Keeping holiday brunches festive with light, flavorful dishes.
What do you do after you’ve attended the holiday happy hour, the holiday dinner and the late-night holiday party? You go home, sleep it off and start over the next day with a holiday brunch, of course.
Restaurants roll out the winter favorites for brunch this time of year, and it’s not all chocolate waffles and candy cane crumble pancakes. Light, delicious options abound for those looking to begin the day on a healthy note—saving the real decadence until after sunset.
At Baptiste & Bottle in Chicago, brunch guests seeking lighter dishes can skip the meat options and go for the tofu skillet.
“I tend to put it on the menu during fall and winter,” says Emilio Gonzalez, executive chef. “It reflects the season. I’ll serve it with bok choy as well as roasted kabocha squash and toasted pumpkin seeds.”
The seasonal treatment can also be given to one of the more contemporary brunch favorites: avocado toast.
“Our avocado toast is really refreshing, made with a lot of vegetables and topped with a mini salad of arugula and mixed greens,” he adds. “In the fall and winter, I’ll incorporate shishito peppers because you can get a really nice char on them without them getting bitter, and they add great flavor and texture.”
Even a comfort food classic like quiche can be a unique vehicle for your daily vegetables, says Caroline Markham, general manager of Boston’s Eastern Standard.
“We have an amazing quiche available during brunch that’s very simple, and it’s the crust that makes it great because it’s just buttery and flaky enough,” Markham says. “We do it simply with mushroom, spinach and gruyere, and in the fall, we might do sweet potato and goat cheese.”
Greg Biggers, the executive chef at Margeaux Brasserie in Chicago’s Waldorf Astoria hotel, believes that even the most basic healthy brunch staple, the grapefruit half, can be made more interesting.
“Located in a hotel, we get a lot of people who order grapefruit, but I wanted to make it more modern,” Biggers says. “We take grapefruit, segment it out, toss it with a little mint gastrique and blueberries, and serve it with passionfruit yogurt and a little shot of fresh squeezed grapefruit juice.”
The result is both elegant and familiar.
“We’re trying to rework something so classic as half a grapefruit without making it into something else,” he says. “It’s more interesting and fun for the guest.”