Recipes for a Vegetarian Brunch

A weekend brunch is an easy way to feed a few or many, and can be elaborate or easy. For the very easiest brunch, don’t even bother cooking! Buy an assortment of baked goods, breads, muffins, croissants, etc., set out some good cheeses, butter and jams, fruit, nuts, and yogurt, hot drinks or juice, and there you have a bounteous table of delicious foods with a minimum of effort. You can splurge on bagels, cream cheese, and smoked salmon, if you like, and all of the above can be brought potluck style to make the event even easier!

But if you want to cook, here are some recipes that easily feed a crowd. Use your nicest platters and bowls to present the repast in the most pleasing way. Abundance, along with variety in color, taste, and texture, will make your brunch a special event.

Tofu Hash
(8-12 or more servings)

4 cups chopped sweet peppers
10-12 cups chopped potatoes (approx. 1″ cubes)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. dried rosemary, crumbled
1 tsp. dried powdered sage
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
2 tsp. dried basil (or 2-4 Tbsp. fresh)
1 tsp. paprika
6-8 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 lbs. firm tofu

1. Preheat oven to 375°-400°.
2. In a 9 x 12 pan, stir together the vegetables with the olive oil, salt, pepper, rosemary, and sage.
3. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the vegetables are almost cooked. Stir halfway through, ideally with a metal spatula to turn the vegetables.
4. While the vegetables are cooking, mash the tofu with the remaining ingredients. Add to the vegetables and cook 15-20 minutes longer, or until the tofu is hot and slightly browned, and the vegetables are cooked.

Nancy Bellmer’s Baked French Toast
(12 or more servings)

10 eggs
Small amount of milk
Cinnamon, nutmeg, and/or ginger
Vanilla, almond, or maple extract
Maple syrup
Sliced fruit, if desired (apples, peaches)
Sliced bread

1. Preheat oven to 350°-375°
2. Beat together the eggs with milk, spices, and extract.
3. Grease bottom of 9 x 12″ pan with butter, then pour a thin layer of syrup on bottom. Sliced fruit can be placed on top of this if desired.
4. Pour in 1/4-1/3 of the egg mixture, then overlap sliced bread in the pan. Pour the rest of the egg mixture over the bread, so bread is just covered. Pour additional syrup on top.
5. Bake until eggs are set, about 30-45 minutes.
6. This can be served in the pan, or turned out (especially nice if you’ve used sliced fruit) onto a large platter.

Zucchini Frittata
(serves 12 or more)
A frittata is an Italian baked omelet. Good served hot or at room temperature. It can also be served as a first course: a square set on a lettuce leaf with a dollop of tomato sauce on top and a sprinkling of chopped parsley and/or black olives.

15 eggs
1 cup cream
Salt and pepper
2 large zucchini, grated, tossed with salt, then let sit 1/2-hour in a sieve
Olive oil
1 can black olives, chopped
1 red sweet pepper, chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh basil, or 1 tsp. dried
1-11/2 cups grated mild cheese
1/2-3/4 cup grated Parmesan
Bread crumbs
Sour cream, chopped olives, and red pepper for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 325°. Grease a large oval baking dish or a 9 x 12 pan and sprinkle bottom with breadcrumbs.
2. Beat together the eggs, cream, salt, and pepper.
3. Push the zucchini against the sieve to get out as much water as possible, or put in a dish towel and wring out the excess liquid.
4. Saute the zucchini and red pepper until tender in a frying pan coated with olive oil. Add olives and basil, and remove from heat and let cool. Add to egg mixture along with cheeses. Mix well. Pour into prepared pan.
5. Bake about 1 hour or until set.
6. To serve, slather top with sour cream and top with chopped olives and red peppers.

Three Corn Sweet Spoon Bread
(6-8 servings)
This is a cross between a cake and a pudding. It is adapted from a recipe from the El Torito Grill in California.

10 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
1 cup Masa Harina (corn flour)
6 Tbsp. cold water
1 16-oz. package frozen corn kernels,  thawed and chopped
1/2 cup sugar
6 Tbsp. yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease an 8 x 8 square baking dish.
2. Beat butter with mixer till fluffy. Add egg.
3. Gradually beat in corn flour, then water.
4. Stir in remaining ingredients. Place in greased dish. Cover with foil and bake for 50 minutes or until firm to the touch. Let stand 15 minutes. Cut into squares and serve warm.

Variation: Savory Version
Reduce sugar to 1/4 cup. Add cilantro, cumin, chopped roasted chilies or jala­ penos, and/or 1/4 cup grated cheddar or jack cheese with ingredients in step 4 above.

Tofu Quiche in Vegetable Crust
(6-8 servings)
All right, so it has no eggs or cheese—we can still call it a quiche! This is an unusual entree—you can flavor the tofu any way you please, depending on the menu and, of course, your own palate.

2 cups peeled and shredded or coarsely grated carrots
2 cups peeled and shredded or coarsely  grated parsnips
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup olive oil or melted butter
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
Extra oil or butter to brush on top

1. Combine all ingredients and mix well. Press into a greased 10″ pie plate. Make the edges high as they shrink during baking. (It will seem thick—that’s okay.)
2. Bake for 40 minutes at 375°. After 20 minutes of baking, brush the crust with extra melted butter or oil. Make filling while crust is baking.
3. Remove from oven and set aside.

1 pound soft or firm tofu
1 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. oil
3 tsp. Bragg’s Amino Acids* or soy sauce
1 small onion, minced, sauteed slowly till transparent and golden (optional)
1 Tbsp. thyme, dried or 2 Tbsp. fresh, minced (or season with cumin and toasted mustard seed, or chili powder, cilantro, and cumin)
4 medium zucchini, sliced into medium- thick rounds and steamed till tender but still firm
1/4 cup water or stock
Pinch of sugar, if not using onion

*Bragg’s Amino Acids is a non-fermented soy sauce substitute available at health food stores.

1. Put the tofu in the blender or food processor with the flour, oil, Bragg’s, herbs, and sugar or onions.
2. Spread 1/2 of the tofu on top of crust. Make a layer of zucchini slices. Then top with remaining tofu mixture.
3. Make a decorative pattern with zucchini slices on top—concentric overlapping circles are nice.
4. Bake at 350° for 1-11/4 hours, till a sharp knife inserted into middle of quiche come out clean and hot to the touch.
5. Let cool 10 minutes, then slice into wedges. It’s good hot or cold or at room temperature.

Quiche Variations
Crust: Use just parsnips or just carrots. Finely grate vegetables for a more standard-looking crust with a vegetable twist!
Fillings: Mexican—instead of thyme, season tofu with cilantro, cumin, and chili powder to taste.
Indian—Omit thyme and season tofu with mustard and cumin seeds sauteed in ghee and Vata Churna to taste.

Vegetables: Substitute any vegetables you’d like as long as they are cooked before you mix them into the quiche. Try spinach, broccoli, peppers, etc.