This image shows a larger adaptation of the Israeli dish shakshuka from Molly Gilbert’s “Sheet Pan Suppers.” (Molly Gilbert via AP)

This image shows a larger adaptation of the Israeli dish shakshuka from Molly Gilbert’s “Sheet Pan Suppers.” (Molly Gilbert via AP)

To feed a crowd for Easter brunch, these chefs suggest baking your eggs

Molly Gilbert shares her take on a traditional Israeli dish while Lauren Lane offers up her version of an egg casserole.

By Albert Stumm / Associated Press

As anyone who has ever made breakfast for a crowd can attest, it’s no fun stressing over how people like their eggs, or churning out pancakes until everyone but the cook has eaten enough.

Instead, for Easter brunch this year, bake your eggs. That way, you can feed a large group all at once and maximize time with your guests.

Two chefs offer recipes:

Sheet Pan Shakshuka

In her book “Sheet Pan Suppers,” Molly Gilbert adapted several breakfast recipes to serve up to eight people, including the whimsically titled “Greens and Eggs and Ham” and a doubled-up version of Israeli shakshuka.

Traditionally prepared in a skillet, shakshuka has a base of sautéed peppers, tomatoes, onions and garlic. Depending on the size of the skillet, five or six eggs are cracked into divots made in the sauce with the back of a spoon, and the dish finishes cooking in the oven or covered on the stovetop. Chopped parsley freshens it and crumbled feta adds creamy, briny notes.

Gilbert, on the other hand, uses a larger, rimmed baking sheet and heads straight for the oven. She tosses the chopped vegetables with oil and cumin directly on the sheet pan and roasts them until they begin to brown. She then mixes in a can of crushed tomatoes and takes advantage of the bigger surface area by making enough divots for 12 eggs.

In just about half an hour, the dish is ready, bursting with contrasting flavors and textures from a handful of ingredients.

“You get that sweet acidity from the tomatoes, heat from the peppers,” Gilbert said. “And the creaminess of feta on top just makes it so good.”

Make-ahead Strata

For even more free time away from the kitchen, an egg casserole called strata can be assembled the day before, refrigerated overnight and baked when guests arrive. It’s something of a savory bread pudding, with beaten eggs binding torn pieces of bread and any combination of breakfast meat, greens, sliced vegetables and cheese.

Lauren Lane, whose eponymous website focuses on entertaining and easy weeknight recipes, praised the dish for being infinitely adaptable to whatever ingredients you have on hand.

“You can literally go to the fridge and pantry and make it at any given time,” Lane said, adding that her most recent strata was made completely from leftovers.

Many recipes call for placing the bread on the bottom and layering the remaining ingredients, but Lane prefers stirring everything together. It’s easier, and it also allows little pieces of bread to peek out and become crispy in the oven as the eggs puff up.

Strata can be made hearty with lots of cheese and cooked sausage or bacon, or lighter by loading up on greens and other vegetables. Fill out the meal with a nice salad, a basket of pastries or some chopped fruit.

“All that can be done waiting for the main event in the oven,” Lane said. “So hopefully you’re just pouring mimosas and not running around the kitchen.”

Sheet Pan Shakshuka, from Molly Gilbert’s “Sheet Pan Suppers”

Serves: 6 to 8

Time: 30 to 40 minutes

2 poblano peppers, seeded and chopped

2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped

1 shallot, chopped

6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1½ teaspoons ground cumin

2 tablespoons smoked paprika

1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

12 large eggs

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

½ cup chopped parsley

Toast or warm pita bread, for serving

Preheat the oven to 35o degrees Fahrenheit with a rack in the middle. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss together the chopped vegetables, paprika, ½ teaspoon salt and 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil until the vegetables are evenly coated.

Bake until the spices are fragrant and the vegetables have started to brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven.

Pour the tomatoes, with their juice, over the vegetables and stir to combine. Use a wooden spoon to make 12 evenly spaced divots in the sauce. The sauce will be runny. Crack the eggs into the divots and sprinkle with salt.

Return the pan to the oven and bake until the eggs are cooked, 10 to 15 minutes for whites to set with runny yolks. Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle with parsley and feta.

Lauren Lane’s Make-ahead Breakfast Strata

Serves: 8

Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

8 large eggs

1½ cups milk

½ cup half-and-half

Pinch of ground nutmeg

Pinch of cayenne pepper

¾ teaspoon Kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 green onions, sliced

4 ounces (about 1 cup packed) greens such as arugula, spinach or chopped kale

1 to 2 cups chopped vegetables or cooked bacon or sausage (or combination)

8 ounces leftover bread torn into 1-inch pieces, such as English muffins, white or sourdough bread

1 cup shredded mild melting cheese such as Gruyere, provolone, goat cheese or Gouda. (more for the top, if desired)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with a rack in the middle. Grease a 1½-quart (9-inch square) baking dish with butter or cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, nutmeg, cayenne, salt and pepper together in a large bowl. Mix in the rest of the ingredients. Pour into the prepared baking dish and top with the additional cheese, if desired.

Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake until the strata is puffed, golden brown at the edges and set in the center, about 15 minutes more. Test the center for doneness.

Albert Stumm lives in Barcelona and writes about food, travel and wellness. Find his work at albertstumm.com.

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