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3 brunch recipes that will make your palate blossom this spring

Fried eggs, asparagus, and oven-roasted chickpeas with olive oil toasted baguette. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)
Fried eggs, asparagus, and oven-roasted chickpeas with olive oil toasted baguette. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

Brunch has always seemed to me to be an indulgent idea. I am such a get-up-and-go kind of person that I found it hard to wrap my head around the idea of spending hours eating breakfast/lunch late on a weekend morning. Particularly in the early spring when there’s a garden to plant and so much to do.

But then I realized that indulgence is the point; it’s what brunch is all about. And it occurred to me that now, more than ever, we need to do things that slow us down, feed our soul, our bodies, our relationships. I know I’m late to this party; most of you have been on board with this long weekend morning meal for years! So here’s to a new way of looking at brunch as a way of celebrating the new season, with three new spring-focused recipes for any lazy weekend morning.

The first is a delicious play on fried eggs. Here the eggs are pan-fried in olive oil (until the edges get nice and crispy) and placed on top of a bed of lightly steamed spring asparagus. Chickpeas are oven roasted with spices until crispy and almost bursting. And a crunchy baguette is pan-fried in olive oil until golden brown. An egg dish that focuses on textures, color and big flavors.

Pancakes can feel like winter food unless they are full of fresh, bright flavors. These cakes focus on the bright acidic flavor of lemon (both the juice and zest) mixed with creamy ricotta cheese. The pancakes are light and fluffy and particularly gorgeous served with fresh spring berries and maple syrup.

And finally, a breakfast buttermilk biscuit, warm or room temperature, served with smoked salmon, lemon cream cheese, thin slices of cucumber and a green salad. Think of the biscuit as a kind of just-baked bagel substitute. It’s a winning combination.

Fried eggs, asparagus, and oven-roasted chickpeas with olive oil toasted baguette

Spears of spring asparagus are lightly steamed. An olive oil fried egg (or two) is placed on top and everything is surrounded by spiced, crunchy oven-roasted chickpeas. A dollop of Greek yogurt on top served with olive oil toasted baguette. Color. Crunch. Light. Satisfying.

Serves 2.

Ingredients

Fried eggs, asparagus, and oven-roasted chickpeas with olive oil toasted baguette. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

The spiced roasted chickpeas:

  • One 15-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 2 tablespoons virgin or extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
  • Dash dried hot chilis or hot pepper sauce


The asparagus:

  • About 10 asparagus, about ¾ pound, ends trimmed


The baguette, eggs and Greek yogurt:

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Two 3-inch pieces of baguette or crusty bread, cut in half lengthwise
  • 2 to 4 eggs (one or two per person)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • About 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt, sour cream or labneh


Instructions

  1. Roast the chickpeas: Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Place the chickpeas in a strainer and rinse under cold running water and drain thoroughly. Dry on a clean tea towel or paper towel. Place the dried chickpeas on a rimmed cookie or baking sheet or sheet pan and toss with the oil, a generous amount of salt and pepper, turmeric, paprika and chilis. Place on the middle shelf and roast for about 15 to 20 minutes, shaking the pan once or twice to distribute the chickpeas, until they are crisp and almost bursting. Remove from the oven.
  2. Cook the asparagus: In a large skillet bring about 4 cups of water to a boil over high heat. Add the asparagus and cook for about 4 to 6 minutes, depending on the thickness and freshness, until just cooked. Drain. Keep warm in a low 250-degree oven or covered.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the toast: In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the bread, cut side down, and cook for about 2 to 4 minutes, or until the toast is golden brown. Remove.
  4. In the same skillet, heat the remaining 1 ½ tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the eggs and fry for about 1 to 1 ½ minutes or until they begin to crisp along the edges, spooning the oil over the eggs as they cook. Gently flip and cook for about 30 seconds on the other side, spooning the oil on top.
  5. To serve: Divide the asparagus between two plates. Top with the fried egg(s) and sprinkle half the chickpeas around the eggs and asparagus on each plate. Serve with a dollop of yogurt on top of the eggs and the olive oil toast on the side.

