Every year, we look forward to the transition from oddly shaped winter squash to leafy salad greens, aromatic herbs, and brightly hued beets in the aisles of our local grocery store. And what better occasion to put all these fresh spring ingredients to use than Easter? While baked ham will always hold a special, nostalgic place in our hearts, this year we're looking to break with tradition and try something a little bit different.
In search of special-occasion recipes worthy of a spot on our holiday table, we turned to a few of our favorite foodies for inspiration—and they did not let us down. Spanning a roasted lemon spinach and artichoke dip to a lemon coconut tart with whipped vanilla bean crème fraîche, we're adding these Easter dinner ideas to our menu this year. Now all that's missing is one of these refreshing rosé wine cocktails. Keep scrolling to find out what foodies serve when they're hosting a memorable spring dinner.
The Recipe: Roasted Lemon, Spinach, and Artichoke Dip
The Hero Ingredient: The roasted lemon is what takes this appetizer to the next level. "Say hello to the best spinach and artichoke dip ever," proclaims recipe creator Tieghan of Half Baked Harvest. "My secret is a little lemon, roasted with some jalapeño, and plenty of cheese," she explains.
The Clincher: The marinated artichokes. You "must use marinated. They add so much flavor," urges Tieghan. As an added bonus, using store-bought marinated artichokes cuts down on prep time.
The Recipe: Spring Pea Salad With Creamy Dill Dressing
The Hero Ingredient: Though this delicious dish is filled with fresh spring ingredients, the salad dressing really steals the spotlight. It's "tangy, lightly sweet, flecked with dill, and creamy," explains recipe creator Laura of The First Mess, making it an ideal dish to serve alongside a special roast (or all on its own if you're hosting vegans).
The Clincher: The perfectly bitter, slightly sweet shallots. "I 'acidulate' the shallots to soften their bite a bit by covering them in vinegar while the rest of the salad happens," offers Laura.
The Hero Ingredient: To let the meat really shine. Recipe creator Tieghan of Half Baked Harvest suggests keeping your seasonings simple, opting for garlic, oregano, cumin, salt, pepper, and a handful of other ingredients. "The key is to really let the seasonings sit on the lamb for a bit before it roasts," she explains. Thirty minutes will work if you're in a pinch, but overnight is best, she advises.
The Clincher: The basil goat cheese sauce. Whipped goat cheese sweetened with a touch of honey adds just the right amount of bright freshness to this special-occasion entrée.
The Hero Ingredient: Roasted in grapefruit juice and sherry, this recipe is the best way to make use of bountiful, in-season beets. Topped with a creamy, bright green pistachio butter, this side dish not only tastes like spring, but it also looks the part on any Easter table.
The Clincher: The pink peppercorns. While Laura notes that they're not totally necessary, they add a pretty pop of color and a spicy bite to this spring dish. If you can't track down this specialty condiment, you can substitute black pepper for a similar flavor profile.
The Recipe: Crispy Smashed Potatoes With Garlic Pesto
The Hero Ingredient: The potatoes. "The concept is simple," explains recipe creator Dana of Minimalist Baker. "Boil baby potatoes until tender. Then smash until almost flat and roast until crispy and golden brown," she adds. "The result is a perfectly tender, buttery potato with golden-brown, crispy edges."
The Clincher: That spring green garlic pesto. The sauce is made with only eight ingredients (and 100% vegan-friendly), and you're going to want to drizzle it over everything on your plate.
The Hero Ingredient: The tart lemon curd filling. Recipe creator Sarah of Broma Bakery developed an easy-to-make recipe that doesn't involve tempering eggs or any other fancy techniques. "To make the lemon filling you just whisk everything together and bake," she explains. "So, so easy." (Which is exactly what you want in a holiday dessert recipe if you ask us.)
The Clincher: The candied lemons. These crunchy, sweet morsels are the ideal companions for the whipped vanilla bean crème fraîche topping. Trust us, they're worth the extra time and effort to make.