Despite the fact we are entering one of my favorite, easy, and effortless breakfast seasons (fresh berries and yogurt, anyone?), I love any chance to work protein into my mornings, so I've been doing a version of these egg bakes for some time now. They're perfect for a weekday meal because they hold up in the refrigerator for a good five days. When baked ahead of time, you can have a brunch-worthy breakfast on an average Wednesday, and it will feel like a pretty big treat.
I wrote about a version of these egg bakes with ham and cheddar a few years ago, and since that time have been making them with seasonal vegetables; mixing in cooked grains; and getting creative with spices, herbs, and cheese. Lately I've really fallen for this simple mushroom, thyme, and mozzarella version, and I think you're going to like it, too.
The ingredients here are pretty simple; you probably have half of them (or maybe more) on hand. The others won't cost a fortune to pick up. I use shallots because they're a bit more mild than onions, and slightly sweet, which works really well with the savory mushrooms and creamy egg and cheese mixture. Try to find a nice combination of different mushrooms if you can: I used cremini and shiitake, but oyster mushrooms are also great. In general, I usually skip the standard white button mushrooms because I don't think their flavor is as complex.
The egg bakes are really as simple as cooking the shallots and mushrooms, mixing up a simple egg base with a little shredded cheese, seasoning the mixture, and popping them in the oven.
The egg bakes become domed and lightly browned on top — they're a real stunner when they come out of the oven. For this reason, I love making them for brunch or when we have friends over, as they look far fancier than the effort they truly take to make. As they sit, they'll settle just a bit, but will still taste delicious. They're a winning weekday recipe largely because they're so simple to make and have such a great shelf life — if you make them on a Sunday, you can reheat them throughout the week (I do so in the microwave).
As for other mix-ins or flavor options, gruyere is a great cheese alternative here and a handful of fresh corn in the summer is wonderful. I've used roasted red peppers and feta cheese instead of the mushrooms and mozzarella, and I love doing a simple version with leftover roasted vegetables and parmesan cheese. Once you make them, you'll see how infinitely adaptable and simple they are and you can start scheming up a batch that will suit your tastes just perfectly.
Mixed Mushroom Egg Bakes
butter, to grease ramekins
extra-virgin olive oil
minced shallot (from about 2 small shallots)
sliced mixed mushrooms (cremini, oyster or shiitake, stems removed before slicing)
chopped fresh thyme
ground black pepper
grated mozzarella cheese
Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a medium saucepan, warm the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and sauté until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt and cook until softened and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Fold in the thyme.
Grease four 8-ounce ramekins with a little butter, or use cooking spray instead. Place ramekins on a baking sheet so they’ll be easier to move to and from the oven.
In a small mixing bowl, beat the eggs with the milk, salt, and pepper. Divide the mushroom mixture evenly between the ramekins. Add a generous pinch of grated cheese on top of each. Ladle egg mixture over the top, stopping just below the top lip of the ramekin.
Place baking sheet in the oven and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the tops are golden and have puffed slightly. Enjoy warm; cover and refrigerate any leftovers for up to 3 days.
If you don't have access to ramekins, you can make these in full-size muffin tins instead. Just be sure to grease the pan adequately so they don't stick.