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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 a web producer and writer for When she's not busy geeking out at the computer, she loves cooking and trying new recipes on her friends. Some of her favorite foods are dark chocolate, coffee, apples, sweet potatoes and cheese.

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