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 at the farmers market. And what better occasion to put all these fresh spring ingredients to use than Easter? For those who celebrate the occasion, 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 several of our favorite foodies for inspiration. Spanning a roasted lemon spinach and artichoke dip to a lemon coconut tart with whipped vanilla bean crème fraîche, we're adding these 11 Easter dinner ideas to our menu this year.
Here are our picks for the best Easter dinner ideas to whip up this season.
The Appetizer: Roasted Lemon, Spinach, and Artichoke Dip
The Recipe: Roasted Lemon, Spinach, and Artichoke Dip
Why We Love It: 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 Gerard, of Half Baked Harvest. "My secret is a little lemon, roasted with some jalapeño, and plenty of cheese," she explains.
Pro Tip: Remember to use marinated artichokes. You "must use marinated. They add so much flavor," urges Gerard. As an added bonus, using store-bought marinated artichokes cuts down on prep time.
The Appetizer: Marinated Goat Cheese Strawberry Crostini
The Recipe: Marinated Goat Cheese Strawberry Crostini
Why We Love It: These cheesy crostini from Half Baked Harvest are substantial enough to tie guests over till the main course but light enough that they won't be too full to enjoy the rest of the spread. Goat cheese is marinated in herbs and a quality olive oil, then spread on toasted bread, and topped with sliced strawberries. Finish with salted honey.
Pro Tip: Fresh burrata or cubed feta cheese works well if you aren't a fan of goat cheese, recommends Gerard.
The Salad: Spring Pea Salad With Creamy Dill Dressing
The Recipe: Spring Pea Salad With Creamy Dill Dressing
Why We Love It: 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).
Pro Tip: For 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 Salad: Spring Cobb Salad
The Recipe: Spring Cobb Salad
Why We Love It: This recipe from The Modern Proper includes everything we love about the classic cobb (hard boiled eggs, salty, crispy pork bits) but is remixed for spring–think asparagus, snap peas, feta cheese, and an herby vinaigrette.
Pro Tip: Dressing will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
The Entrée: Roasted Rack of Lamb With Basil Goat Cheese Sauce
Why We Love It: A few simple seasonings let this Half Baked Harvest recipe shine. Opt for garlic, oregano, cumin, salt, pepper, and a handful of other ingredients. Then there's 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.
Pro Tip: "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, Gerard advises.
The Entrée: Fennel Crusted Halibut With Asparagus Sauce
The Recipe: Fennel Crusted Halibut With Asparagus Sauce
Why We Love It: Springtime bounty shines in this elegant yet quick to prepare main dish. Make this Feasting at Home recipe with halibut, black cod, or sea bass. You'll also need fennel seeds, radish, lemon, and tarragon seeds for garnish. For the asparagus sauce, gather asparagus, stock, shallot, more lemon and fresh tarragon.
Pro Tip: Try not to skip the fresh tarragon if possible, writes Feasting at Home. "This makes the sauce!"
The Side: Grapefruit-Roasted Beets With Greens, White Beans, and Pistachio Butter
Why We Love It: Roasted in grapefruit juice and sherry, this recipe from The First Mess 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.
Pro Tip: Seek out 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 Side: Rustic Zucchini Tian
The Recipe: Rustic Zucchini Tian
Why We Love It: Caramelized onions mingle with zucchini (and any type of summer squash really), and a rustic tomato and garlic sauce for a super savory side with Middle Eastern flair (think coriander, cumin, lemon zest). Sauté onions till succulent, writes Feasting at Home, add squash rounds, and bake covered for 40 minutes.
Pro Tip: Finish with parsley and olive oil.
The Starch: Crispy Manchego Potatoes With Romesco Sauce
The Recipe: Crispy Manchego Potatoes With Romesco Sauce
Why We Love It: Smashed potatoes are fun, and offer more surface area to soak up the Romesco sauce. Make Yes to Yolks' recipe with baby tomatoes, Manchego cheese, and chives. For the sauce: Plum tomatoes, roasted red peppers, garlic, sliced almonds, parsley, olive oil, and a splash of sherry vinegar.
Pro Tip: "You can leave the sauce a little chunky if you prefer, but I like a very smooth sauce," writes Molly, of Yes to Yolks.
The Dessert: Lemon Coconut Tart
Why We Love It: The tart lemon curd filling is an easy-to-make recipe from Broma Bakery that doesn't involve tempering eggs or any other fancy techniques. "To make the lemon filling you just whisk everything together and bake," explains Sarah, of Broma Bakery. Plus, the crunchy, sweet candied lemons are ideal companions for whipped vanilla bean crème fraîche topping.
Pro Tip: Plan ahead as some of the recipe steps take some time to come together, like candying the lemons, and waiting for the tart to bake.
The Dessert: Spring Flower Sugar Cookies
The Recipe: Spring Flower Sugar Cookies
Why We Love It: Hummingbird High gives the classic sugar cookie a springtime spin with colorful, dried flower petals, and a hint of rose water. Find them at herb and spice stores, then break out baking staples like baking powder, unsalted butter, sugar, eggs, confectioners sugar, and heavy cream.
Pro Tip: Sprinkle edible flowers on cookies immediately after dipping into the glaze.