Easter is a joyous holiday — and part of the joy stems from a celebration of the season. Spring is here! Flowers bloom and birds awake us in the morning. The sun feels truly warm and nourishes our souls as it revives our gardens.
Old and New Easter Meals
Traditional Easter meals revolve around an afternoon or early evening dinner. Very often the main course is baked ham or roasted leg of lamb, although if your family prefers another centerpiece, consider poached or baked salmon or roasted pork tenderloin.
In recent years, Easter brunch has been supplanting the more formal Easter dinner for many families. Brunch is more casual, a little easier, and, owing to the time of day it is served, allows you to regroup well before evening falls.
Brunch could revolve around dressed-up scrambled eggs, a frittata or strata (a tasty egg dish with bread, milk and cheese, and whatever else suits your fancy), or a dressy chicken casserole. Baked goods such as cinnamon rolls, coffee cakes, and muffins are welcome on the brunch table. Hot cross buns are traditional at Easter.
You might decide to serve a luxurious version of French toast or stacks of buttermilk pancakes. Either is made more special with a homemade strawberry sauce or chopped mixed fruit.
Easter Side Dishes
Regardless of the meal — dinner, brunch or something in between — a few springtime vegetables demand to be heard. Most readily, asparagus comes to mind, but don’t forget about tender butter lettuces, spring peas, and diminutive new potatoes.
Asparagus can be steamed, grilled, or roasted and served warm. After it’s cooked, it can be chilled for a salad. Choose firm stems with tight bud ends.
Lettuces include Bibb, Boston and spring greens mixes, which often include cress among other greens. Dress them lightly with vinaigrette made from white wine vinegar or lemon juice and top-notch olive oil. Season them with some fresh herbs. This kind of salad complements an egg dish as well as one of meat or fish.
Peas are symbols of spring and if you can find freshly shelled English peas, also called garden peas, buy them. If you have the patience to shell your own, even better. They require brief steaming and then a pat of butter and chop of flat-leaf parsley or fresh mint.
New potatoes, white or red skinned, are wonderfully sweet and cook in a very short time. They can be boiled, steamed, grilled or roasted, served with a little sweet butter or drizzle of olive oil. They also can be sliced and added to an egg dish, or cooked as hash browns.
And for Dessert?
Dessert can be a light and fluffy angel food cake, a lemony tart, or sliced strawberries spooned over vanilla ice cream. Lacy lemon cookies or similar cookies are lovely on a tray.
Chocolate is always welcome at Eastertime. Fill chocolate meringues with berries, or serve chunky chocolate brownies with ice cream and strawberry or raspberry sauce.
The trick to Easter dessert is to remember that little ones are gorging on chocolate and marshmallow chicks from Easter baskets, and so won’t need much in the way of something sweet. Keep it simple, light, and fanciful.
The Easter Table
You may decide to decorate the table with baskets of colorful Easter eggs and foil-wrapped chocolate bunnies. Colorful paper or foil cups (the kind you use for cupcakes) filled with tiny chocolate eggs and jellybeans are adorable at each place.
Otherwise, spring flowers rule the day. Arrangements of tulips, freesia, iris, or daffodils fill the house with color and sweet fragrance. If you are lucky enough to find branches of apple or cherry blossoms, these fragile flowers say spring loud and clear.
Either Easter dinner or brunch welcomes springtime with grace, beauty and good eats!