Spring has sprung and the first big holiday of the spring season is Easter. No matter how you celebrate—with a focus on the most sacred of Christian holidays, or as more of an easter-bunny-and-peeps spring celebration—Easter is a wonderful time to bring the family together (safely, of course). This is also a time of rebirth, in many different ways. I like to represent this concept with delicious, spring-centric plants, fresh seafood, and for those who eat meat, the traditional spring lamb.
Some of these recipes may seem fancy, and they are sure to impress, but they are actually easy to prepare. Try this five-course dinner and take your time with both the cooking and the eating. You can make the Shrimp Caprese, Asparagus, and Sabayon the day before, to make Easter Sunday feel even less rushed. Enjoy the process, enlist help with the cooking or table setting so everyone feels involved, savor the food, and bask in the beloved company and opportunity for healthy human connection. After dinner, why not take a walk together, to appreciate the beautiful weather? (I’m praying for sunshine!)
Mediterranean Artichoke and Olive Stuffed Tomatoes
4 medium tomatoes
1 cup marinated artichokes, drained and chopped
1/4 red onion, minced
1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 sprig fresh oregano, chopped, reserve some for garnish
1 sprig fresh thyme, destemmed, reserve some for garnish
4 tablespoons sheep’s milk feta (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Using a paring knife, cut the core out of the tops of the tomatoes. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and some of the flesh of the tomatoes. Set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine the artichokes, onion, olives, garlic, oregano, and thyme. Stir to combine.
- Stuff each tomato with the artichoke olive mixture. Arrange the tomatoes on an oiled baking sheet with a rim.
- Bake the tomatoes for 20 minutes.
- Remove the tomatoes and turn on the broiler. Sprinkle with the cheese, if using. Broil for one minute.
- Garnish with more fresh herbs if desired and serve hot.
1 pound fresh peeled deveined shrimp (any size)
½ teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
¼ teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons avocado oil
1 cucumber, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 basil leaves, julienned (rolled up and cut into thin strips)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 avocado, diced
1 tablespoon lemon rind, shaved or finely grated
- Lightly coat shrimp with salt and pepper. Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the avocado oil and sauté shrimp until they are pink and cooked through. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cucumber, pepper, garlic, basil, olive oil, and lemon juice. Stir to combine. Add the avocado and stir again. Add additional salt and pepper to taste.
- Put the vegetable mixture on a large platter or on individual appetizer plates. Top with shrimp and garnish with the shaved or grated lemon rind. Serve immediately.
Blanched Asparagus and Egg Salad with Dijon Tarragon Dressing
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and blanched
4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
1/4 cup chives, chopped
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon (or a few twists of the grinder) black pepper
4 small radishes, thinly sliced
¼ small red onion, minced
4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons vegan or avocado mayonnaise
4 sprigs fresh tarragon, chopped
- To blanch the asparagus, fill a stockpot, Dutch oven, or other large pot with about 3 inches of water. Stir in 1 teaspoon sea salt and put it over high heat.
- Fill a large shallow baking pan with water and ice and set aside.
- As the water is coming to a boil, trim the fibrous ends off the asparagus spears.
- When the water is boiling, add the asparagus spears to the water and cook for 2 to 5 minutes (depending on how thick your asparagus spears are), or just until the asparagus turns bright green and is tender but still crisp.
- Using tongs, transfer the asparagus to the ice water to stop the cooking. When it has cooled, set the asparagus on paper towels to dry.
- To assemble the salad, divide the asparagus between 4 salad bowls or plates.
- In a medium mixing bowl, crumble or chop up the hard-boiled eggs and mix in the chives. Season with the salt and pepper.
- Dividing all ingredients between salad plates, mound the egg mixture over the base of the asparagus spears, fan out or stack the radish slices over the egg mixture, and mound the minced onion next to the radishes.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, mayonnaise, and tarragon. Dollop dressing on each plate, next to the radishes. Serve immediately.
Herb-Crusted Rack of Lamb with Parsnip Purée
1 8-bone rack of lamb (preferably grass-fed, if you can find it), brought to room temperature
4 tablespoons Dijon mustard (or any high-quality stone-ground mustard, like Meaux)
4 tablespoons avocado oil
4 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
2 pounds parsnips, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 quart bone broth or chicken stock
3 tablespoons non-dairy butter (try cultured non-dairy butter varieties for a more complex flavor)
1/2 cup unsweetened almond-based creamer
4 cloves garlic, roasted (use the cloves you roasted with the lamb)
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
4 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- Preheat oven to 415 degrees.
- In a small bowl, combine the mustard, oil, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper. Smear it all over the meat.
- Heat a large cast-iron or other heavy oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Starting with the fat-cap side down, sear the rack on all sides until dark and crusty, about 2 minutes.
- With the fat-cap side up, place the lamb (still in the skillet) into the oven. Add four cloves of garlic to the pan (you’ll use these in the pureed parsnips) and roast for 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the lamb reaches 145 degrees (for medium-rare).
- While the lamb is cooking, prepare the pureed parsnips. In a 4-quart soup pot, add the parsnips and bone broth or stock. If the liquid doesn’t cover the parsnips, add water until they are completely submerged. Put the pot over high heat and bring the liquid to a boil.
- Boil the parsnips until they are fork-tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Strain (reserve broth or stock for another use) and return the parsnips to the pot.
- Add the butter and creamer to the parsnips. Squeeze out the pulp from the roasted garlic cloves and add that to the pot.
- Mix everything together with a hand mixer (alternatively, you can mix everything in a food processor) until creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
- Remove the lamb from the oven and let it lamb rest for 15 minutes. Remove the garlic cloves and set them aside.
- Using a sharp carving knife, slice the chops apart, cutting as close as possible to the bone.
- Divide the pureed parsnips between four plates. Stack two chops per plate over the parsnips. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve immediately.
You may not have heard of this elegant dessert, but it couldn’t be simpler to make. Note that this dessert only uses the egg yolks, so it is quite rich and for special occasions only. Also note that pastured organic eggs taste best, if you can find them, and of course, the better-tasting the sparkling wine or champagne, the better tasting the sabayon, but use what you have.
4 egg yolks (reserve whites for another use) (pastured organic eggs taste best, if you can find them)
1/2 cup sparkling white or champagne
2 tablespoons coconut sugar, or use more or less to taste
12 to 16 fresh berries, any type you like (or add more)
- In a large heat-proof glass or stainless-steel bowl, whisk together the yolks, wine or champagne, and sugar.
- Put a large saucepan filled with a few inches of water over medium-high heat. When it comes to a simmer, place the bowl over the saucepan (you can also use a double-boiler for this, if you have one).
- Whisk the mixture continuously over the heat until it thickens into the consistency of mousse. Don’t let the water boil, or you could get chunks of cooked egg in your sabayon. You want it to stay smooth, so pay attention and adjust the heat accordingly.
- Divide the sabayon between four desert dishes or bowls. Serve warm, or cover, chill, and serve cold.
- Just before serving, top each sabayon with 3 or 4 fresh berries (or more, as you prefer).