If picnics have fast become the high point of your week, try these brunch recipes: they’re perfect for packing up and taking to the park on a sunny weekend morning.
Hands up who’s missing their usual weekend brunch ritual? Yep, us too. But now that we’re officially allowed to have picnics again – with up to six people from different households, as long as we maintain social distancing measures – we can have a go at recreating the best meal of the day in our local park.
First things first: the food. It’s worth checking if your usual go-to brunch spot is currently doing deliveries, as there’s a strong chance they could do with your support right now. But if you want to DIY, you’ll need sharing-friendly dishes that can be transported with minimal risk of leaking or collapsing. Try Melissa Hemsley’s sturdy veg-packed frittata, Katy Beskow’s Greek-style tomato fritters or even James Rich’s apple and banana bircher (which can be easily stowed in a jar).
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To make your outdoor brunch even more special, order some drinks online that feel like the kind of thing you’d be served in a restaurant. The Pickle House’s Spiced Tomato Mix makes for a seriously good virgin or bloody mary – no extra Worcester or Tabasco sauce required. And if you’re craving a professional-grade caffeine hit, crack open a chilled can of Bottleshot Brew’s new Cold Brew Coffee. Stylist’s food editor Jenny Tregoning particularly rates the oat milk version, which she says is “almost chocolatey and very smooth – and not overpowering, considering it’s got two shots in it”.
Below, you’ll find culinary inspiration in the form of five brunch recipes that are just begging to be taken to the park. Happy feasting!
Katy Beskow’s Santorini tomato fritters
Katy says: “If you’ve been lucky enough to visit a Greek island, it’s likely that you’ve sampled authentic tomato fritters, originating from the beautiful island of Santorini. Some varieties contain fresh mint or basil, but I love the burst of flavour that flat-leaf parsley adds.
“The key to perfect fritters is hot oil: if the oil isn’t hot enough, the fritters will be soggy. Test the oil by dropping a small amount of the mixture into the pan; if it turns golden within a few seconds, the oil is ready. Serve hot with cool unsweetened soya yogurt to dip, and a wedge of lemon to squeeze over – perfect with a leafy green salad.”
Serves 2 generously
- 3 tbsp plain (all-purpose) flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 300g (10oz) cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped
- handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- pinch of sea salt and black pepper
- 4 tbsp sunflower oil
In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and dried oregano.
Stir in the tomatoes and flat-leaf parsley, then season with sea salt and black pepper. Add 50ml (2fl oz) cold water and stir to form a thick batter.
Heat the oil in a frying pan until hot. Add in tablespoons of the batter (up to four at a time, to avoid the fritters touching and merging) and cook for 1 minute until golden and crisp, then carefully flip the fritters and cook on the other side.
Drain on paper towels or a clean dish towel, then repeat the cooking process until all of the batter has been used.
From Five Ingredient Vegan by Katy Beskow (£20, Quadrille), out now
Melissa Hemsley’s fridge-raid frittata recipe
Melissa says: “The beauty of a frittata is that anything goes – really, it does! In this case, broccoli is the star, but let whatever is in your fridge take the lead. Always aim for some green as it’s often the green veg that most of us could do with more of. Not only is a vegetable frittata an easy and delicious way to start your day, but in this case you eat the whole broccoli in all its glory – stems and stalks – and, even better, everything happens in the same pan.
“If you’ve got cooked broccoli ready to go, then skip step 1 and save time. And if you know you’ll be rushing out the door a lot this week, bake it in a 12-hole muffin tray at fan 170°C/Gas mark 5 for 10–15 minutes for a grab-and-go breakfast or snack.”
Feeds 4, takes 20 mins
- 1 large head of broccoli, florets evenly chopped and stem finely chopped
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp butter
- 10 eggs
- 2 large handfuls of grated cheese (I use mature Cheddar or you could use crumbled feta or goat’s cheese)
- Sea salt and black pepper
- A handful of chopped fresh basil, parsley, chives or celery leaves
- Chilli flakes, to taste
- 2 handfuls of wild garlic, chopped (when in season)
Grab a medium-sized, deep-sided frying pan and steam the broccoli for 3 minutes in about 4 tablespoons of water, lid on, until almost tender and just turned bright green. Drain any excess liquid (though the broccoli will probably absorb it all) and set the broccoli aside.
Pop the pan back on the heat and gently fry the red onion rings and garlic in the butter for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk the eggs together in a bowl, add salt, pepper and the cheese, plus any of the herbs, chilli flakes or wild garlic, if using.
Preheat the grill to high. Add the broccoli back to the pan to coat in the garlic butter, then pour in the egg mix, stirring so that the broccoli and onions are distributed evenly. Let the bottom and sides cook and start to set over a medium heat for about 5 minutes.
