I almost never go out to brunch. This is in large part because doing so in New York—especially as the weather warms up a bit and sidewalk tables reappear—is something akin to an endurance sport, requiring extensive conditioning in the skills of waiting in line, squeezing through tightly packed crowds with a sloshing Bloody Mary in each hand, and patiently vying for your frazzled waiter's attention as she tries to wrestle the needs of 12 overflowing tables of boisterous 30-somethings.
While all of that strikes me as less than appealing, I still have a huge soft spot for brunch at home: I love typical brunch foods like frittatas and scrambles, and, on weekends, I have no problem with eating my first meal at noon. In most places, the first specimens of spring produce are just starting to hit the farmers markets now, which means you've got an expanding arsenal of ingredients with which to brighten up your meals: grassy, tender shoots of asparagus, sweet green peas, and coveted morel mushrooms. Set aside some time on a Saturday or Sunday morning to browse your local market's offerings, then take your haul home and put it to use right away with one of these 12 fresh, inviting brunch main dishes.
Asparagus and Sweet Pea Frittata With Minty Spring Salad
A frittata is a great easy brunch solution, since you can make it with whatever ingredients you have on hand, but it's still elegant enough to serve company. We use chopped asparagus shoots and green peas to make a frittata that's perfect for the first warm spring weekend, and serve it with a salad of raw shaved asparagus, mint leaves, and pea tendrils. (If you can't find the latter, any light, tender green will work as well.)
Ricotta Gnocchi With Asparagus and Prosciutto
For a somewhat heartier way to use your fresh asparagus, try this dish of ricotta gnocchi with salty prosciutto, asparagus shoots, and a light cream sauce. Although potato-based gnocchi are known for requiring a little practice, the ricotta variety is ridiculously easy. True story: I once made this dish with one wrist completely immobilized in a splint. You have no excuse not to give it a try.
Spring Salad of Asparagus, Ramps, Snap Peas, and Peas With Poached Egg and Lemon Zest Vinaigrette
Four of the season's most eagerly anticipated vegetables—asparagus, ramps, snap peas, and English peas—come together in this crisp green salad, but feel free to throw in any other fresh green produce you've got, too. It's dressed in a tangy lemon vinaigrette and, to make it a complete meal, topped with a soft white orb of poached egg. Jittery about getting that egg right? Use Kenji's strainer method to get perfect poached eggs every time.
Cheesy Grits With Spring Vegetables
If you prefer to take your veggies with a hefty dose of cheese and butter—what is brunch for, after all?—a bowl of sharp cheddar– and Parmesan-loaded grits may do the trick. Balance out the richness by adding fresh chives, tarragon, and parsley, then spoon on the season's bounty: asparagus, fava beans, English peas, snap peas, and morels. Just don't forget the egg on top.
Morel Mushroom Tartine With Chives
While morel mushrooms are delicious prepared in all sorts of ways, a simple sauté will allow their earthy flavor to stand out. Here, we sauté them in oil, then stir in chicken stock, soy sauce, lemon juice, butter, and herbs to make a creamy sauce. Pile the mushrooms on toast and finish with some good olive oil and chopped chives for a satisfying brunch dish.
Asparagus Tartine With Ricotta and Mint
For another light tartine option, try topping your toast with chopped blanched asparagus, paired with mild, creamy ricotta, bright mint leaves, and freshly cracked black pepper. Be sure to shock the asparagus in ice water after blanching so it doesn't overcook, and, whatever you do, don't throw good asparagus after bad cheese—look for a high-quality, stabilizer-free brand of ricotta.
Sautéed Asparagus With Chorizo, Fried Eggs, and Smoked Paprika Allioli
For this Spanish-inspired dish, we fry eggs over high heat in a mixture of rendered chorizo fat and extra-virgin olive oil, giving them brown, crispy edges that contrast beautifully with the golden yolk. Sautéed asparagus and a sprinkling of diced chorizo make it complete. Serve it with allioli, a mayonnaise-based sauce flavored with garlic and smoked paprika, on the side.
Mushrooms, Bacon, and Asparagus Topped With Eggs
Everyone loves the idea of bacon-wrapped asparagus—it looks adorable on a serving dish, and, hey, bacon-wrapped! But it's also a deeply flawed concept, because it's essentially impossible to properly cook both ingredients together. We solve that problem for this robust dish by cooking them separately, which ensures crispy bacon and asparagus that's just tender enough but not mushy. The two are wonderful served with sautéed button mushrooms and capped off (naturally) with a fried egg.
Mushroom and Gruyère Eggs en Cocotte
Eggs en cocotte sounds oh-so-fancy, but all it refers to is eggs baked in individual ramekins until just set—it's the sort of preparation that's simultaneously impressive and easy. It also takes well to jazzing up with any number of added ingredients; here, we cook each egg on a bed of mushroom duxelles and melt Gruyère cheese over the top.
Baked Eggs in Avocado Cups With Feta and Mint
What could be more darling than serving baked eggs in little individual round dishes? Serving them in little individual avocado halves—which also scores practicality points for supplying a ready-made edible vehicle to mix with the egg yolk and usher more of it into your mouth. Simply crack each egg directly into the hollow of an avocado half and bake until they're set. We warm up some naan right underneath the avocado—perfect for scooping everything up—and top them with a garnish of feta cheese, fresh mint, and lemon juice.
Get the recipe for Baked Eggs in Avocado Cups With Feta and Mint »
Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict With Dill Hollandaise
No matter how much you love a classic preparation of eggs Benedict, you may be in the mood for something a bit lighter as warmer weather moves in. Bright, refreshing dill adds a springy touch to our Hollandaise sauce (which takes just two minutes with an immersion blender and our never-fail technique). Smoked salmon, a natural partner for the dill, stands in for the traditional Canadian bacon.
Eggs Sardou (New Orleans-Style Poached Eggs With Artichoke Hearts, Spinach, and Hollandaise)
Eggs Sardou may be green, all right, but (true to New Orleans tastes) it manages to be even richer than eggs Benedict—poached eggs resting on a bed of thick creamed spinach and warmed artichoke hearts, with a blanket of Hollandaise on top. The spinach simmers slowly while the other ingredients are prepared, and our two-minute Hollandaise recipe helps speed the process along.