Easter feast sides


Fastily, Wikimedia Commons

Some skillet fried fresh green beans make a delicious side for an Easter dinner.

 

Spring time means Easter will soon be here (Sunday, April 17), and most people I know like to keep their Easter menu on the traditional side. Their families may come to depend on their favorite dishes being available on the special day.


Sometimes there is room on the table to sneak in a new recipe or two, and those might end up becoming a new tradition. Most in my family expect an Easter ham, but once in a while a roasted leg of lamb shows up, too. One year I provided a platter of marinated, split, grilled Cornish hens, and those were very well received.


I am sure everyone already has figured out what their main dish will be this Easter, so here are a few suggestions for those who are still contemplating which side dishes to offer.


I hope you are enjoying Spring so far, and if you have managed to avoid the annual ant invasion, consider yourself lucky.


Garlic green beans


1 pound fresh green beans


1 to 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil


2 to 4 small garlic cloves, minced


Salt and pepper, to taste


2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, optional (I leave out)


1. Trim or snap off the ends from the green beans, removing any stringy fibers which can run the length of the bean (not all beans will have this fiber). If the beans are excessively long, they can be cut or broken in half for easier eating.


2. Wash and drain the beans. Boil or steam the beans, just until crisp-tender, about 5 to 7 minutes.


3. Drain and submerge the beans in an ice water bath for 1 or 2 minutes; drain once more.


4. Melt the butter or heat the olive oil in a saute pan or skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and saute just for 1 minute until fragrant; do not burn.


5. Add the green beans to the pan and season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss gently and cook just until the beans are heated through. Place in serving dish and sprinkle parsley over, if using. Makes 4 servings.


Sauteed asparagus


1 bunch asparagus (about 1 1/4 pounds)


1 tablespoon olive oil


2 cloves garlic, chopped


1 teaspoon salt


1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1/2 lemon


2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, for serving


1. Trim the tougher ends from the base of the asparagus spears by cutting off the bottom 2 inches or by snapping it off with your hands.


2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the asparagus in a single layer and cook, turning occasionally, until lightly golden and almost tender, 8 to 10 minutes. (Cut a small piece from the end of one asparagus to see if it’s almost tender.)


3. Reduce the heat to low. Add the butter, garlic, salt and pepper and stir to coat the asparagus. Cook until the garlic is softened and fragrant, 1 to 2 more minutes. Immediately transfer to a serving plate.


4. Just before serving, squeeze the juice from the lemon half over the asparagus and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately. Note: For super-thin asparagus, cook about 2 minutes less than recommended. For very thick asparagus, cook about 2 minutes more. Makes 3 to 4 servings.


Spring salad with berries and bacon


2 tablespoons red wine vinegar


1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot (from 1 shallot)


1 1/2 teaspoons honey


1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard


3 cups sliced strawberries (from 1 pound fresh strawberries), divided


3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided


1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil


5 cups baby spring salad mix


1 feta cheese block (4-oz.), crumbled


1 medium shallot, thinly sliced lengthwise


1 cup yellow cherry tomatoes, halved


8 bacon slices, cooked and coarsely chopped


1. Place red wine vinegar, finely chopped shallot, honey, Dijon mustard, 1 cup of the strawberries, and 1/4 teaspoon of the kosher salt in a blender. Process until smooth, about 30 seconds. With blender running, gradually drizzle in oil, processing until mixture is smooth and combined, about 30 seconds.


2. Arrange spring mix on a large platter. Top with feta crumbles, sliced shallot, tomatoes, bacon and remaining 2 cups strawberries and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Drizzle vinaigrette over salad, and serve immediately. Makes 6 servings.


Make-ahead yeast rolls


2 packages active dry yeast


1 1/4 cups warm water, divided (105 to 115 degrees, or according to package directions)


4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour, divided


3 large eggs, lightly beaten


1/2 cup shortening, melted


1/2 cup sugar


2 teaspoons salt


1. Combine yeast and 1/4 cup warm water in a 2-cup liquid measuring cup; let stand 5 minutes.


2. Combine yeast mixture, remaining 1 cup water, 2 cups flour, eggs, shortening, sugar and salt in a large bowl; beat with a wooden spoon 2 minutes. Gradually stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough.


3. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees or so), free from drafts, 1 hour. Punch dough down; cover and chill at least 8 hours. Note: You can also just go ahead and make the rolls without refrigerating the dough. You can bake and freeze them until you plan to serve them.


4. Punch dough down; turn dough out onto a floured surface, and knead 3 or 4 times. Divide dough in half; shape each portion into 16 (2-inch) balls. Place balls in two lightly greased 9-inch square pans.


5. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in bulk. Bake at 375 for 12 minutes or until golden. Makes 32 rolls.


Brussels sprouts salad with citrus maple dressing


For dressing:


1/3 cup fresh orange juice (from about 2 oranges)


2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar


1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


1 tablespoon pure maple syrup


1 teaspoon Dijon mustard


1/2 cup olive oil


Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


For salad:


1/2 cup canola oil


1 pound small Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved (quartered if large)


Kosher salt


8 to 10 ounces mixed baby lettuces


1 tart-sweet apple (such as Honeycrisp or Pink Lady), quartered and thinly sliced


1/3 cup sliced or slivered almonds, toasted


2 to 3 ounces Asiago cheese, shaved


1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives


1. For dressing: Place orange juice, vinegar, lemon juice, maple syrup and mustard in a blender. Blend until well combined, 10 to 15 seconds. With blender running, gradually add oil until emulsified, 45 to 60 seconds. Season with salt and pepper. Store in a jar in refrigerator up to 1 week.


2. For salad: Line a plate with paper towels. Heat oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking, 1 minute. Carefully add Brussels sprouts, cut sides down, and cook, without turning, until crisp-tender and golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate with a slotted spoon. Season with salt.


3. Toss together lettuces, apple, Brussels sprouts, and 1/4 cup vinaigrette in a serving bowl. Top with almonds, cheese and chives. Serve immediately with remaining vinaigrette alongside. Makes 6 servings.