Garden-Fresh Brunch Recipes

Fig flatbread, eggplant farro and squash pancakes bring in the best of the backyard.

Though the word "brunch" is technically a combination of breakfast and lunch, anything can go on the menu for this midday meal. Much like the leaves, seasonal menus are changing all over the country: Here are a few ways brunch is bringing in the best of the backyard this fall.

Fig Flatbread

Fig Flatbread

This savory flatbread makes a great slice-and-share addition to any brunch. 

Photo by: Photo by Kelly Pretsch

Photo by Kelly Pretsch

This savory flatbread makes a great slice-and-share addition to any brunch. 

What's a 90-year-old fig tree doing in the middle of Manhattan's trendy Soho neighborhood? Offering up a great pizza topping. At Delicatessen, executive chef Michael Ferraro makes flatbread dough and olive pesto from scratch and tops them with fresh ricotta and seasonal fruit. "One of my favorite comfort foods is pizza, and this places a more artisan take on the dish by using great ingredients like fresh ricotta and figs," he says.

Grilled Flatbread with Local Figs, Prosciutto, Ricotta and Pesto

By Michael Ferraro, executive chef/partner at Delicatessen, New York City

Flatbread dough

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ ounce dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 ¼ cups flour
  • Pinch of sea salt

Pour 1 cup warm water into a medium bowl, add sugar and sprinkle with yeast. Let stand until foamy, 5 minutes.

Whisk oil and 1 teaspoon salt into yeast mixture. Add flour and stir until liquid is incorporated—dough will appear dry. Turn out onto a floured work surface. Knead until dough comes together in an elastic ball, 2 minutes. Transfer to an oiled medium bowl and brush lightly with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm place until dough has doubled in bulk, in about 45 minutes. Punch down dough and cover; let rise another 30 minutes.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide into 4 equal pieces. Let rest 15 minutes before using.

Preheat grill to high. Roll each dough piece to a ¼-inch thickness. Drizzle with olive oil. Place dough on preheated grill until it begins to puff and char marks appear. This will take 2-3 minutes. Flip dough and repeat on opposite side.

Remove flatbread. Preparation of flatbread can be done up to 1 hour ahead.

Olive Pesto

  • ¼ cup green Cerignola olives (pitted)
  • 2 cups basil
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan

Toast pine nuts on a pan under medium heat for 3 minutes, shaking pan occasionally.

In a blender, combine olives with 1 cup basil, grated Parmesan cheese, 1 garlic clove, 3 tablespoons olive oil, pine nuts and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Blend to a semi-smooth consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

Assembly

  • 1 ¼ cup figs
  • ½ pound thinly sliced prosciutto
  • 1 cup good quality ricotta
  • 1 cup baby arugula
  • 1 teaspoon aged balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Sea salt and black pepper as needed

Preheat broiler to high. Spread ¼ amount of pesto on flatbread. Toss figs with olive oil, sea salt, black pepper and honey. Place 6-8 pieces of fig and 3 slices of prosciutto on flatbread. Dollop ¼ cup of ricotta throughout flatbread. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over flatbread.

Place flatbread under preheated broiler for 3 minutes, until figs soften and ricotta is melted.

Toss baby arugula with fresh lemon juice and aged balsamic vinegar. Scatter throughout flatbread, seasoning with sea salt and black pepper. 

Zucchini Pancakes

Zucchini Pancakes

Zucchini and goat cheese make an interesting addition to these pretty pancakes. 

Photo by: Image courtesy of Brookville Restaurant

Image courtesy of Brookville Restaurant

Zucchini and goat cheese make an interesting addition to these pretty pancakes. 

At Brookville Restaurant in Charlottesville, Virginia, chef Harrison Keevil puts a new spin on pancakes with his squash "short stack." "I love this dish because of its simplicity," he says. "It's composed of flavors you recognize, but it's presented in a way that's a little out of the ordinary."

Squash "Short Stack" with Goat Cheese and Maple Syrup

By chef Harrison Keevil, Brookville Restaurant, Charlottesville, Virginia 

Serves 4

  • 4 medium zucchini
  • 2 cups chopped scallion greens
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon goat cheese
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Grate zucchini with a cheese grater into a cloth. Ring as much liquid as you can out of the zucchini and place in a bowl. Mix in the scallion greens.

Add flour, salt and pepper and whisk until smooth.

Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Using an ice cream scooper, scoop batter into the pan. Gently cook until golden brown and then flip, about 3-4 minutes a side.

To serve, stack three pancakes on a plate, place a dollop of fresh goat cheese on top and drizzle with maple syrup. For a peppery contrast, serve with arugula.

Eggplant Farro

Eggplant Farro

Roasted eggplant and red peppers add a smoky flavor to this fall farro dish.

