How to Throw a Gluten-Free Brunch

brunch quiche

When you’re used to cooking without the word “gluten” even entering your brain, hosting gluten-free guests for brunch feels almost scary. For many gluten avoiders, eating the grain-based protein has serious health implications. Bagels are out. Same with French toast, English muffins, quickbreads, cinnamon buns, and croissants. And your favorite recipes for pancakes and waffles can have unpredictable results if you swap in an unfamiliar gluten-free flour blend. So forget all those doughy, batter-y foods and build a menu of dishes that steer clear of gluten naturally, like:

 
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  • Frittatas and Crustless Quiches: Frittatas—Italian baked omelets—let you play with cheeses, meats, and vegetables, and they offer flexible timing: They’re just as good at room temp as they are piping hot. In a similar vein, a crustless quiche combines a custard of egg and cream with your choice of cheese, vegetables, and/or pork products. Customize either for picky eaters by baking individual servings in ramekins.
  • Hash Brown It: A package of pre-shredded potatoes offers multiple main dish possibilities: Make a breakfast “pizza” by shaping a potato crust and baking that at 400°F for about 20 minutes. Top with cooked bacon, scrambled eggs, chopped bell pepper, and cheddar cheese, and return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes, until the cheese melts. Or go the individual-serving route: Put a layer of taters into the bottom and up the sides of a greased muffin tin and prebake, then top with cooked sausage or bacon, chopped vegetables, and eggs and cheese—bake another 10-15 minutes, until eggs are fully cooked. Option three goes all-the-way decadent: A hash brown casserole uses potatoes, vegetables, cheese, sour cream, and your choice of gluten-free cream soup to make a substantial, cozy meal.
  • Shak-shak-shak It Off: Shakshouka is a Middle Eastern dish of eggs baked in a zingy, sometimes spicy tomato sauce. It’s impressive and easy.
  • Cold Cereal Bar: Start with large bowls of gluten-free cereals (Chex makes seven different types! Plus two new granola offerings). Set out chopped fresh fruit (any berry would work, as would stone fruits, mango, and bananas), freeze-dried fruit (for a sweet, natural crunch), nuts, shredded coconut, various flavors and types of yogurt, and of course ice-cold milk (include at least one lactose-free option, and don’t be shy about serving flavored milks, too.) Make the kids extra-happy by adding mini-chocolate chips and mini-marshmallows to the lineup.
  • So Many Salads:  Yes, you can serve a green salad with brunch. And fruit salad is pretty much the first thing in the Brunch-Giver’s Handbook. Liven them up with herbs and spices—basil, parsley, chives, and tarragon work with countless vegetables, and a light sugar syrup with ginger and mint takes melon balls to 11 on the delicious meter.

 

Buyer Beware: Gluten appears in a lot of places you wouldn’t expect (hello, granola! howdy, veggie sausage!), so shop carefully—your guests’ health is at stake. Any processed foods, including all those mentioned above, must be labeled gluten-free. Celiac.org has compiled a good guide to ingredients, and don’t be afraid to double-check with the guest in question, who’ll be reassured by your diligence.

And here’s a bit of good news: Mimosas are naturally gluten-free.

What are your favorite gluten-free brunch-friendly recipes?


Image ©iStock.com/manyakotic


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