Pumpkin anything resonates idyllically this time of year. I personally, cannot get enough of pumpkin treats, pumpkin décor, pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread…okay you get the picture! Aside from all the sweet recipes that I indulge in, I also happen to love using pumpkin in savory dishes especially in pastas, creamy soups or in this Pumpkin, Sausage and Apple Strata recipe.
It goes without saying that I look forward to pumpkin carving as Halloween approaches. For me, pumpkin carving is a special occasion filled with love and joy because it’s centered around my godchildren and the children of my lifelong friends. The morning of this given day usually starts with everyone meeting at a local pumpkin patch where all the little ones select their very own pumpkin; but not before they have ridden the ponies, found their way through the maze and filled their tummies with funnel cake and corn on the cob. I love that they ask me to partake in every part of it; it’s a yearly experience I treasure and know that I will cherish and look back on fondly when they have grown “too cool” for the pumpkin patch.
After a few hours of running after all the kids at the patch, we head to the hostess’ home where we satiate our late morning appetite with a spread of dishes we all contribute to. I usually come in hand with a strata; a layered casserole dish made with bread, pumpkin puree, sausage and cheese baked in an egg custard. The key in making a hearty rich strata, is to have the right cheese that will melt perfectly to bind with the egg custard which creates that ultimate cheesy and doughy bite.
Cacique’s new Shredded Cheese Blends make this dish even easier to prepare. These blends have been perfected by Cacique® so that you can prepare your favorite recipe by simply adding their all natural cheeses. For this strata recipe I used Cacique® Four Quesos Blend because of its ideal combination of Mexican style Cheeses; Manchego, Oaxaca, Queso Quesadilla and Asadero. YUM! This is a dynamite blend that is not only packed with flavor but also melts into a smooth cheesy texture that takes this recipe over the top. You will not be disappointed with the buttery richness and the authentic ingredients and taste of Cacique® Four Quesos Blend. Why ever use anything other than Cacique’s 100% Authentic Mexican style cheeses? I don’t! Taste Matters…Go Auténtico
To learn more about how Cacique® Authentic Shredded Cheese Blends compare to generic Mexican-style cheese blends, visit http://caciqueinc.com/queso-iq/ and take the “Queso IQ” Challenge! Although widely available in the pacific west coast states (CA, NV, OR, WA, AZ) Cacique® Shredded Cheeses will soon be available nationwide.
Note: Click the ‘Products‘ tab above to learn more about the Cacique® ingredients used in this recipe. You can find these ingredients near you by clicking the ‘Find Stores‘ tab, selecting the products you are looking for, and entering your zip code.
WHAT YOU NEED
- Butter, softened
- 1 lb. Loaf of bakery bread, crust removed and bread sliced in 1/2” slices
- 3/4 cup Pumpkin Puree
- Salt and Pepper
- 1 Chile Chipotle Pepper (optional)
- 1 Green Apple, small dice
- 1/2 lb. Pork Sausage, casings removed
- 3 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
- 1 cup Cacique® Four Quesos Blend Shredded Cheese
- 2 large Eggs
- 1 1/2 cup Milk
- Note: If looking to make a 9- by-13- inch baking dish, just double this recipe.
HOW TO MAKE IT
- Preheat oven to 375°F and grease a 9-by-6-inch glass or baking dish with butter.
- In a skillet over medium heat, cook sausage breaking up into bite size pieces until cooked through, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer sausage to a bowl and set aside to cool down.
- Season pumpkin puree to taste with salt and pepper, approximately ½ teaspoon. Optional: Blend seasoned pumpkin mixture with 1 chile chipotle pepper until well mixed. Transfer to bowl.
- Arrange one third of the bread at the bottom of the baking dish and spread half the pumpkin mixture. Top with half the sausage, half the apple, half of fresh thyme leaves and one third of Cacique® Four Blend Cheese. Repeat one more layer, top with final third of just bread and cheese.
- In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Season to taste with salt and pepper, approximately 1 teaspoon of salt and pepper to taste. Pour custard evenly over the dish. Press bread to absorb custard; wait a few minutes to allow all liquid to soak in thoroughly. Loosely cover with foil and bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes or until bubbling and edges have begun to brown. Remove foil and continue to bake for another few minutes to let top get golden brown.
- Allow strata to sit for 5-10 minutes before cutting into squares and serving warm.