Photo by: Image courtesy of Great Performances Catering

Image courtesy of Great Performances Catering

Roasted eggplant and red peppers add a smoky flavor to this fall farro dish.

Pasta's a bit too heavy for brunch but farro, an ancient grain, makes a nice alternative. "The Italian farro has a nice nuttiness to it and a subtle crunch that gives it a great texture," says Liz Neumark, CEO of Great Performances Catering in New York City. "The Mediterranean-style preparation of the garden vegetables make this a light and healthy dish perfect for brunch." 

Dinah's Farro with Roasted Eggplant, Red Pepper and Olives

By Liz Neumark, CEO of Great Performances Catering, New York City

  • 1 ½ cups farro
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • ½ cup good kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Olive oil or cooking spray for coating
  • Salt
  • Grated Parmesan to finish (optional)
  • Shredded basil leaves for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a big pinch of salt and the farro, reduce heat to medium and cook the farro just until tender, about 30 minutes. 

Slice the eggplant into medium-thick slices, toss with olive oil or spray both sides lightly and evenly with vegetable cooking spray, and sprinkle with salt. Place the slices on a baking sheet and roast in the oven, turning once, until nicely browned on both sides, 10-15 minutes. 

Slice the peppers and toss with olive oil and salt. Place the slices on a baking sheet. Roast until shriveled and browned, about 10 minutes. 

When the eggplant and peppers are cool enough to handle, roughly chop them, taking care not to lose their juices. Toss the vegetables with the farro and stir in the chopped olives. 

Whisk the lemon juice with 4 tablespoons olive oil. Toss the farro and vegetables with ¼ cup of the dressing and let it sit for about 30 minutes before serving. Toss again with the remaining dressing, grate cheese over the top and sprinkle with the basil. 

Note: To turn this into an entrée, add about 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas or a regular-sized can, drained and rinsed, to the farro. Crumbled feta can be used instead of the Parmesan. The dish can be made ahead up to the final steps and refrigerated, then brought back to room temperature before serving. 

At Brookville Restaurant in Charlottesville, Virginia, chef Harrison Keevil puts a new spin on pancakes with his squash "short stack." "I love this dish because of its simplicity," he says. "It's composed of flavors you recognize, but it's presented in a way that's a little out of the ordinary."

Squash "Short Stack" with Goat Cheese and Maple Syrup

By chef Harrison Keevil, Brookville Restaurant, Charlottesville, Virginia

Serves 4

  • 4 medium zucchini
  • 2 cups chopped scallion greens
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon goat cheese
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Grate zucchini with a cheese grater into a cloth. Ring as much liquid as you can out of the zucchini and place in a bowl. Mix in the scallion greens.

Add flour, salt and pepper and whisk until smooth.

Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Using an ice cream scooper, scoop batter into the pan. Gently cook until golden brown and then flip, about 3-4 minutes a side.

To serve, stack three pancakes on a plate, place a dollop of fresh goat cheese on top and drizzle with maple syrup. For a peppery contrast, serve with arugula.

Pasta's a bit too heavy for brunch but farro, an ancient grain, makes a nice alternative. "The Italian farro has a nice nuttiness to it and a subtle crunch that gives it a great texture," says Liz Neumark, CEO of Great Performances Catering in New York City. "The Mediterranean-style preparation of the garden vegetables make this a light and healthy dish perfect for brunch." 

Dinah's Farro with Roasted Eggplant, Red Pepper and Olives

By Liz Neumark, CEO of Great Performances Catering, New York City

  • 1 ½ cups farro
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • ½ cup good kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Olive oil or cooking spray for coating
  • Salt
  • Grated Parmesan to finish (optional)
  • Shredded basil leaves for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a big pinch of salt and the farro, reduce heat to medium and cook the farro just until tender, about 30 minutes. 

Slice the eggplant into medium-thick slices, toss with olive oil or spray both sides lightly and evenly with vegetable cooking spray, and sprinkle with salt. Place the slices on a baking sheet and roast in the oven, turning once, until nicely browned on both sides, 10-15 minutes. 

Slice the peppers and toss with olive oil and salt. Place the slices on a baking sheet. Roast until shriveled and browned, about 10 minutes. 

When the eggplant and peppers are cool enough to handle, roughly chop them, taking care not to lose their juices. Toss the vegetables with the farro and stir in the chopped olives. 

Whisk the lemon juice with 4 tablespoons olive oil. Toss the farro and vegetables with ¼ cup of the dressing and let it sit for about 30 minutes before serving. Toss again with the remaining dressing, grate cheese over the top and sprinkle with the basil. 

Note: To turn this into an entrée, add about 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas or a regular-sized can, drained and rinsed, to the farro. Crumbled feta can be used instead of the Parmesan. The dish can be made ahead up to the final steps and refrigerated, then brought back to room temperature before serving. 

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