Lent is over, the anniversary of the resurrection is upon us, and it's finally spring! In other words, it's time to celebrate. Whether your family does an Easter lunch, brunch, or dinner, we've got a four-course seasonal menu expressly engineered for maximum satisfaction. I'm talking fresh new spring greens, a choice between some mighty fine looking lamb and ham, and the cheesiest, creamiest potato gratin you ever did see.
Let's kick things off with some cocktails, shall we? There's the timeless French 75, a tart and herbal glass of Champagne (or other sparkling wine), gin, and lemon juice, lightly sweetened with sugar. Or consider the effervescent Plume. The love child of an Americano and a Negroni Spagliato, it combines Campari, Cocchi Rosa (or sweet vermouth), and a touch of absinthe with club soda and Prosecco. Garnished with an orange twist, it's potent, citrusy, and pleasantly bitter.
Prefer your cocktails fruity? Whip up a big batch of pink-hued Strawberry-Rhubarb Bellinis with Basil. The fruit and basil combine in a refreshingly tart-sweet and slightly minty purée that's topped off with a dry sparkling white or rosé.
Spring Salad of Asparagus, Ramps, Snap Peas, and Peas, With Poached Egg and Lemon Zest Vinaigrette
This bright salad is pretty much spring incarnate. There are sweet young peas and snap peas, tender fresh asparagus, and the venerable early spring ramp, along with delicate curls of pea shoots for good measure. The greens are tossed in a lemony parsley- and shallot-spiked vinaigrette and topped with a poached egg. If you follow our method for foolproof poached eggs and find out how to make and store them in bulk for a party, putting this dish together is a breeze. A light, crunchy, refreshing spring breeze, if you will.
Slow-Roasted Boneless Leg of Lamb With Garlic, Rosemary, and Lemon
The second I set eyes on the even, pink cross-section of Kenji's slow-roasted boneless leg of lamb, I knew that this recipe was a keeper. And that's before I even tasted it. The butterflied leg is slathered with a punchy, lightly cooked mix of garlic, shallot, anchovies, rosemary, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes, which infuse each bite with some extra pep. Then it's rolled up and tied with twine and roasted at a nice, low 275°F. And that's pretty much it—wrap, roast, rest, slice, and serve.
Everything about this roast is company-friendly—it's big enough to feed a crowd, not to mention hearty, incredibly flavorful, exceedingly difficult to screw up, and totally hands-off for about four hours before it's served, meaning you'll actually have time to do all the other stuff that hosting a party entails. I will say, though, that unless you're really confident at butchery, don't make my mistake and attempt to de-bone the leg yourself. Sure, it worked, but it didn't make for quite as elegant a presentation (think a lot of butcher's twine to hold that hacked-apart baby together).
Sous-Vide City Ham With Balsamic Brown Sugar Glaze
First off, don't let the 'sous-vide' here intimidate you. We've got a perfectly delicious oven-friendly maple-glazed ham recipe right here. BUT if you do have a sous-vide cooker or circulator, you're in luck—it takes the virtually foolproof process of reheating your store-bought ham and makes it totally hands-off. Plus, since the ham is sealed and heated at a nice low temperature, it holds onto all its precious moisture, remaining tender and perfectly cooked throughout. Which means you can spend your precious time whipping up a simple, flavorful glaze of equal parts brown sugar and balsamic vinegar. To make it table-ready, all you have to do is apply a few coats of the glaze over the course of a 15-minute stint in the oven and you're good to go.
Hasselback Potato Gratin
Why have plain old boiled or roasted potatoes when you can dig into a casserole of cheese- and cream-smothered spuds, instead? Come on—we're celebrating here, am I right? This rendition maximizes the crispy bits on top of the gratin, too, by stacking the potatoes on their sides.
What, you ask, is a fool? The traditional English dessert is typically made with stewed fruit that's folded into a creamy chilled custard. This rendition translates a little more nicely to warm weather seasons, combining a lemon custard, light and airy whipped cream, and blueberries for something tart, fruity, sweet, and all-around refreshing.
It's not quite prime blueberry season, of course, but luckily this summery recipe has a built-in cheat: the blueberries are cooked into a sweet, syrupy compote that makes any less-than-perfect berries virtually undetectable. If you can't find any fresh ones, a jarred compote will do in a pinch. Layer the components in individual glasses for a pretty, Easter-hued presentation.
What's that? You're looking for something that really screams Easter? Try these beautiful meringue "nests" filled with orange curd cream and topped with Easter eggs. We've also got a thematic pastel-striped Easter egg cake a go. Or try any of these 17 Easter desserts, for that matter.
As for finding the perfect bottle to pair with your meal, here are some words of wisdom from our resident wine expert, Maggie Hoffman.
If you're serving lamb, you'll need wine that brings out the earthy flavors of the meat and amps up the herbs you've used in your prep. Consider Syrah from the Northern Rhône in France, or a nice bottle of Nebbiolo. I constantly recommend the Produttori del Barbaresco Nebbiolo Langhe, which costs about $20 and is herbal and pretty, with dried cherry flavors and a lovely eucalyptus side once it gets enough air. (Pour it in a decanter or pitcher 30 minutes before dinner for best results.)
If you're having ham, there's a richness factor to think about, and sometimes a little smokiness, plus there might be sweetness if you've glazed your ham before serving. But don't worry, wine can handle it. Especially sparkling wine. I wouldn't pair glazed ham with a super-dry bubbly: ask for something a little fruitier at your local shop. Consider sparkling rosé to stick with the pink theme!