Pop the frittata under the grill for a further 5 minutes until golden on top and just cooked through (give the pan a wobble to check), then slide it onto a chopping board or plate. Cool for 10 minutes and slice up into quarters.
From Eat Green by Melissa Hemsley (£22, Ebury Press), out now
Katy Beskow’s spinach pancakes with cream cheese and chives
Katy says: “Who doesn’t love a pancake? Blending spinach into the batter gives the pancakes a gorgeous green hue, which little diners just love too. I often serve them with a lemon wedge for squeezing over.
“Vegan cream cheese is available from most supermarkets – there are so many brands and varieties to choose from, so try them all and decide which is your favourite!”
Serves 2 generously (makes about 6)
- 100g (31⁄2oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
- 180ml (6fl oz) unsweetened soya milk, chilled
- generous handful of spinach
- generous pinch of sea salt and black pepper
- 6 tbsp sunflower oil
- 3 heaped tbsp vegan cream cheese
- small handful of chives, very finely chopped
Add the flour, soya milk, spinach leaves and sea salt to a high-powered jug blender or food processor and blitz until you have a smooth green batter.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a frying pan over a medium–high heat. Test if the oil is hot by adding a drop of the pancake batter to the pan; if it sizzles and becomes golden within 30 seconds, the oil is at the optimum temperature.
Add about a ladleful of batter to the pan to make one pancake, swirling the batter around the pan to coat the base evenly.
When the pancake becomes slightly crisp after 2–3 minutes, carefully flip it onto the other side and cook for a further 2–3 minutes. Drain on paper towels and keep warm while you cook the remaining pancakes, adding a tablespoon of oil to the pan each time.
In a small bowl, stir together the vegan cream cheese and the chives. Spread or spoon the cream cheese onto the pancakes and serve, sprinkled with a few extra chopped chives, if you like, and a pinch of black pepper.
From Five Ingredient Vegan by Katy Beskow (£20, Quadrille), out now
James Rich’s apple and banana bircher
James Rich says: “This is the perfect, no-hassle yet delicious and healthy breakfast that can be prepared overnight ready to grab and go. I love this made with coconut yoghurt but you can easily swap for your favourite alternative, and top with nutty apple granola and either apple and vanilla compôte or crab apple and blackberry jam.”
Preparation: 10 mins + overnight chilling
- 1 sharp, green eating (dessert) apple, such as Granny Smith, cored and grated (shredded)
- 50 g (2 oz/¼ cup) rolled oats
- 50 g (2 oz/heaped ⅓ cup) mixed seeds and nuts, toasted (hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds and pecans is my favourite combination)
- 100 g (3½ oz/scant ½ cup) coconut yoghurt
- 20 g (¾ oz) raspberries
- 20 g (¾ oz/scant ¼ cup) sultanas (golden raisins)
- 1 banana
Mix the apple, oats and half the seed and nut mix into the coconut yoghurt and refrigerate overnight.
Take the yoghurt and apple mix out of the refrigerator, stir in the raspberries and divide into two bowls or jam jars.
Top with the sultanas and the rest of the nuts and seeds, slice the banana over the top and you’re ready to go!
Apple: Recipes from the Orchard by James Rich (£20, Hardie Grant) is out now
Dishoom’s bacon naan roll
Dishoom says: “Our bacon naan roll has something of a cult following; it must surely be our signature breakfast dish. The freshly cooked naan is graced with a little cream cheese, tomato-chilli jam and fresh coriander, and wrapped around a few rashers of smoked streaky bacon. Make sure you prepare all the ingredients for the filling before the naan hits the pan.
Use good-quality flavoursome bacon – or sausages or eggs for the alternative fillings (see below). A combination of bacon or sausage with an egg makes a first-class filling.”
For the roll
1 quantity naan dough
For the filling
- 4 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
- 1 tsp full-fat cream cheese (Philadelphia)
- 8 coriander leaves
- A pinch of finely chopped green chilli (optional)
- 1 tsp tomato-chilli jam (page 59), plus extra for dipping
Follow the below naan recipe up to and including the stage where you roll out the dough. (If you’re making more than one naan roll, roll out as many naans as you need, keeping them on the oiled surface while you roll the others.)
Grill or fry the bacon until the fat is nicely crisped.
Cook the naans (see below).
To assemble, spread the cream cheese across the cooked naan and top with coriander leaves. Add the cooked bacon rashers and scatter over the chopped green chilli, if using.
Drizzle with tomato-chilli jam, fold the naan in half to enclose the filling and eat immediately, with extra tomato-chilli jam on the side for dipping.
Sausage naan roll: Prepare as above but for the filling, instead of bacon, grill or fry 2 good-quality sausages until nicely sizzled and cooked through, then slice them in half lengthways. Assemble as above.