Lemon ricotta pancakes

Lemon ricotta pancakes. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

A perfect ode to spring: These light, fluffy, lemon-spiked pancakes are creamy with ricotta and bright with lemon juice and lemon zest. Plan on letting the batter sit for about 15 minutes for really fluffy cakes. Serve with maple syrup, fresh berries, crisp bacon (if you like) and hot coffee and tea.

Makes 8 three-inch pancakes, serves 2 to 3.

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup, plus 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • ⅓ cup milk or buttermilk
  • 1 ½ teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, from the lemon you zested
  • Maple syrup and berries for serving


Instructions

  1. In two medium bowls, separate the eggs and place the yolks in one bowl and the whites in another.
  2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
  3. In another large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, sugar and salt.
  4. In the medium bowl with the yolks, whisk the yolks with the ricotta, milk, lemon zest and lemon juice. Add 2 tablespoons of the melted butter.
  5. Using a handheld mixer, beat the egg whites until almost stiff. They should not appear “wet,” but do not need to be completely stiff. Soft peaks are what you’re looking for.
  6. Fold the yolk/ricotta mixture into flour. Gently fold in the whipped egg whites until just incorporated. Let the batter sit for 15 minutes.
  7. Heat the remaining tablespoon of butter still in the skillet over medium heat. Make the pancakes by adding about ¼ cup batter and cook for about 4 minutes, or until bubbles form and the pancake appears golden brown along the edges. Gently flip and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes on the other side, until golden brown and no longer “wet.”

Buttermilk biscuits with lemon cream cheese, smoked salmon and cucumbers

Serve the biscuits warm or at room temperature with a lemon-chive cream cheese, thin slices of smoked salmon, thinly sliced cucumbers, a watercress or arugula salad, and lemon wedges and capers on the side.

The biscuits can be made, cut, wrapped and frozen for up to a month. Bake them straight from the freezer for about 28 minutes.

Makes 10 biscuits; serves 5 to 10.

Ingredients

The buttermilk biscuits:

Buttermilk biscuits with lemon cream cheese, smoked salmon and cucumbers. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

2 ½ cups (300 grams) flour, plus more for dusting

  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk mixed with 2 teaspoons lemon juice that sits for 10 to 20 minutes)
  • About ¼ cup heavy cream for brushing
  • The lemon cream cheese:

    • 1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
    • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
    • 2 tablespoons chopped chives or finely chopped scallions
    • Freshly ground black pepper


    The smoked salmon and garnishes:

    • 1 pound smoked salmon
    • Capers, very thinly sliced red onion, thinly sliced cucumbers, watercress or arugula, lemon wedges


    Instructions

    1. Make the biscuits: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
    2. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture until the butter cubes are the size of small peas. Pour the buttermilk over the flour mixture and mix with a wooden spoon until just combined. Working on a lightly floured surface, knead until a shaggy dough forms.
    3. Shape the dough into a rectangle. Fold it in half and then fold in half again. Repeat this folding 2 or 3 more times, for a total of 5 to 6 folds. The folding increases layers and a light, buttery biscuit.
    4. Using a well-floured rolling pin, gently roll the dough into a 10 x 8 inch rectangle about ½-inch thick. Use a 2 ½ inch biscuit cutter, sharp knife, or pizza wheel and cut out 8 biscuits. Gather the scraps and roll them into a rectangle about ½-inch thick and cut out 2 more biscuits; you should have 10 biscuits.
    5. Place a large 12-inch cast iron or heavy ovenproof skillet into the preheat oven for 10 minutes. (If you only have a 10-inch skillet, use that and you’ll only add 8 biscuits at a time and bake the remaining 2 biscuits on a cookie sheet.) Remove and very carefully (the skillet should be quite hot) place the biscuits into the hot skillet placing them right up next to each other with one or two in the center. Brush the biscuits with the heavy cream.
    6. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown.


    Let cool for a minute or two and then carefully separate the biscuits.

    Meanwhile, make the lemon cream cheese. In a bowl mix the softened cream cheese, lemon zest, chives and pepper and set aside.

  • Serve hot, or room temperature with the cream cheese, salmon and any or all or any of the garnishes.
  • This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

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