She gave me the recipe, and I tried to make it the way she had, but I was less than successful. The flavor was great, but I didn't care for the way the eggs came out. So I decided to adapt it in order to make it easier for myself, and also to make it more of a full meal as a casserole.
The results were a huge hit with my family.
The savory, spicy sauce is what makes this dish so special.
Even with the simmer time for the sauce, you can still get the whole thing going and cooking quite quickly. Total hands on prep time is takes about 20 minutes, and total start to finish time takes about 75 minutes.
On another note, you can use fresh bread for this recipe, or you can do as thrifty homemakers have done for centuries, and use bread that is old or has even gone stale instead.
The casserole makes 8-10 servings, and costs $8-$11 to make. So around $1 per hearty serving. Add a tossed salad and an option of whole grain pita bread, or other bread of your choice, and the price comes in at around $1.50.
Here’s the recipe:
Makes 8-10 servings
Prep Time – Approximately 20 minutes
Total Start to Finish Time – Approximately 75 minutes
Total Recipe Cost – Approx. $10
Total per person meal cost with tossed salad and optional bread – approximately $1.50
3 tablespoons canola oil
8-12 bread slices, preferably whole wheat – stale slices are fine
2 large bell peppers (1 each of red and green, or 2 of the same kind)
6 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
½-1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or chipotle (to taste)
½ teaspoon salt
3 cans tomato paste
5 cups water
2 ½ cups milk
½ pound part-skim mozzarella cheese
2 cups grated part-skim mozzarella cheese
Recipe continues after photos
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Peel and dice the 2 onions.
- Wash and dice the 2 peppers.
- Coarsely chop the 6-8 cloves of garlic.
- Heat the 1/4 cup of oil in a large pot over medium heat and add the onions.
- Cook the onions, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes.
- Add the peppers and garlic to the onions and cook the vegetables until the onions are just becoming translucent. Stir often.
- Stir the 3 tablespoons of paprika, the 1 tablespoon of cumin, the 2 teaspoons of ground coriander, the ½ teaspoon of salt, the ½-1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper into the onion mix and mix in well.
- Add the 5 cups of water and the 3 cans of tomato paste and stir until completely blended and smooth.
- Bring the contents of the pot to a gentle boil and allow it to simmer and thicken for about 20 minutes, uncovered, over medium heat while you move on to prepare the rest of the recipe.
- Grate the cheese to make about 2 cups. Or measure out 2 cups from the store-bought bag.
- Stack several slices of bread and cut them all at once into cubes about 1-inch in size. Repeat with the remaining slices until you have about 5-6 cups. More or less is really fine, too.
- Pour a bit of oil onto a paper towel or napkin and use that to lightly oil the bottom and sides of a 9X12 casserole dish.
- Spread the bread cubes over the bottom of the casserole and press them into the sides and bottom of the pan.
- Beat the 2½ cups of milk and the 8-10 eggs together in a mixing bowl.
- Pour the egg and milk mixture over the bread in the casserole dish.
- Spread half the cheese mixture over the bread and egg layer. (Or you can just choose to spread it all on top- it's a matter of personal taste)
- Carefully ladle the reduced and thickened tomato mixture over the egg, bread and cheese mixture.
- Spread the remaining cheese over the top.
- Place the casserole on a cookie sheet to catch any potential overflow during the cooking process and bake in the oven for about 45 minutes, until there is no egg residue on an inserted knife and the cheese is melted.
- Serve with a fresh salad and a nice loaf of bread, for a delicious, savory meal.