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No-meat brunch

Discerning1 May 30, 2011 11:28 PM

It's my turn to host a brunch and the group is vegetarian (NOT vegan). Over the years I've made a Spanish tortilla, an Algerian egg and potato dish called marcoude, a vegetarian pastel de Moctezuma, a vegetarian posole, and grits with chanterelle ragù.

I'm searching for something new to feature. Any ideas? Something with protein for the main course.

I've been looking at recipes for strata, but without meat, they sound like a lot of cheese and butter. I can't do anything à la minute, so need something that can be prepped and hot when folks arrive.


  1. alkapal Jun 27, 2011 04:50 AM

    for future reference, there is a wonderful-looking recipe for zaalook ("zaalouk") -- a moroccan eggplant "caviar" spread. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRrHJO...

    you watch, you want!

    1. Discerning1 Jun 26, 2011 05:19 PM

      Thank you, Chowhounds. You've given me enough ideas for a year of brunches.

      I ended up doing a red pepper and cheese strata, using the wonderful suggestion of replacing a cup of the milk with Trader Joe's Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato soup. Also added a ton of vegetables as suggested. Roasted lots of red peppers and sauteed them with freshly picked red onions and their green tops with fresh Greek oregano. I used goat cheese, Irish cheddar and challah as the bread. Wish I'd taken a photo, it was beautiful and delicious.

      The menu started with fresh garbanzos charred in the shell, hollowed cucumber cups filled with goat cheese and homemade tapenade, cheeses with quince paste, accompanied by cucumber and gin spritzers.

      Then the strata with stone fruit brandied sangria. Ended with Meyer lemon sorbet served in lemon shells, topped with a candied basil leaf and paired with fresh lavender shortbread.

      Thank goodness I had a terrific sous chef and great guests.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Discerning1
        Chocolatechipkt Jun 26, 2011 05:28 PM

        Sounds delicious!

        1. re: Discerning1
          goodhealthgourmet Jun 26, 2011 05:42 PM

          unfortunately i'm just catching this thread now, but it sounds like you served a fantastic menu! if your turn comes around again while we still have glorious summer fruit available, you might want to consider blintzes or crepes.

        2. greygarious Jun 2, 2011 10:36 AM

          At an upscale restaurant i once had a satisfying brunch main called "Breakfast of Champignons", which was a baked toasted shell made of bread, filled with mushrooms in a rich mornay sauce.

          I make cheese strata using Trader Joe's Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup in place of most of the cream in the custard. I use ham and cheese between the bread slices but you could use fried or broiled eggplant slices, sauteed mushrooms, spinach, etc.

          1 Reply
          1. re: greygarious
            Discerning1 Jun 2, 2011 10:56 AM

            I love Trader Joe's Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup...it's one of my staples (as a soup, sprinkled with pan-toasted wild rice). A good idea to use it to cut down the cream. Thanks.

          2. t
            twilight goddess Jun 2, 2011 10:01 AM

            Mushroom strudel in phyllo dough is one star that I have served for guests for many years, and it is an oooo! ahhhh! dish (stole the show at a Thanksgiving dinner this year. The friend who invited me to the dinner, a vegetarian, barely got a slice of the strudel because all of the [meat-eating] relatives were gobbling it up!

            I found this recipe years ago in the original Moosewood cookbook.... mmmm. Filling -- mushrooms, a burst of lemon juice for brightening the flavor, cream cheese, dill, shallot, some other goodies. Wrapped in phyllo and popped in the oven until golden. You can add spinach.


            1. Chocolatechipkt Jun 2, 2011 09:32 AM

              Epicurious has a yummy red pepper and cheddar strata that I've played around with in any number of directions.


              My version is here:

              With two vegetarians in my family, most of the brunches I do are vegetarian, or mostly so -- any meat is on the side, in any case. Spanikopita is good, as is quiche. The fun thing with brunch is that you can have pretty much anything.

              1. alkapal Jun 2, 2011 05:11 AM

                i just saw this spinach-cheese bars recipe that looks like a winner! http://www.justapinch.com/recipe/ncle...

                4 Replies
                1. re: alkapal
                  Berheenia Jun 2, 2011 05:49 AM

                  Wow- that was my mother and aunt's go to recipe in the 80's and I still make it! Theirs uses more eggs (5) and spinach (2 boxes) and sharp cheddar rather than jack cheese..

                  1. re: Berheenia
                    alkapal Jun 2, 2011 07:40 AM

                    yes, i could def see substitutions and tweaks. tell me about the "crust" -- is it one of these self-making crusts?

                    1. re: alkapal
                      Berheenia Jun 2, 2011 02:54 PM

                      No crust. Sometimes the corners get crunchy but no crust.

                      1. re: Berheenia
                        alkapal Jun 27, 2011 04:47 AM

                        thanks, berheenia -- i'm going to try those.

                2. 4
                  4Snisl Jun 1, 2011 01:17 PM

                  How about chilaquiles topped with a poached egg, or huevos rancheros?

                  Or shakshuka, Israeli eggs in tomato sauce with warm pitas...with tomato, cucumber and onion salad on the side?


                  1. r
                    rjlebed Jun 1, 2011 12:29 PM

                    One of my favorite recipes is a Spinach in Puff Pastry recipe that is found in the Barefoot Contessa's "Barefoot in Paris" cookbook! It is yummy with a good salad. I usually put togetehr a salad of Spring Greens, sliced apples, pecans, dried cranberries, and scallions. Balsamic dressing and you are good to go!


                    1. c
                      cathyeats Jun 1, 2011 10:50 AM

                      I made this Asparagus and Yellow Pepper Fritatta recently, from Epicurious. I used 8 whole eggs and 8 whites, and substituted milk for the heavy cream. It was fantastic.


