What happens when brunch goes vegan? While egg dishes might be the first thing you think of for this meal, brunch makes an awesome venue for entertaining fellow vegans. As a bonus, it’s also an excellent way to introduce non-vegans to the deliciousness of plant-based dishes − you might find your guests relishing the food more than usual knowing that it comes with a nutritious pedigree.
New to vegan entertaining? Here are some brunching tips for successful events, plus some praise-worthy recipes for inspiration.
Vegan Brunch 101
How many dishes should you serve? A main plate with two offerings − such as a hot casserole and a simple salad − can be a starting point. Adding a baked good like muffins or a quick bread is nice, as is a signature drink (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) to pour besides coffee and tea. A sweet will give your meal added finesse, whether it’s as easy as fresh fruit or a more substantial dessert.
You don’t need to limit yourself to strict “breakfast” dishes. Branching out to salads, grains and other savories will add interest and balance to your menu.
Choose a combination of hot and cold offerings for the most variety and easiest to-the-table timeline.
Have a small pitcher of non-dairy milk or creamer on the table for those who take coffee or tea light. I like coconut-almond milk in coffee because of its natural richness, but any number of other products are great too. (See below for some fresh nut milks you can even make yourself!)
Remember that honey isn’t considered vegan; a great replacement is agave nectar, delicious in tea and in baked goods.
Overwhelmed? Outsource! Guests often offer to contribute a dish, so have a few ideas on hand if they do. And if baking isn’t your thing, peruse the growing field of prepared vegan baked goods – you might be surprised at the quality and variety on the market.
A make-ahead dish is a winner for brunch, letting you do some of your prep up to a day ahead. Two classic options for making your morning more relaxing: Vegan Brunch Bread Pudding, featuring smoky tempeh and spring asparagus; and Tofu and Broccoli Quiche, made with a wonderful base of tofu, tahini and miso. The quiche can be baked the night before and reheat in 275 degree oven just before serving.
For a less traditional main course, try Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas, a fun riff on brunch that can be assembled the day ahead, and then just brought to room temperature and baked. Ditto Roasted Bell Peppers Stuffed with Quinoa, a great dish flavored with a savory combination of cinnamon, cumin and cashews.
Okay with a little last-minute prep? Vegan Almond French Toast will have your crowd swooning, and adding a garnish of fresh berries will put it over the top. Dairy-free Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancakes are another brunch winner, and you can make them vegan by replacing the honey called for with agave syrup.
Having a non-dairy lightener for coffee or tea is a must for vegan brunch. There are a terrific number on the market these days, but you can also make your own. Two excellent options are Homemade Cashew Milk and Homemade Hazelnut Milk; you can make them a few days ahead and even use them in vegan recipes.
Want to add another beverage to join the standard coffee and tea? This will be particularly welcome if you’d like to make a celebratory toast part of your meal. The champagne and orange juice mimosa is a classic, but if you’ll like to shake things up a bit you’ll get an enthusiastic reaction with Cardamom-Carrot Sparkling Cocktails, a recipe that can be easily scaled up for your group. And you can’t go wrong with Pink Wine Punch, a gorgeous punch that’s great for a big group.
Vegan Baked Goods
A basket or large bowl lined with a tea towel and filled with home-baked (or store-bought) treats is a brunch tradition. Easy to make Coconut Oil Biscuits are an incredibly tender, tasty alternative to Southern-style biscuits. For a great muffin recipe, just replace the honey with agave syrup in these Whole Wheat Cornbread Muffins and you’ll have a wonderful savory treat–they’re ideal with fruit preserves. Or try Fresh Fig Focaccia, a recipe that uses prepared pizza dough as a shortcut; you can substitute halved grapes, fresh raspberries or blackberries, or even thinly sliced apple if you can’t find fresh figs.
Looking for something to really set your meal apart? Vegan Deviled Eggs are a whimsical take on a comfort-food classic and make a starter that’ll get your guests talking. Eggplant ‘Bacon’, a terrific blend of smoky, savory flavors, will garner a lot of attention as well. And if brunch just isn’t brunch for you without Hollandaise, there’s a terrifically creamy, fool-proof version: Vegan ‘Hollandaise’ Sauce; a tasty sauce you can make several days ahead and reheat gently over low heat. Drizzle it over steamed asparagus or roast potatoes or serve it as a gravy for tofu or grain dishes.
Does your idea of a perfect meal end with something sweet? Brunch gives you the chance to go as simply or as decadently as you like. Any fresh fruit in season is really all you need, but venturing beyond that can be very satisfying. Summer Berry Salad with Mint Sugar is easy and packed with flavor, or you can take berries in a chocolate direction with Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries. For a grander dessert you can’t go wrong with Raspberry Vegan Cheesecake Bites, an incredibly smooth and rich treat. And for pure chocolate bliss you can’t beat Vegan Mocha Pie, an inspired dessert packed with great flavors and wonderful dairy-free ingredients. And a final word of dessert advice: Whatever you serve, try wowing your guests with Whipped Coconut Cream — a truly fantastic three-ingredient recipe.
Got your own vegan favorites? Tell us more!