A simple spring menu is the perfect feast for a large holiday gathering. Instead of the usual Easter fare, these recipes celebrate extraordinary flavors with the addition of unique ingredients. Not only will your guests be impressed, they will be delectably well-fed and looking forward to the next holiday at your house.
Spinach Salad with Red Onion, Bacon, and Mandarin Oranges
Hearty spinach punctuated with onion, fresh bacon bits and juicy mandarin oranges makes a super side salad to partner with an Easter ham.
10 cups baby spinach leaves, washed, patted dry
1/2 small red onion, halved, thinly sliced
5 strips of peppered bacon, cooked until crispy, crumbled
1 (15-ounce) can mandarin oranges, drained, juice reserved
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon leaves
Toss spinach, onion, bacon and mandarins in an extra large bowl. In a cruet, shake together mandarin juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, vinegar and tarragon. Drizzle half of the dressing on spinach mixture and toss to coat. Evenly divide spinach salad among 10 salad bowls and serve drizzled to taste with remaining dressing.
Orange Honey Glazed Ham
Makes 10 to 12 servings
Warm spices, orange juice and honey make this smoked ham shine with a delicate glisten and a sumptuous flavor.
1 (8 to 9 pound) smoked ham, bone-in, skin on
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
20 whole cloves
1/4 cup honey
1 cup orange juice
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. and spray a broiler pan with cooking spray. Score sides and top of ham in a diamond pattern and season with salt, pepper, allspice and cinnamon. Place ham on a broiler pan and press cloves into ham. Drizzle with honey and bake 30 minutes. Pour 1/2 cup orange juice over ham and bake 30 minutes. Baste with remaining orange juice and bake an additional hour or until ham is heated through to a temperature of 140 degrees F. on an instant read thermometer. Place ham on platter and cover with foil. Let stand 15 minutes before carving.
Twice-Baked Feta Sweet Potatoes
Makes 8 servings
Feta, raisins and walnuts give this side-dish a medley of mouthwatering textures that are delicious to the very last forkful.
4 small to medium-sized sweet potatoes, scrubbed
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons sour cream
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup golden raisins
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place potatoes on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour or until fork tender. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes. Cut each potato in half lengthwise and carefully scoop flesh into a bowl, leaving peels intact. Season with salt and pepper. Mash sweet potato flesh, butter, sour cream, and feta together until well-combined. Stir in raisins and sugar and spoon into shells. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts, gently pressing walnuts into the potato mixture. Bake for 15 minutes or until heated through.
A luscious variation on classic cheesecake, ricotta adds a special creaminess to this dessert. The hint of lemon and vanilla makes this cake a natural for fresh fruit topping.
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 pounds whole milk ricotta cheese, drained
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
8 egg yolks
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Zest of a lemon, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
8 egg whites
Fresh fruit preserves
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. and generously butter a 12-inch springform pan. Sprinkle the bottom of the pan with crushed graham crackers and set aside. In a standup mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat ricotta and 1 cup sugar until smooth. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating until uniform in color. Add flour, lemon zest and vanilla and beat until incorporated. In a second bowl, use a hand mixer to beat egg whites with remaining sugar until soft peaks form. Fold egg whites into ricotta mixture until blended. Pour batter into springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes then lower the heat to 350 degrees F. and bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until cake is just set. Turn off heat and allow to cool in oven with door ajar. Remove from oven and remove sides of pan. Serve warm with fresh fruit preserves or refrigerate and serve chilled.