Magazine article Sunset

Elegant Easter

Magazine article Sunset

Elegant Easter

Article excerpt

A springtime dinner, featuring the freshest produce of the season

EASTER COMES at that time of year when the days are getting warmer and farmers' markets are crowded with new asparagus, fresh-dug carrots, and the first foraged wild mushrooms. These flavors usher in the new season, and they're the inspiration for our simple, elegant holiday feast.

These recipes-many of which can be prepared in advance-hit all the classic Easter marks. Glazed ham remains a stalwart favorite, paired here with a sauté of asparagus and morels. New potatoes and carrots are tossed with fresh thyme for an easy side dish. Rounding out the meal is a tender butter lettuce salad crowned with crisp parmesan tuiles. Pineapple-coconut tartlets make a refreshing finale.

Butter lettuce salad with parmesan tuiles and almonds

Butter lettuce is crisp and refreshing, the perfect foil for a parmesan-rich dressing. Although this salad is delicious on its own, the crispy tuiles take minutes to make and are well worth the effort.

PREP AND COOK TIME 45 minutes

MAKES 6 servings

NOTES For best flavor, don't use already-grated parmesan for this recipe; buy a chunk and grate it yourself, preferably with a razor-sharp grater, such as Microplane. If you're nervous about using an undercooked egg in the dressing, seek out in-shell pasteurized eggs, available at many grocery and natural-foods stores. The salad dressing can be made a day ahead and kept, covered, in the refrigerator. Tuiles can also be baked a day ahead; store them in a tight-sealing container in a cool, dry place so they stay crisp.

1 egg yolk

1 tsp. whole-grain mustard

3 tbsp. lemon juice

1/3 cup canola oil

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

2 cups (about 4 oz.) finely grated parmesan cheese (see Notes)

3 heads butter lettuce, outer leaves removed, inner leaves washed and separated

½ cup sliced almonds, toasted

1. In a food processor, pulse yolk, mustard, and lemon juice to combine. Mix oils in a measuring cup. With motor running, add oils to yolk mixture in a slow, steady stream. Process until oils are incorporated and dressing has emulsified. Transfer dressing to a bowl and stir in pepper and 1 cup parmesan. If dressing is too thick to drizzle, stir in up to 2 tbsp. warm water. Cover and refrigerate while you prepare the rest of the salad, or up to 1 day.

2. Make the tuiles: Preheat oven to 350°. On a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or a piece of cooking parchment, divide remaining 1 cup parmesan into 6 piles (about 2½ tbsp. per pile, spaced about 2 in. apart). Using your finger, gently pat each pile into a circle with an even thickness and a diameter of about 4 in. Bake until golden brown, about 5 minutes. (Watch carefully, as cheese can burn easily.) Remove sheet from oven and let stand 1 minute, then transfer tuiles to a cooling rack or an airtight container (they'll keep for 1 day).

3. Divide lettuce leaves among 6 chilled salad plates. Drizzle each with a generous amount of dressing. Sprinkle with almonds and top each salad with a tuile. Serve immediately.

PER SERVING 367 CAL., 86% (315 CAL.) FROM FAT; 11 G PROTEIN; 35 G FAT (6.9 G SAT.); 4.8 G CARBO (1.2 G FIBER); 370 MG SODIUM; 50 MG CHOL.

Classic baked ham with maple-mustard glaze

Ham is the centerpiece of any Easter meal; it's quick to prepare and easily serves a crowd. A simple maple-mustard glaze delivers the sweetness of traditional pineapple rings and maraschino cherries, but adds a layer of spice.

PREP AND COOK TIME 2½ hours

MAKES 8 to 10 servings

NOTES You can heat the ham ahead, then keep it warm in a low oven. Save the bone for split-pea soup.

1 cooked, bone-in half ham (about 7 to 8 lbs.)

15 whole cloves

¼ cup dark brown sugar

¼ cup maple syrup

2 tbsp. Dijon mustard

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