredible.  Spice, hearty egg goodness with has brown delight.  Mmmmmmmmmm.  Maybe throw in some sausage too, just for good measure Winking smile

Happy V-Day Everyone!  Seriously, you all light up my life and make my already really enjoyable blogging that much more fun!

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5 thoughts on “A Love-ly Breakfast Casserole

  1. Shoot, I thought this was post going to be the Valentine’s Day, Part II – though this definitely looks blog-worthy 🙂

    I’m looking forward for the V-Day follow-up!

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