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Lighter, simpler Easter dinner mains

By Penelope Wall, April 12, 2011 - 11:36am

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The other day, my sister called to tell me, “I had lamb. With mint sauce. And it was actually good!” You see, for us, such a meal brings to mind the traditional Easter dinner of our childhood: strong-flavored meat served alongside a glob of chartreuse-hued jelly. Granted, it was hard for us kids to appreciate when we had visions of chocolate eggs rolling around in our heads. But I think I tried just a little bit to like it for my mother, who loved the dish dearly and worked so hard to put a lovely dinner on the table.

In truth, though, it was the mint jelly that did me in. There was always a jar of that stuff in our cupboards, the sight of which, if it caught me off guard, would make my heart sink. I do love mint, when it’s the real deal. And I think folks are more daring these days, willing to try something new, something healthier like a fresh mint and herb pesto rubbed onto roast leg of lamb (see recipe below). These five recipes from the EatingWell Test Kitchen—which showcase the freshest spring produce—show a lighter side to Easter entertaining (and yes, lamb and ham still have a place at the table).

More Spring Entertaining Recipes & Tips:
Easy Easter Dinner Recipes
Healthy Easter Brunch Recipes
Simple Stunning Easter Desserts
How to Truss a Roast & More Tips for Spring Entertaining
How to Buy the Best Meat & Poultry

Mint-Pesto Rubbed Leg of Lamb
Have your butcher “butterfly” a boneless leg of lamb (that is, open it up to a large, flat cut of meat); ask that any visible fat be trimmed off. The pesto rub is also a terrific dip for fresh vegetables or a sauce for steamed vegetables.

Kohlrabi & Ham Gratin
In this dish, a little ham goes a long way. If you haven’t tried kohlrabi, which tastes like a mild, sweet turnip, this gratin is an excellent place to start—after all, what doesn’t taste good with cheese sauce on it?

Poached Cod & Asparagus
In this recipe, we poach the cod right on top of the asparagus. The result is perfectly cooked cod and tender-crisp asparagus. The sauce is our take on beurre blanc—a traditional French sauce made with wine and lots of butter. Ours uses a little cornstarch for thickening and a judicious amount of butter for flavor.

Chicken with Creamy Braised Leeks
A touch of cream, a few garlic cloves and thyme sprigs round out the flavor of tender braised leeks with chicken in this recipe. The rich, silky sauce is wonderful over whole-wheat egg noodles or mashed potatoes.

Asparagus-Goat Cheese Soufflés
Puffy and warm, these asparagus-goat cheese soufflés are the essence of spring. Serve them alongside a big salad with a tangy vinaigrette for a light Easter supper or brunch. Though these are wonderful either way, the addition of truffle oil is spectacular and decadent-tasting.

What will you serve for Easter dinner this year?

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TAGS: Penelope Wall, Food Blog, Dinner, Entertaining, Family meals, Holidays

Penelope Wall
Penelope is Senior Digital Editor for EatingWell.

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