Easter Dinner Ideas
So... it sounds like I'm hosting Easter dinner at the ripe age of 26. Just 4 people- my husband and my folks. My parents will have just returned from vacation and my brother is away at school so my mom said she "didn't want to do anything". But anyway...
Trying to think of a menu worthy of Easter and most likely lamb based. I don't feel like doing ham, personally. 3 courses- the only thing we have nailed down is dessert, which will be lemon ice cream, maybe something else in addition. Not too worried there.
I've been making a potato leek soup recently that I know my folks would love- I think it would make a great first course, but I'm not sure if it would make the meal too heavy. I also feel like I need to serve a starch with the main course, but will that be too much with the potato soup as the 1st course?
So, with a potato leek first course, what do you think of lamb "lollipops" with some kind of green sauce (chimichurri/green goddess, etc) along with either roasted asparagus or zuchinni and a caramelized onion risotto? Perhaps some sauteed mushrooms with the risotto (but on the side, because my mom is a picky child).
Any other suggestions? Should I just nix the potato leek for something lighter as a starter?
Your main sounds great.
I'd suggest you make a pan sauce if you sear the lamb- perhaps red wine, balsamic, Dijon, shallot, thyme reduction.
Since you'll have green with the side veg, the sauce would be different.
I'd nix the potato leek soup and opt for something lighter.
Tortellini en brodo?
Thanks for the help! That is a good idea about the pan sauce- I didn't think of that. That could be good with some polenta instead of risotto, too! I haven't yet decided if I'll grill or pan sear/broil. I will keep it in mind.
Oyyy I know that potato leek soup is heavy but man is it tasty. Tortellini en brodo is also mighty delicious- and a good alternative but still very satisfying. Do you have a favorite recipe?
I adore polenta! Also nice with mushrooms.
I don't have a recipe, but the brodo really needs to shine, and to be clarified.
The broth and even cooking tortellini can be done beforehand, and heated a la minute.
It's a simple dish, but takes skill which is why I think it shines.
Here's my favorite pan sauce:
You are lucky that you are cooking for a small group so I would try new recipes and techniques. IMO since it is just the 4 of you I would plan a menu everyone can eat, ie I would cater to your mom's palate.
Rack of lamb with a mustard crust and a minty herb sauce
Roast tomatoes( you could add a goat cheese crust)and sautéed spinach with raisins and pine nuts
I am not a fan of serving risotto as a side dish. how about serving an asparagus risotto to start?
I love wArm gingerbread cake with lemon ice cream.
About 25 years ago, my sister and I were on a long bike ride and it was very cold. We rode up to a locally owned restaurant that offered (on their cheeseboard) "Chicken and Dumplings." It was a perfect thought, so we parked our bikes and sat down. When we asked the German owner and chef to bring the soup, she said "we're out." We wanted soup, so we asked what the soup was: "Spinach Cheese." Sounded horrifying - imagining yellow goop with green globs. But my sis and I still talk about it as one of the best soups we've ever had. I've made it many times.
It is a combination of lentils and barley, a few mushrooms, and a few herbs in a vegetable broth or a half vegetable half chicken broth. Lightly spiced. White pepper and a little tiny bit of cloves. The broth is very hot, poured over spinach in the bowl, and then shredded baby swiss is drizzled on top to melt down. Not too heavy - mainly broth and spinach with some cheese and a smattering of the other "filler" ingredients. No need to have too many lentils, barley, and mushrooms. Sometimes I've added wild rice, but that takes some time and effort to stage the rice, barley, and lentils. The rest is easy.
Like the idea of lamb lollipops as a stand alone course, then a sorbet, then the sides. Chimichurri and lamb is something that I have not done, but is making me salivate right now (dinnertime).
Lamb with a sweet glaze, after grilling and finishing, is always good with a nice horseradish sauce. Something about that combo works well for me.