Egg naan roll: Prepare as above but for the filling, instead of bacon, fry 2 free-range eggs in a little oil until the white is cooked and the yolks still runny. Assemble as above.
Dishoom says: “At Dishoom, every naan is baked by hand, to order. And the truth is, unless you have a tandoor oven to hand, making naan at home will not be easy. The temperature in a tandoor can reach almost 500°C, twice what can be achieved in a domestic oven. These instructions, however, will allow you to give home-made naans a go. They won’t be as soft and fluffy as tandoor naans, but they’ll still be gratifying. If you have a ceramic barbecue and a pizza stone, you can use them to bake your naan – just make sure the barbecue is as hot as it can (safely) be.
The dough can be prepared in advance, but must be stored in the fridge and allowed to return to room temperature before cooking. Naans take a little effort to knead and some time to rest, but then cook in under a minute. You will need a large heavy-based frying pan that is suitable to use under the grill. Naan goes well with all kinds of grills, curries and salads. It is also used to make our bacon naan roll and variations.”
- 560g maida flour, plus extra for dusting
- 10g fine sea salt
- 5g baking powder
- 8g caster sugar
- 150ml milk
- 1 large egg
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra for oiling
- Melted butter, for brushing
Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the centre.
Put the baking powder, sugar, milk, 135ml water and the egg into a large jug and whisk to combine. Pour into the well in the flour mixture and gradually draw in the flour with a round-bladed knife. Then knead with your hands to a soft, smooth dough; this should take about 5 minutes. The dough will be quite soft and slightly sticky as you knead it, so you may want to dust your hands with a little flour before you begin. Set the dough aside to rest for 10 minutes.
Trickle the 1 tbsp oil over the surface of the dough, then knead aggressively for 30 seconds, thoroughly squashing the oil into the dough. Bring the dough back to a neat, smooth ball and place in a clean bowl. Drape a clean, damp tea towel gently over the surface of the dough and leave to rest for 2 hours.
When the resting time is up, take a 70g piece of dough, roll it into a neat ball and place on an oiled baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the dough, then cover with cling film and leave to rest for a further 30 minutes.
Lightly oil an area of clean work surface. Take a ball of dough and flatten it into a round on the oiled surface, then roll into an oval, about 2mm thick, using oil rather than flour to prevent sticking, if necessary. Allow the naan to rest for 1 minute.
When you are ready to cook the naan, turn the grill to its highest setting. Position the grill rack so that your frying pan will be close to the heat source, but not so close that the dough touches it when it puffs up. Have a clean tea towel ready to one side. Heat a large heavybased frying pan (suitable to use under the grill) over your highest heat on the hob, as hot as it will go.
Lay the naan in the hot pan. Count to 20, then place the pan under the grill. The naan should puff up and brown in patches in about 30 seconds. Be vigilant: you should let it colour a little, but remove it from the pan before it becomes crispy. When you remove the naan from the pan, wrap it in the tea towel, so that it softens in its own steam for a minute or so before serving.
Place the empty pan back over the hot hob to reheat for the next naan. Continue until you’ve cooked all the naan. Brush with melted butter and serve while still warm.
Note: To store cooked naans, leave to cool in the tea towel, then keep in an airtight plastic bag for up to 2 days. To reheat, rub them with wet hands to moisten slightly, then place in the toaster or under a grill for a couple of minutes.
Crispy sesame & onion seed naan: Roll the dough as thinly as possible. Top each rolled naan with 1 tsp black sesame seeds and ½ tsp onion seeds, pressing them in with your fingers. Cook for a little longer than above, until crispy.
Garlic naan: Roll the dough into rounds. Sprinkle each with ½ tsp finely chopped garlic and 1 tsp finely chopped coriander leaves, pressing them in with your fingers. Cook and serve as above.
Cheese naan: For each naan, you will need 15g grated cheddar, ½ tsp finely chopped green chilli and 1 tsp finely chopped spring onion. Mix together in a bowl. Take a ball of dough in the palm of your hand. Using your other hand, flatten the dough into a disc. Pinch the edges, using your forefinger and thumb, to create a well in the centre surrounded by slightly thinner edges. Press the cheese filling into the well and crimp the edges of the dough together around the filling to seal it in, then carefully work back into a ball shape. Leave to rest for 5 minutes. Roll the stuffed dough ball into a round flatbread, 3–4mm thick. Cook as above, but allow about twice as long under the grill; the naan should still puff up, even with the filling inside. Wrap in a clean tea towel for 1 minute before serving.
Copyright © Shamil Thakrar, Kavi Thakrar & Naved Nasir 2019
Dishoom: From Bombay with Love by Shamil Thakrar, Kavi Thakrar & Naved Nasir (£26, Bloomsbury) is out now
Photography: © Luke Albert; Philippa Langley; Haarala Hamilton; Jacqui Melville