Before you whip out your cutting board and design your autumnal tablescape for the vegan brunch you’re hosting, consider the wording of your invites, whether it’s via text, email, Evite, phone call or that charming thing that comes on paper in the postal mail. Call your brunch “plant-based.” That’s a more friendly, forgiving term. Not everyone realizes how appetizing veganism can be.
You can win over your pro-meat friends with our tips by Chef Dianne de la Veaux, who was a strict vegan for five years and vegetarian after that. Those not hopping on the plant-based train will see how this kind of spread isn’t all tasteless greenish-beige kale and tofu. (Blech!)
“I think a lot of people eat vegan by accident at some meals. It’s when you put a label on it that makes it seem hard,” she says.
De la Veaux attended and taught at the plant-based cooking school Natural Gourmet Institute and worked at the celebrity hotspot vegan café, Candle 79 in Manhattan. These days, though, she occasionally eats animal products because she needs to taste what she’s cooking. De la Veaux is a private chef for families with different diets and a wife of an omnivorous husband.
Still, the options are endless, she says. “You can go the fake meat way or the whole foods route. Sometimes, I think fake sausage is delicious. It depends on your audience,” says de la Veaux.
Egg Substitutes for Eggy Dishes
Firm tofu has a remarkably similar texture to eggs and is the best substitute for quiches, casseroles, scrambles, and frittatas. De la Veaux has a vegan quiche on her brunch roster that uses soaked cashews and tofu as the egg substitute. “It’s very flavorful, and fills that eggy void,” she says. This Veganela quiche using phyllo dough as the crust is a versatile example of how good and easy a cashew-tofu blend can be as an egg substitute. Chickpea flour is a less common substitution for eggs, but you can make an omelet out of it, according to Forks Over Knives. Maybe not for your brunch. We recommend just sticking with tofu or non-egg dishes.
Baking Without Eggs
In baking, eggs are used as binders and thickeners. Chickpea flour works great in cookies, scones, biscotti, and cakes. To substitute, mix 3 tablespoons of chickpea flour with 3 tablespoons of water for each egg until thick and creamy, says My Darling Vegan. Applesauce and purees of pumpkin, bananas, and sweet potatoes work great for dense, moist items like quick breads and muffins. Three tablespoons for each egg does the trick. Flax and chia seeds are great too, for cookies, muffins, and breads. For each egg called for in a regular recipe, mix 1 tablespoon of seeds with 3 tablespoons of water until thick and creamy. Cornstarch acts as the thickener in our Vegan Jelly-Filled Muffins recipe. Put some fig jam or apple jelly inside to give it a fall taste.
“You can go the sweet route or the savory route,” says de la Veaux. “I like to have options for everyone to choose from so you don’t have to have one main dish that has to impress everyone.” Fall is full of root vegetables, sweet, sturdy squash, deep-dark greens. This Roasted Butternut Squash Kale Salad with Tahini Dressing is so good and filling it can feel like a main dish, but add a couple baked goods and fruit, and it won’t be.
How Sweet It Is
You can go crazy baking with fall fruits like apples, pears, figs, persimmons, and pomegranates. De la Veaux loves to make vegan cinnamon rolls using organic Earth Balance whipped buttery spread. Vegan Fatty adapts a cinnamon roll recipe from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s “Vegan Brunch” cookbook for an easy go-to, using nondairy milk for the dough and icing. Try some vegan pumpkin waffles or pancakes, such as the ones suggested by Minimalist Baker, and top with maple syrup and toasted pecans. You can also whip up your own topping using our Pomegranate Molasses-Maple Syrup recipe.
Do Both at Once
Go spicy-sweet with a great apple chutney draped over any kind of fried or roasted potato dish, like our Potato, Quinoa, and Cumin Hashbrowns, or sautéed bitter greens. This recipe from Nutmeg Nanny, guest-blogging on Baked by Rachel, uses dried cherries, ginger, and jalapenos in the chutney.
Coffee is a crowd pleaser for events before mid-afternoon, but not if you don’t get the good stuff. Spend a little extra on a locally roasted, sustainably sourced bean. Grind it yourself fresh that morning. You can make your coffee bar a little seasonal by setting out some pumpkin spice or cinnamon and nutmeg. And besides a few sweetener options, remember to offer different creamers, such as oat milk, coconut milk, or any other kind. A bunch of “mylks” are popping up, from flax and hazelnut to pea and cashew-almond blends. If you have a cappuccino maker, good for you. Whip out that sucker and get frothing. You get bonus points for latte art. Also lay out a variety of teas, especially fall-flavored ones with cinnamon, ginger, apple, or cranberry. Loose leaf is the best quality, but the tea in those pyramid-shaped bags are good too. Matcha, of course, is yet another fun offering.
Why not go even further with your coffee? Take it to the next level with this Spiked Coffee with Pumpkin Spice. It’s not store-bought pumpkin spice, but a homemade pumpkin spice liqueur you make a few days ahead of time with pureed pumpkin and rum. Or, “keep drinks simple with big batches,” de la Veaux says, like pitchers of Bloody Marys or mulled cider. Set out a selection of juices and Prosecco, or a fall twist on a mimosa with grapefruit, elderflower syrup, and pomegranate seeds. For hard-core vegans, you can check Barnivore for a guide on vegan and vegetarian beer, wine, and spirits.
Don’t Forget Pie
Sure, there are the usual suspects: pumpkin, pecan, and all that. But a vegan lemon meringue pie is a wow-worthy feat, and you can do it with aquafaba—the water leftover from a can of chickpeas. It’s magic. Pancake Princess has a recipe that calls for reducing the garbanzo brine on the stovetop, then chilling it in the fridge before whipping it into stiff peaks. Don’t feel like going all in? Just soften some fall fruit with sugar on the stovetop, wrap it in phyllo dough, and bake a bit. Add whipped coconut cream, and sprinkle cinnamon on top. Done.
You see, plant-based brunch in fall flavors is easy peasy. The meal can be more lunchy or breakfasty, depending on your needs. And time it later if you need to, even 1 p.m. “Brunch is my favorite meal to cook,” de la Veaux says. “You can do so much.”
Get more inspiration from The Best YouTube Cooking Shows for Vegans, and these vegan cookbooks.
Related Video: How to Make a Simple Vegetarian Soup
Header image courtesy of Vegangela.