                      1. p
                        piccola May 31, 2011 03:19 PM

                        How many people are you feeding? If it's not a huge group, and you don't mind going for something sweeter, you could try a Dutch baby. It's all the greatness of pancakes without the fuss of having to cook them on the stove.

                        If you want to stick with eggs, you could try shakshouka. This version is delicious: http://www.joanne-eatswellwithothers....

                        I don't know what the weather is like where you are, but it's boiling here, so I wouldn't want to use my oven. So why not try something like black bean cakes with a crisp salad and sliced avocado? Serve with good bread and maybe some watermelon or mango for dessert. (FYI, the black bean cakes can totally be made ahead, you'd just need to reheat them in a pan.)

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: piccola
                          Discerning1 Jun 1, 2011 12:28 PM

                          Where is it boiling? Here in California's Monterey Bay Area it is chilly (June gloom from ocean flow). So the oven is not only an option, it may be a warming tool.

                          Tell more about a Dutch baby. Love the name!

                          1. re: Discerning1
                            piccola Jun 1, 2011 07:13 PM

                            Toronto. Major heat wave the past few days, though it looks like it's about to pass.

                            Dutch baby is basically a cross between a pancake and a popover. You make a thin batter and heat a buttered skillet in the oven, then pour the batter in the skillet and put the whole thing back in the oven. It puff up beautifully. Here's a basic recipe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                            1. re: Discerning1
                              LaLa Jun 2, 2011 06:58 AM

                              already hit a 100 two days here in south carolina!

                              Tomato pie would be lovely with a salad on the side

                              1. re: LaLa
                                Discerning1 Jun 2, 2011 07:17 AM

                                I remember tomato pie when I was in SC a couple of years ago. Such rich goodness.

                          2. s
                            smartie May 31, 2011 02:43 PM

                            how about a rocket salad dressed with a lemon dressing, and toasted baguette slices with a slice of goat's cheese just slightly warmed on top.

                            Quiches - they freeze if you need to make them in advance.

                            Spanakopitas, greek salad.

                            1. c
                              cheeseisheaven May 31, 2011 12:56 PM

                              A savory bread pudding, asparagus, greens mushrooms sharp cheddar...beautiful and delicious

                              1. e
                                escondido123 May 31, 2011 12:20 PM

                                Since you are willing to move beyond egg dishes, how about enchiladas? I do one with green sauce that has a filling of goat cheese, roasted corn and onions, and you could do the other with a red sauce and zucchini piccadillo filling. Refried beans on the side and you have a wonderful brunch. If you have drinks, you might want to serve Sangrita which is equal parts OJ and tomato juice, hefty splash of fresh lime juice and tequila as you see fit.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: escondido123
                                  Discerning1 May 31, 2011 12:32 PM

                                  Sounds fantastic and would be visually appealing. That's my problem with quiche and frittata...not much visual pizzazz.

                                  1. re: escondido123
                                    twilight goddess Jun 2, 2011 09:54 AM

                                    Butternut squash enchiladas with red bell peppers and Ancho chile sauce:

                                    I tried a new enchilada variation recently that was also stunning -- filling = roasted butternut squash with a little garlic and some blackened red bell peppers, plus the cheese of course. Sauce -- a fantastic red sauce with Ancho chiles or maybe Pasilla and a little toasty cumin and a splash of cream actually.

                                    Day before -- roast the squash for the filling and blacken your peppers (don't need to blacken, up to you). Grate the cheese. Make the sauce.

                                    Brunch morning -- assemble enchiladas and pop in oven. Refried black beans, yes, maybe a mango smoothie as a beverage.

                                    a guideline for the enchiladas (quesadillas here, adapted of course)


                                    idea for the sauce (definitely make the night before -- and don't use mayo. Instead go for a little half and half or sour cream or vegetable broth, even, until you get the consistency you like. Toast and grind the cumin seeds yourself if possible).


                                    1. re: twilight goddess
                                      Discerning1 Jun 2, 2011 10:18 AM

                                      Need a "like" button.

                                      1. re: Discerning1
                                        IndyGirl Jun 26, 2011 08:00 PM

                                        agree, the enchiladas sound excellent (sorry for posting in an old thread!)!

                                  2. k
                                    katecm May 31, 2011 11:06 AM

                                    Agreed with the others about strata. You can add any combination. Another good option is Ottolenghi's cauliflower cake, which is just a bit on the cakey side of a quiche. The flavor is awesome. http://smittenkitchen.com/2010/10/cau...

                                    1. mcel215 May 31, 2011 03:12 AM

                                      I've made Smitten Kitchen's Spinach and Gruyere Strata a few times and it gets raves. You can pull it out of the oven when you guests arrive. It should stand a good 20 minutes before serving.

                                      The recipe is on her website.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: mcel215
                                        GretchenS May 31, 2011 12:38 PM

                                        Second this, it's amazing. Add some extra spinach and also put it on a cookie sheet for both the overnight soak and the baking, I have had it overflow.

                                        Couple of other thoughts: Moosewood's mushroom strudel (absolutely key to use fresh dill), or spanakopita (just made Martha Stewart's Easy Spanakopita with extra feta and an added bunch of chopped scallions and it was really good).

                                        That grits with chanterelle ragu sounds very tasty!

                                        1. re: GretchenS
                                          Discerning1 Jun 1, 2011 12:30 PM

                                          Great ideasl Thank you.

                                        2. re: mcel215
                                          valerie Jun 1, 2011 11:04 AM

                                          I think this spinach and cheese strata from Epicurious is the same as Smitten Kitchen's. It is excellent.


                                        3. chicgail May 31, 2011 02:39 AM

                                          Load your strata up with with veggies. It doesn't need meat at all. Onions mushrooms, spinach or broccoli, even potatoes would be good.

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