Let the kids down those jelly beans, but the sweet, tart, juicy fruits of spring make beautiful desserts for the Easter table. From bright citrus like lemons and grapefruit that are still in season to the possibility that you're lucky enough to live where rhubarb is popping up or even the first strawberries are ripening, these desserts bring the fresh air and sunshine of spring inside. I'm such a fan of both rhubarb and easy-peasy fools, that this Rhubarb Fool may be my choice this year.
From a heartier bistro-style salad with goat cheese to a light and bright mix of gingery radishes, these Easter Salads make excellent use of the bounty of spring produce we've been craving for months. I hate to choose favorites in such an all-star line-up, but I must admit that I have a special affinity for the Asparagus Tossed Salad pictured above with thinly cut asparagus, lemony dressing, pistachios, and little perlini mozzarella balls.
The tender vegetables of spring lend themselves easily to simple side dishes with tons of flavor for the Easter table. These Easter Side Dishes work well at brunch or dinner, depending on when you're planning the big meal. I can't help but give a special shout-out for both Braised Artichokes and Vignarola. Both are slowly cooked and taste great warm or at room temperature, so they're perfect for making ahead for stress-free entertaining.
Let's be real. Easter can involve a lot of candy. And rich lamb or ham. It's the perfect time to break out a whole bunch of vegetables to start things off instead of cheese and crackers or chips and dip. These Spring Appetizers for Easter have tons of fresh spring flavor, are packed full of veggies, look stunning in all their green and colorful glory, and taste great. Since they let the delicate tastes of spring produce shine through, they're also simple and light.
In many families, it ain't Easter without lamb on the table (or turning on the spit). My all-time favorite way to cook lamb is on the grill. And for festive occasions I turn to a butterflied leg of lamb, marinated overnight if possible. This time of year I like to add bright spring radishes and sliced spring onions and fresh mint (so much better than mint jelly) alongside the rich meat for crunching. It makes a grand Easter platter, I tell you. Check out Grilled Leg of Lamb to see for yourself.
Whether or not you celebrate Easter, true spring lamb is a delicious element of seasonal eating - and if you can find a locally grown one, all the better. Finding that local lamb can be quite tricky, however, as fewer farmers raise sheep (a farmer I know stopped trying because the carnage from the coyotes was too much to handle - emotionally and financially). In fact, you may only be able to find imported lamb at the meat counter. Learn more About Different National Lambs here. You may also find this Guide to Lamb Cuts useful as you head to the market.
It's that time of year again. When plain old hum-drum eggs turn pink and yellow and blue. Tablets and packets are all fine and good, but it's also easy to dye beautiful Easter eggs using food. Red cabbage makes any white egg look as lovely blue as a robin's egg, and turmeric or saffron create a bright, sunny yellow. See How to Dye Easter Eggs here.
I also dyed eggs pink with beets, but have to admit that the color didn't turn out anywhere near as vibrant as what came off on the paper towels where I set the to dry. Similarly, the spinach-for-green-eggs I'd heard so much about was a disappointment. Yes, the eggs turned a bit green, but it was so pale... I'm not sure it was worth the effort. The blue from red cabbage and the yellow form the turmeric, though, those were fabulous.
Oh, and the onion skins for orange eggs? They turned a dozen white eggs to a brown that was indistinguishable from some brown eggs I'd bought at the farmers market.
Have you had better luck dying eggs naturally? I'd love to hear about it!
I've run this picture before, because farmers are funny. In honor of the often dry sense of humor engendered by a life working the land, I offer up both 12 Signs You Shop at Farmers Markets and Farmers Market Don'ts.
"How do you use everything you buy at the farmers market?" is by far the most common question people ask me. Seriously. People seem to have a lot of trouble making use of what catches their eye and makes their way into their baskets at farmers markets.
I can't blame people for going crazy and over-buying when presented with the beauty and bounty that fills so many markets. Not at all. I'm not here to judge. How could I? I'm the one who does things like come home with that 20-pound box of tomatoes without a plan in sight. I'm here to help. Here are 7 Simple Steps I use to make sure that every fava bean and every bunch of mint and every box of tomatoes get used and gets used deliciously.
You found a great market, you went, and now you're home. And... wow, but you bought a lot of stuff. Perhaps more than you planned. Perhaps way more than you planned. What do you do now?
As someone who's been known to come home (or even back to hotel rooms) with a tremendous amount of produce, an amount of produce that may strike many as completely insane, I am here to tell you to take a deep breathe and don't panic; all of whatever you've brought home can be tackled. And it's actually not all that tricky. Just follow these 11 steps, and you'll be golden.
Does 11 sound like a lot? I'm worried that sounds like a lot. It's not though, they really are easy little numbers and you don't have to do all of them. They are more tips than steps. Eleven tips!
Now that the farmers market season is getting underway nationwide and we've found market(s) near us and figured out our local season yesterday, let's talk about creating a method to our madness. Do you arrive early for the best picks or late to avoid the crowds? Do you have favorite bags to tote your haul home? Check out my 10 Tips for Shopping Farmers Markets for ideas on how to make your farmers market trips easier and more productive. I also urge you to read tips other Local Foods readers have written up, then tell us how you make the most of your visits to the farmers market in Readers Tips For the Farmers Market.