This spring celebration calls for fresh, colorful dishes that will make everyone at the table happy, whether you’re a carnivore, vegan, chocolate lover, or strictly gluten-free. From an egg-white Italian Easter bread to a spectacular leg of lamb, with plenty of green salads and vegetable dishes, plus festive cakes for dessert, you’ll find all the recipes you need here.
What does Easter say like eggs?
The icon of the season should not be missing on the Easter table. This recipe for pane di pasqua, the Italian Easter bread, produces adorable mini brioche-style loaves of bread, studded with eggs dyed in your preferred pastel shades. Proteins give a grapefruit gin fizz cocktail a delicious airy consistency. This smokey ham tortilla can be made before the guests arrive and served at room temperature, a blessing to the host. Start the meal with a jammy egg and smoked trout salad with spring vegetables. And finish with a beautiful brown sugar Pavlova with lemon curd and yogurt whipped cream.
Spring salads and side dishes
Easter is a celebration of rebirth, a celebration of spring, and it just happens to fall at the exact time of year when the markets are overflowing with wonderful seasonal produce. So you really have no choice but to plan an Easter parade with colorful salads and vegetable sides. Start with these clever ideas for using the season’s bounty, all so easy that no recipes are needed, from green dandelion salad with warm bacon dressing to peppery watercress mashed potatoes.
This spring pea salad with mint, chili and ricotta salata is a particularly fresh option, and in this chilled asparagus salad with bitter vinaigrette, the spears, now at the height of their season, take a star turn. One vegetable steals the show in two ways in this roasted and raw carrot salad with cumin seed dressing. A side of asparagus, snow peas and fava beans comes with a rich, creamy and totally festive vegan pine nut tofu dressing.
And if you want some satisfying starch for ballast, this colorful tomato rice with favas, chickpeas, and fried onions looks like a feast, and this recipe for spring vegetables with green goddess dressing combines new potatoes with scallions, peas, and a generous amount of herbs.
The center of the party
If you’re hosting a gathering this Easter or just feeding your family in grand style, anchor the meal with one of these large-size roast recipes. A leg of lamb roasted over an onion gratin is a holiday classic. Pecan-glazed ham with licorice cookies and green beans gives the holiday dinner a Southern accent. Chicken baked in a salt crust with jeweled rice is a spectacular showpiece. And salt-and-pepper prime rib with crushed peas and spicy crème frache is equally bouncy and extravagant. The lamb options alone are almost overwhelming. If you really want to wow your guests, try Cleopatra, Chef Daniel Boulud’s braised leg of lamb.
Are you expecting a busy Easter Sunday? For a version that’s ready in about half an hour, try this quick leg of lamb with sautéed shallots, peppers and tomatoes, this grilled leg of lamb with roasted apricots, this grilled leg of lamb with pistou or this radically simple roasted leg of lamb with farro salad and aubergine. For a vegetarian main course you can’t beat the Absolute Best Vegetarian Lasagna. This melted onion and leek lasagna offers a slightly lighter take on the crowd-pleasing dish. Want to keep it vegan? This charred cabbage porterhouse has all the juiciness and smoky flavor of a good steak.
Extra-Special Easter Cakes
Can you imagine a dessert more elegant and spring-like than a rose cake studded with candied petals and infused with cardamom and rose water? This ricotta cake is easy to make and customizable too: garnish with a dash of macerated berries, a nice splash of raspberry coulis, or a simple citrus glaze. This coconut chiffon cake with coconut icing is ethereally light and uses less than half the sugar of a traditional angel food cake. For a gluten-free candy that everyone would love to devour, try this bright lemon tart, this orange-chocolate-marbled Bundt cake, or this flourless chocolate tart with really good, really dark chocolate—a grown-up alternative to the ubiquitous foil-wrapped egg.
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