While afternoon tea often features delectable but sugar-laden, high carb items, it does not need to. With a little ingenuity you can create a savory three-course afternoon tea menu that is every bit as delicious — but wonderfully healthy and nourishing to body and soul.
First Course: Soup
Instead of starting with tea sandwiches, I like to begin with a savory soup, luscious and smooth, filled with all sorts of good things — like a Roasted Pepper Gazpacho served chilled on a warm autumn afternoon or heated up if the weather suddenly turns brisk. It’s a sumptuous way to transform canned and jarred items into something thick and flavorful. Simply blend together canned Italian tomatoes, roasted red pepper strips, a cucumber, a few cloves of garlic, and some green onion with a drizzle of olive oil, a trickle of red wine vinegar, sea salt, freshly ground black or white pepper, and a handful of chopped fresh dill. Place in the fridge to chill and serve topped with fresh dill fronds. Make the Roasted Red Pepper Gazpacho first so it has ample time for flavors to meld.
Second Course: Quiche
Instead of scones with jam and cream, I like to serve a crustless Smoky Sausage Quiche packed with protein and savory goodness. Choose a good quality smoked sausage for this dish since it is the star ingredient, then crumble it into a saucepan and fry until well browned. Drain and set aside. In the grease, fry up a chopped onion until soft and slightly browned. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, cottage cheese, ground mustard powder, one can of mild green chilies, salt, and ground pepper. Stir in sausage and onion, then pour into a greased pie plate. Bake 35-40 minutes until set and edges are browned. This quiche is beautiful served warm or cold, and is a lovely accompaniment to the Roasted Red Pepper Gazpacho.
If you prefer a vegetarian option, skip the sausage and replace it with extra caramelized onions, roasted garlic cloves, sun-dried tomatoes, and chunks of tangy feta cheese. You won’t even miss the meat.
Third Course: Dessert
For the end of the meal, dismiss the sweet cakes and cookies and serve pretty dishes filled with billowy clouds of Cherry Lemon Snow dusted with shards of sprightly lemon zest.
Based on a Norwegian recipe, this is simply lightly sweetened cream whipped until firm peaks form, then folded in with a puree of cherries and lemon zest. It is beautifully light and airy yet utterly delightful. It’s also versatile with mix-and-match options to suit a range of palates. If you don’t fancy cherries, replace them with strawberries or blueberries, mangoes or peaches. They’re all delicious options. If lemons make your mouth pucker, fold in thinly sliced spearmint leaves instead, or dust the top with finely ground hazelnuts or almonds. You can even spice it up a bit by whipping the cream with freshly ground cinnamon or nutmeg and sprinkling chopped candied ginger on top. Make it with cold ingredients right before you’re ready to serve.
Roasted Red Pepper Gazpacho
- 2 cans Italian tomatoes
- 1 jar roasted red pepper strips, drained
- 1 cucumber, coarsely chopped
- 1 green onion, coarsely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped, more for garnish
Place all ingredients in blender and puree until smooth. Chill until ready to serve, and garnish with fresh dill fronds.
Smoky Sausage Quiche
- 2 cups smoked sausage
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 cup cottage cheese
- 1 can mild green chilies
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard powder
- 6 eggs
- salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Crumble sausage into a saucepan and fry until well browned. Drain and set aside. In the grease, fry onion until soft and slightly browned. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, cottage cheese, ground mustard powder, mild green chilies, salt, and ground pepper. Stir in sausage and onion, then pour into a greased pie plate.
Bake 35-40 minutes until set and edges are browned. Serve warm or cold.
Cherry Lemon Snow
- 1 pint cold heavy whipping cream
- 1-2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1 cup fresh or canned cherries, pitted
- Zest of one lemon
- 1 teaspoon orange liqueur
In blender, puree cherries, lemon zest, and orange liqueur. Set aside.
In large bowl, whip heavy cream until firm peaks form. Gently fold in cherry mixture.
Spoon into serving bowls and serve immediately dusted with lemon zest.