Asparagus soup (with leeks, maybe) would be a PERFECT starter for this meal - then proceed with your lamb and risotto or polenta (both sound lovely). If you're married to the potato leek soup to start, cut the starch from the main course - you could do something a little more avant garde, like an asparagus-parmesan flan as a side...
I feel like your lamb lollipops in balsamic with spring vegetables (YES! Asparagus! maybe on top of a small pile of baby greens) would be a light and lovely companion to the first course soup. I don't really see a need for more starches, since you'll have them in the beginning, and possible at the end (the lemon ice cream sounds wonderful! Maybe with some raspberry-filled cookies or wafers?).
If you must have a starch during the second course, how about tiny dinner rolls, made hot-cross-bun style? Perhaps topped with some sort of herbal seed that goes with your meat and veggies and sauce . . . I think fennel seed is a very spring-like flavor.
6 ounces, maybe 8 but no more, of the potato soup would be fine, and you would not need an appetizer. Another alternative side starch is rice pilaf, or bulgur pilaf.
You might also consider roasting two ducks instead of the lamb, just because folks don't tend to make duck for a large group. You'll probably have a bit leftover (save some breast and serve it atop a wilted spinach salad a day or two later) but a single duck is barely enough for 3 people.
I understand your concern about the soup being too filling. I solved that problem by serving my favorite, but filling, shrimp bisque in demitasse cups for Christmas.
I too am trawling through recipes for next Sunday, all I know for sure at this point that dessert will be individual white chocolate and pistachio pavlovas and the meat will be lamb.
Anyway, the soup sounds wonderful, and as other have said it can be a small bowlful.
If you want a green sauce with the lamb lollipops I can recommend Ottolenghi's sauce that goes with his grilled lamb:
When I made the recipe I marinaded a butterflied lamb leg and then grilled on the barbecue - no reason why you couldn't use lollipops - the herby/almondy sauce is really delicious - if cilantro is a problem Italian parsley works just as well, and the orange blossom water will not be missed if you don't have it.
So, a green sauce, roasted tomatoes, crusty bread and a simple green salad maybe?
I love potato leek soup and think a small bowl would make a nice first course. Sprinkle some fresh chopped chives on each bowl for color and a bit of freshness.
I wouldn't do risotto or polenta if you are serving the potato leek soup. Maybe go in a sort of German direction with the lamb and do a mustard sauce. Serve with homemade spaetzle with a little butter and fresh dill or some other fresh herb. Could add sauteed mushrooms to the spaetzle or to the sauce. Asparagus or peas as a side vegetable. (Or mix peas and mushrooms.)
Or, as somebody else mentioned, a lighter starch option like couscous or quinoa, flavored to complement your sauce.
I've been meaning to make potato leek soup for months now that I have found bags of frozen cleaned leeks at Trader Joes! One of my favorite soups, I guess I will plan it for Good Friday.....
And couscous was my immediate thought for your starch with the lamb. So easy to prepare & much lighter than risotto or polenta, though I love both of them as well. Roasted pee wee potatoes would be easy and elegant, also and I also like the roasted tomato idea for a bit more color.
I think your whole menu sounds lovely, enjoy it!
Thank you all for your lovely suggestions- you all sound like you have fabulous cooking abilities and palates :)
After some encouragement I think I will go with small bowls of potato leek to start... just because my very meat and potatoes parents will go crazy over it! I ordered 16 rack of lamb "lollipops", which is probably way too much- but no one ever complained about leftovers, right? I'll give them a marinade and grill, serve with an herb sauce (athena's suggestion sounds beautiful).
Tentatively, I'll also do grilled asparagus topped with balsamic roasted tomatoes (+1 again to athena for planting that in my head). And yes, I'm throwing another startch in the mix- warm grain/lentil salad for a side. Last week I made ina garten's salmon with lentils- delicious, and I ran out of lentils so I threw in some barley. That could be a contender. I also am a big fan of farro and bulgur right now. If anyone has any ideas on that end, I'm all ears!
ETA: or white beans/chickpeas!! mmm!