Brunch menus should ideally contain at least a few cold dishes, especially for informal meals that will last several hours. Cold brunch food is easy to prepare and maintain and does not have the same limitations as hot brunch items. The majority of cold brunch dishes can sit out for several hours without spoiling, but you will want to take care with dishes that contain meat, eggs and mayonnaise.
Bagels are great cold food to serve at brunches, particularly if they are very fresh. A creative way to present bagels is to create a bagel bar with several different types of cream cheeses, butters and jams, along with smoked salmon, capers and diced onions. If desired, you can also supply a toaster on the bagel bar for those who prefer their bagels warmed.
Muffins and Breads
Muffins and breads are filling cold brunch items that are best served fresh-baked. Sweet muffins and breakfast loaves, such as lemon poppy seed and blueberry, don't usually require any toppings. Savory items like French rolls and corn muffins are great with some preserves, honey butter or cream cheese.
Salads are refreshing dishes to include in brunch menus, particularly in the summer. It's great to incorporate sweet fruits with bacon, cheese, greens and veggies for a satisfying cold brunch dish. Brunch salads can range from a simple lettuce mix topped with almonds and dried cranberries to a more complicated Waldorf or spinach salad. Tuna, chicken and egg salads also pair well with brunch fare. It is best to serve these salads undressed if they will be sitting out for several hours to keep them from getting soggy. Additionally, mayonnaise-based salads should be kept in the refrigerator.
Chilled soups such as gazpacho and blended melon soups are light dishes that are great to serve on very hot days. They can be made one or even two days ahead of time, as their flavors tend to develop over time. These soups should generally be kept very cold, so it's best to store them in the refrigerator.
Fruit with Dip
Cut-up melon and berries with dip is a cold brunch dish that even picky eaters will enjoy. The finger food allows diners to serve themselves and the dip, usually made from cream cheese, sour cream or yogurt, adds a sweet, creamy boost to the produce. Arrange the fruit on a platter around the bowl of dip for serving large crowds, or dish up single servings of the fruit with small cups of dip for a more intimate setting.
- "Joy of Cooking"; Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker; 2006