Easter is, of course, a deeply religious holiday for Christians across the country and many observe it in reflection at their house of worship, followed by a rare, sit-down meal with friends and family. And it is to the latter that this post is focused. A theologian I am not.
Easter also serves a secondary purpose, just as Memorial Day ushers in summer and Labor Day ushers it out, Easter signifies the end of winter and the arrival (or imminent arrival, depending when it falls on the calendar), of spring. And spring usually means a change in our eating habits from filling, winter comfort food to lighter, healthier, more active fare.
With this in mind, perhaps we should look for alternatives to the traditional ham or lamb, scalloped or au gratin potatoes, veggie casseroles, and dessert cakes for our Easter meal. So here are some of those alternatives to consider.
This is the perfect opportunity to meld the two things that most represent spring: fruits and vegetables…with a light dressing such as vinaigrette, sesame ginger, or garlic balsamic. Spinach and strawberries always work well together and other fruits that work well in an otherwise veggie salad are grapes, raspberries, diced pear, avocado, mango, cranberries…oh hell, just about any fruit works in a green salad and the same could be said for nuts…walnuts, pecans, pine nuts, etc.
Is it not time to ditch the deviled egg appetizer that everyone thinks is so cute after the kids have spent the morning hunting those same eggs (How did eggs get associated with Easter anyway? It’s not like Easter bunnies lay eggs). How about a nice avocado or hummus dip or spicy salsa? Or some roasted edamame and/or artichoke hearts, or cauliflower wings (essentially cauliflower wedges dipped in various wing sauces.) Martha Stewart, as always, has some great ideas here http://www.marthastewart.com/275143/lighter-appetizer-recipes
I guess this subtitle should have read “entrées other than ham or lamb.” For the vegans/vegetarians in the crowd, a nice eggplant Parmesan, veggie lasagna or pasta primavera (primavera means spring in many romance languages, after all) would be to die for. For the carnivores, a nice slab of roasted or poached salmon is a great alternative as is a nice baked chicken dish. Here are some other great ham/lamb alternatives http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/19868/holidays-occasions/easter/dinner/
And of course, you can always order ready made meals at MagicKitchen.com.
I think it goes without saying that I’m not referring to chocolate bunnies, peeps (you know, those fluffy, yellow blobs of sugar), or candied eggs of any type here. Perhaps your guests would prefer cinnamon baked pears, a fruity sorbet or sherbet, a berry and yogurt parfait, a light and airy angel food cake (topped with fruit, of course), or hollowed out strawberries filled with vanilla yogurt and topped with graham cracker crumbs. There are plenty of low-cal, spring dessert recipes out there and here are a few examples http://www.self.com/gallery/9-healthy-3-ingredient-desserts-under-250-calories
Remember, just because you’ve eaten ham/lamb and some creamy potato dish every Easter since you were a kid does not mean it must continue. This spring, break the bonds of Easters past, step away from tradition, embrace change and eat differently. It’s not like there’s momentous consequences at stake here…it’s only Easter dinner.