This recipe and photography was provided courtesy of local cookbook author and chef, Carla Snyder. Learn more about Carla and discover her recipes at Ravenouskitchen.com.
Every bunny loves Easter. Easter egg hunts, chocolate rabbits and jelly beans are a huge part of the holiday for the kiddies, but for the grownups, it’s the end of Lent and time to celebrate with favorite foods and family gatherings. Whether you’re hosting or not, you’ll probably be asked to bring a side-dish to go with the ham at Aunt Em’s house. Want a few new twists on traditional, easy-to-serve Easter dinner side-dishes that go with ham or lamb? Heinen’s has got you covered.
Easter is a busy time for everyone with family gatherings and children’s activities, so these side-dishes are quick to make and most are served at room temperature. After all, Aunt Emma’s stove isn’t all that large, so sides that don’t need to be heated up are always a winner. Easter salvation comes in many ways and the recipes below will all add exciting new flavors to your holiday meal with minimum of effort.
Let’s begin with a colorful dish of Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Figs Olives and Crème Fraiche. The tender roasted carrots blend beautifully with chewy figs, salty olives, green onions and rich crème fraiche. Served at room temperature, this dish can be assembled when you get to your gathering. Just spread that glorious crème fraiche on a platter and mound the carrot mixture on top. It’s beautiful and delicious.
Next up is a traditional green bean side-dish with caramelized onions and bacon. The men in our family really love this dish and we rarely have any leftovers to nibble on the next day. The hardest part of this recipe is taking the time to caramelize the onions, but the truth is that they pretty much do all the browning on their own. A little stir now and then is all that’s needed. These bacony beans are topped with pine nuts with a whisper of lemon for brightness. Go ahead and make these up a day ahead and reheat them in the microwave if that makes your day go more smoothly.
It wouldn’t be Easter dinner without an asparagus recipe. How about Raw Asparagus Salad with Parmesan Crisps, Walnuts and Arugula? The only thing cooked in this recipe is a short toast for the nuts. Spring asparagus is so tender and delicious when sliced thinly on a diagonal, who knew it tasted this fabulous raw? Dressed with lemon and Parmesan cheese and tossed with walnuts, arugula and those irresistibly crunchy Heinen’s Parmesan crackers, this dish is one of our favorite spring treats.
The one dish I would never mess with at Easter is a Creamy Potato Casserole, but I’ve updated this one with the addition of celery root and Swiss chard. The root blends beautifully with the potatoes, cream and cheese adding a slight celery flavor that I find addictive, and the sautéed greens in the middle makes another green vegetable unnecessary. This rendition includes Gorgonzola cheese for a splurge, but you could use any blue cheese or even a Swiss cheese if your family prefers. I often assemble this dish and hold it overnight in the refrigerator then bake it the following day.
If the potatoes don’t work for you, another room temperature option is Couscous with Peas, Golden Raisins and Mint with Yogurt Sauce. The mint is so bright and cheery with lemon, sweet raisins, green onions and of course peas. I’ve discovered that frozen peas keep their green and texture best if I use them uncooked in salads like this, making it even easier to pull together. The yogurt topping adds a special touch with garlic, mint and green onion mixed in to make it saucy. It’s a fun and new way to serve couscous and it looks far more complicated than it is.
Last but not least is a dessert of Navel Oranges and Caramel. This classic dish appeals with color, texture and of course with its refreshing taste. Just perfect after a big meal, a light dessert of oranges flecked with crispy caramel is just the ticket. If you make it more than 4 hours ahead, the caramel melts into a delicious syrup, so go ahead and make it earlier in the day if you must. It’s really terrific either way.
I hope these recipes find their way into your holiday favorites list. Most of them would be a welcome addition to summer entertaining menus as well. One thing is for sure. No matter if your Easter feast is a lunch, brunch or dinner, these recipes will help you usher in the warmth of spring whether we spy Peter Cottontail’s bunny tracks in a fresh dusting of snow… or not.