Breezy Brunch Menu
As the weather warms up and segues into the sizzling heat of summer, sharing food with friends becomes particularly appealing. I love serving a breezy brunch to my guests when they appear at the lake for a weekend visit — my cruise-worthy menu can be prepared well in advance of a summer excursion.
A smooth, lemony-light (but satisfying) Chilled Avocado Soup is a perfect first course, followed by a tantalizing dairy and egg-free Zucchini Summer Quiche. The quiche is accompanied by a refreshingly crunchy and sweet Jicama and Spinach Salad and paired with Cranberry-Pecan Quick Biscuits bursting with the tangy taste of dried cranberries and the subtle crunch of pecans.
Portable, palatable, and pleasing, it’s a culinary line-up that is sure to become a staple in your entertaining recipe box.
Zucchini Summer Quiche
1 cup garbanzo bean (chickpea) flour
3 heaping tablespoons sesame tahini
3 tablespoons cold nondairy milk, plus more as needed
2 medium zucchini and/or yellow summer squash
14 to 16 ounces firm regular tofu, drained
1½ teaspoons Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon chili powder
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon maple syrup
⅓ cup diced sweet red pepper
2 tablespoons minced onion
3/4 cup shredded vegan cheese
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
½ teaspoon sweet or smoked paprika
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Oil a 9-inch pie plate.
To make the crust, put the garbanzo bean flour in a medium bowl. Add the tahini and the cold nondairy milk. Mix using a pastry cutter or fork until the dough begins to form into chunks the size of large peas. Pull the dough together with your hands. If it is still too crumbly to form into a ball, add more of the cold nondairy milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, up to 3 tablespoons.
Form the dough into a ball and place it in the prepared pie plate. Gently press the dough evenly over the bottom and partway up the sides of the pie plate. Bake the crust for 7 minutes. Put the plate on a wire rack and cool for 20 minutes.
While the crust bakes, cut 10 to 12 very thin slices from the center of one zucchini and set aside for garnish. Using a box grater, shred enough of the remaining zucchini to equal 1½ cups (lightly packed). Put the 1½ cups shredded zucchini in a fine meshed strainer and place it over a medium bowl. Let the shredded zucchini stand for 10 minutes to drain excess liquid.
Meanwhile, put the tofu, Italian seasoning, turmeric, chili powder, salt, and cayenne pepper in a blender and process until smooth.
Before removing the zucchini from the strainer, press it gently with your hands to push out any excess liquid. Put the zucchini and maple syrup in a large bowl and stir gently to coat. Add the red pepper and onion, and stir to combine. Add the tofu to the zucchini mixture. Add the vegan cheese and fresh pepper, and stir gently to combine. Pour the tofu mixture into the crust. Smooth the top.
Cut the reserved zucchini slices in half and press them into the top of the quiche in a decorative fashion. Sprinkle the paprika in an even layer over the top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes until the center is set. Put the pan on a wire rack and cool for at least 60 minutes before slicing into wedges. May be served warm or refrigerated and served chilled.
Makes 4 servings (or 6 small servings)
10 ounces baby spinach, washed and dried
1 large jicama, washed, peeled, and cut in strips
16 grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
12 green or kalamata olives, diced
8 teaspoons chopped walnuts
4 teaspoons raw or roasted sunflower seeds
Sweet Maple Mustard Dressing (see below) or your favorite salad dressing
To make the salad, divide the baby spinach among four salad plates. For each serving, top with one-quarter of the jicama strips, 8 tomato halves and one-quarter of the chopped olives. Sprinkle each serving with 2 teaspoons of walnuts and 1 teaspoon of sunflower seeds. Drizzle 1 heaping tablespoon of the dressing over each salad, plus more if desired. Serve immediately.
Sweet Maple-Mustard Salad Dressing
4 heaping tablespoons maple syrup
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon water, plus more as needed
1/4teaspoon sea salt
Dash cayenne pepper
Put all ingredients in small bowl. Whisk briskly until combined. If the dressing is too thick, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time as needed, until the desired consistency is achieved.
Chilled Avocado Soup
Makes 4 to 6 servings
2 small avocados
12 ounces soft regular or silken tofu, drained and cubed
¼ sweet onion, chopped
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, chopped
1 heaping teaspoon brown sugar or sucanat
½ teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons filtered or spring water, plus more as needed
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Cilantro sprigs or chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
Peel, pit, and chop the avocados. Put the chopped avocados, tofu, onion, lemon juice,garlic, sugar, cilantro, salt, cayenne pepper,and 2 tablespoons water in a blender and process until creamy. If the soup is too thick, add more water, 2 tablespoons at a time, up to 1/2 cup, to achieve the desired consistency. Transfer to a bowl.
Season with additional salt and pepper if desired. Cover and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours.About 30 minutes before serving, chill four small soup bowls or six demitasse cups. To serve, ladle the soup into the chilled bowls.Garnish each serving with cilantro or parsley.Serve immediately.
Cranberry-Pecan Quick Biscuits
Makes 12 Mini-Biscuits
1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup dried cranberries
½ cup, plus 2 tablespoons chopped pecans
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup vanilla flavored nondairy milk
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Oil a 12-cup mini-muffin tin.
Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon in a large bowl and stir with a dry whisk to combine. Add in the cranberries and pecans and stir to combine. Stir in the nondairy milk and maple syrup. Mix just until incorporated. The batter will be quite thick. Don’t over mix or the muffins will be tough.
Divide the mixture among the muffin cups, using a large spoon or cookie scoop. The muffin cups will be very full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
Put the pan on a wire rack and loosen the sides of each muffin with a knife. Let cool for 5 to 7 minutes. Carefully remove the muffins from the pans. Let cool 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Laura Theodore is a TASTE Award-winning television personality, radio host, vegan chef, award-winning jazz singer and actor, and author of Jazzy Vegetarian Classics: Vegan Twists on American Family Favorites and Jazzy Vegetarian: Lively Vegan Cuisine Made Easy and Delicious. Season 4 of “Jazzy Vegetarian” will air nationwide this summer. www.jazzyvegetarian.com
By Laura Theodore