For some reason, brunch seems to be one of the lesser common social get-together formats. We more often have cookouts and dinner or cocktail parties, but brunch has a lot going for it: You don´t have to get up extra early or go to bed late, serving liquor is definitely optional, a sunny setting adds to people’s good mood, and the dress code is usually not fussy.
On your next casual hosting occasion, whether your guests are “just” your closest family or a medium-sized group of friends, why not offer brunch with a Spanish and/or Latin American flair to the menu? Choose an item or three from the list below, then round it out with your choice of drinks, bread, and/or fruit.
Here are a handful of menu ideas with fun names to get your creative brunch juices started:
- Conquistador: Spanish omelette garnished with tomato slices, crusty white bread, whole Valencia oranges (peel and eat), Dominican papaya and milk smoothie.
- Cinco de Mayo: Churro chips, eggs scrambled with jarred salsa (or make your own), bolillos (Mexican white bread), Morelian gazpacho fruit salad, aguas frescas and/or Mexican hot chocolate.
- Caribbean Morning Breeze: West Indian pumpkin fritters, sliced tropical fruit sprinkled with lime juice, hibiscus tea (hot or cold).
- Keepin’ It Cool: Cold tomato gazpacho, chicken empanadas (served at room temp), chilled melon balls and grapes, iced coffee.
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A classic dish consisting of fried eggs placed on a corn tortilla and bathed in a delicious red tomato sauce, huevos rancheros were born in Mexico but are quickly becoming an American favorite. The sauce can be prepared a day or two before, leaving just the tortilla and egg frying for the actual brunch day. Serve huevos rancheros with some refried beans and good crusty bread, and you are practically done with the menu.
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Both Costa Rica and Nicaragua claim gallo pinto as their national dish, and most people there would probably not go a day without eating at least a simplified version of this combination of black or red beans (depending on region), rice, bell peppers, and cilantro. It’s a hearty vegetarian dish on its own, but also often accompanies egg or meat dishes, so it´s perfect for brunch. Best of all, you can use rice and beans that are left over from other meals to concoct gallo pinto.
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This quintessential concoction of eggs and potatoes is often referred to as Spain´s national dish. It can be served at any time of day as breakfast, a lunch, or supper main dish, or even (cut into small pieces) as an appetizer or bar snack. Leftovers can be put between bread and become a sandwich. What better dish to have as the centerpiece of your brunch menu?
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Smoothies made with milk are ubiquitous in Latin America and made with almost any kind of fruit or combination of fruits that you can imagine. This one will give your Spanish/Latin brunch just the right tropical twist while helping your system process the meal at the same time, since an enzyme present in papaya fruit has helpful digestive properties.Continue to 5 of 14 below.
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Change out your usual flabby breakfast hotcakes for these crispy fritters just once, and you may never go back. Dress them up with butter and syrup or jam, just like you would with pancakes, and you have a dish familiar enough to be comfort food while still unusual and novel.
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Traditionally eaten for breakfast during Lent, torrijas are pan-fried eggy slices of bread are usually topped with cinnamon sugar. They make a wonderfully sweet carb-y side dish to a savory main brunch dish.
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No Colombian or Venezuelan worth his or her salt would brunch without an arepa or two. These mild-flavored savory cornmeal cakes work excellently as a base for fried eggs or shredded meat or can be split open and stuffed with meat or cheese and shredded cabbage. Yum.
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Though not typically served for breakfast in its native Spain, gazpacho is a fabulous choice for brunch on a warm day. This classic dish made only of fresh vegetables and a little vinegar and oil (and, optionally, chunks of stale bread) is part soup, part drink, and would be a great lighter (yet still very nutritious) element in an otherwise heavy menu.Continue to 9 of 14 below.
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While on the topic of gazpacho, we cannot fail to mention a delicious Mexican version that has little in common with its Spanish namesake. This gazpacho is actually an unusual fruit salad made with sweet tropical fruits, lime juice, and a couple of unexpected savory ingredients. Morelian gazpacho may very well be the most eye-opening thing you eat all year.
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If you are looking for a casserole-style dish for your brunch, this is the ticket: shredded chicken, plenty of cheese, and day-old corn tortillas (instead of pasta noodles) baked to delicious perfection. Roast the poblano chiles, make the sauce, and cook and shred the chicken the day before, and all you will have to do on brunch day is assemble, bake, and enjoy.
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Reminiscent of both Spanish churros and Latin American sopaipillas, these baked chips made from flour tortillas add a pleasant crunchiness to any menu. Offer them with a sweetened yogurt as a “dipping sauce” (à la chips and salsa) for a fun start to your brunch or serve them as a light dessert.
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Lighter and more refreshing than other varieties of a steaming chocolate beverage, Mexican hot chocolate will add sweetness and just a touch of delicious bitterness to your Latin American-themed brunch. Serve with sweet breads (either homemade or purchased from a Mexican bakery) for dipping, and you will be making delicious memories.Continue to 13 of 14 below.
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Empanadas, baked or fried dough stuffed with something sweet or savory, are a classic all over Latin America and can be eaten at any time of day. They can be made large as the main dish or small for snacks, appetizers, or an accompanying side.
Need a small meat accompaniment for an egg main? Offer ground beef empanadas. Would something sweet be the dessert to round out your brunch menu? Make some sweet apple or pineapple empanadas. The possibilities are nearly endless.
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Chilaquiles is the perfect Mexican side dish to any number of egg dishes or even heavier brunch proteins such as pan-fried steaks or shredded meat. It consists of day-old corn tortillas cut into triangles and fried, then bathed in one of Mexico’s delicious cooking sauces. The dish is filling and flavorful, yet complements (rather than competes with) the eggs or meat. Though somewhat laborious to prepare, chilaquiles are very much worth your time and effort for a special brunch meal.