Easter is a holiday celebrated around the world. Celebrations in the United States include a giant bunny and hunting for eggs, while in Finland, children dress up as witches and go door-to-door, offering to bless homes in exchange for treats. Wherever you find yourself this Easter, there are likely deeply-held traditions surrounding you, which often center around food.
Desserts have a strong presence in United Kingdom Easter celebrations with Simnel Cake, a fruit cake topped with marzipan, and Hot Cross Buns. Argentina celebrates with Torta Pascualina, a hand pie filled with ricotta, hard-boiled eggs, and vegetables. Tradition in France dictates a roasted leg of lamb seasoned with garlic and herbs. Finland keeps things interesting with a dish called Mammi. If you want to add Mammi to your Easter holiday, start early. This dessert made from molasses, malted rye, and orange zest needs to be chilled for 3-4 days before serving.
In the United States, the most common meal is roasted ham. If ham is on your Easter menu, it's time to think about placing your order. Ham directly from your butcher will have a smokier flavor, so we recommend checking out what's available here at Wholey. Here are a couple of quick tips to get you started.
If you're unsure how much ham to purchase, consider whether you're serving food buffet-style or plated. People tend to eat more at a plated meal. For a bone-in ham, you can assume ¾ - 1 pound per person and about ½ pound per person for a boneless ham.
Make sure you have a heavy roasting pan or several foil pans to stack; ham can be heavy and will collapse a weak pan. Also have a digital thermometer, pastry brush, and sharp kitchen knife.
But what if you're tired of your traditional meal? Year after year, the same food has gotten a little dull. Maybe it's time to change things up and try a new recipe. Let's explore a holiday meal that's a little more modern, but keeps its roots in traditional flavor.
Roasted Flavor without the Ham: Orange-Roasted Chicken
Let's keep the roasted meat but swap the protein for something new! You'll achieve something unique by switching to a new main dish while keeping a roasted flavor that will please your more traditional guests. This recipe also replaces tart pineapple with a similar flavor of refreshing citrus.
- 7 clementines
- 1 whole chicken (3-4 pounds)
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- 1 tsp. salt
- 4 strips of bacon
- 12 sage leaves
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- ¼ cup dry sherry
- 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves minced garlic
How to cook
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Cut each clementine in half, then slice 4 of the halves into thin pieces. Set these to the side.
- Rinse and dry the chicken, inside and out, and season with salt and pepper. Stuff one-half clementine into the chicken cavity. Tie drumsticks together with kitchen string, tucking the wings under the legs to keep the cavity semi-closed. Move the chicken to a large baking dish.
- Create a vinaigrette by whisking together the juice from 4 clementine halves, maple syrup, sherry, oil, and garlic.
- Lay bacon across the chicken and tuck half of the sage leaves and all thin clementine slices under the bacon. Take the remaining clementine halves and place them around the chicken in the baking dish, then chop 6 sage leaves and sprinkle them across the clementines. Pour half the vinaigrette over your chicken.
- Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees, then cover chicken with foil and roast for 1 hour. Every 15 minutes, spoon additional vinaigrette over the chicken. After 1 hour, remove the foil and roast for approximately 10 more minutes, or until a thermometer in the thigh reaches 170 degrees. Remove from the oven, cover with foil a second time, and let stand for 10 minutes. Then serve!
A traditional side dish, but make it pop: Honey-Hoisin Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes can be found on almost every Easter table in the United States. It doesn't seem like anything topped with cinnamon, pecans, and marshmallows could get tiresome, but maybe this dish has gotten a little boring for your table. Your sweet potatoes could be the star of the show this year by mixing up the recipe and presenting something new! Add some spice and acid, and see what happens.
- ¼ cup hoisin sauce
- 2 tbsp. honey
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- ½ tsp. salt
- 4 sweet potatoes
- ⅓ cup cashews, chopped
- 1 green onion
- Lime wedges
How to cook
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Stir together hoisin, honey, olive oil, and salt. Cut sweet potatoes in half and brush with sauce mixture. Line a baking dish with foil and coat with nonstick spray; place cut sides of potatoes facing down in the pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until fork tender.
Mix lime juice with the remaining sauce mixtures, then spoon over the top of each sweet potato. Top them with green onions and cashews; garnish with additional lime wedges.
Change even more flavors
If your holiday guests aren't big fans of change, these recipes can be a great transition into something new. Combining familiar flavors with new ingredients can soften the blow of change. Here are a few more ideas to shake up your menu this Easter.
- Serve a tray of hand pies instead of one large pie. Consider filling them with a less common tropical fruit like pineapple, mango, or kiwi. You'll satisfy the need for holiday pie while adding new flavors.
- Cook your meat differently. An easy way to change things up without changing them too much is to use a different cooking element. Instead of roasting your protein in the oven, consider grilling, deep frying, or even steaming it.
- Try a traditional recipe from another culture. Roasting a leg of lamb or learning to bake hot cross buns could create a new tradition for your family.
Go big by changing proteins; go small by altering a side dish; mediate the risk by making a traditional dish alongside something new. Every Easter dinner has sweet potatoes, but yours will be the ones talked about until next year.