Mid-morning meals are a great way to entertain on the weekend. The food is usually cost-effective, the timing is family-friendly (no late nights for little kids), and the dress code can be nothing more than yoga pants and fluffy hoodies, if that’s what you’re comfortable in. Besides, how often is it totally acceptable to serve pancakes to your guests?
I have a standard spring brunch menu that I like to serve for such occasions. It’s a mostly make-ahead meal designed to feed six to eight people, but you could easily double your recipes if you have more guests in attendance.
Here’s a look at what I like to serve in the spring:
- Hash brown quiche with caramelized onions, spinach and cheddar cheese (recipe below)
- Mixed greens with almonds and mango poppy seed dressing
- Lemony lemon loaf
- Fresh fruit, including grapes, strawberries, sliced blood and navel oranges, and pink grapefruit wedges.
And here’s how I turn this into a mostly make-ahead meal:
- Make the lemon loaf, salad dressing and hash brown base a day in advance.
- On the day of your brunch, wash and slice the fruit, add the eggs and veggies to the pie and bake it, and toss the salad greens with the almonds (serve the dressing on the side).
It’s a meal made for sharing, regardless of how many people are at your table. It also happens to be mostly gluten-free (not the loaf, although I’m sure you could use gluten-free flour as a substitute in the recipe). I also happen to think this menu would make a mighty fine Easter morning meal, if you’re looking for a little inspiration in that department.
Tell us, what’s your favourite spring brunch menu item?
Hash Brown Quiche with Caramelized Onions, Baby Spinach and Cheddar
For the crust:
- 4 Tbsp melted butter, divided
- 2 large russet potatoes, peeled and grated
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
For the filling:
- 1 Tbsp canola oil
- 1 tsp butter
- 1 medium sweet onion, peeled and sliced
- 3 cups fresh baby spinach
- ¾ cup grated aged cheddar cheese
- 6 eggs
- 1 ½ cups light cream
Prep and Cook:
- Preheat the oven to 425°F degrees. Brush the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie plate with a tablespoon of the melted butter. Set aside.
- Place the grated potato on a clean tea towel, and squeeze it tightly to release the excess liquid.
- Transfer the potatoes to a medium bowl and add the egg, remaining butter, and 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Press the potato mixture into the prepared pan with your fingers, covering the bottom and sides evenly. Bake until the potatoes are set and golden brown, about 20 -25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
- While the potatoes are cooking, warm the canola oil and butter in a skillet set over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until some of the liquid is released. Lower the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for an additional 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the onions are caramel in colour. Season to taste with salt and pepper and transfer to a bowl.
- Add the baby spinach to the same skillet and cook until wilted, about 4 minutes. Reduce the oven heat to 350°F degrees.
- Spread the onions in an even layer over the potatoes. Top with the spinach and sprinkle with the grated cheddar cheese.
- Whisk together the eggs and cream and season with salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture into the pie plate. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the centre of the quiche is set and the quiche is slightly puffed and golden brown. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.
Good to Know:
Feel free to top the spinach layer with leftover chopped ham or crumbed bacon, if desired.