Stress-free Easter feast
Try this delicious make-ahead menu for Easter Sunday. And if you want to avoid meat, there’s a vegetarian alternative.
Make your Easter celebration stress-free by preparing as much as possible in advance. Then you can enjoy time with family and friends, whether it’s spent hiding Easter eggs, finding them and eating them, or walking along tarmac roads and gazing longingly at lush green – empty – fields.
- Braised lamb shanks with Spring vegetables OR Spring vegetable pie with polenta cobbler (vegetarian)
- Rhubarb and almond tart with rhubarb cream
These can be assembled and placed in the fridge ready for baking just before serving.
4 large field mushrooms
3 tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
300g baby spinach leaves, washed
6 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs
125g feta cheese, crumbled
50g pinenuts, lightly toasted
pinch of nutmeg
salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5.
- Heat 1 tbsp of the oil and fry the shallots until soft, about 5 minutes.
- Add the spinach leaves, cover and cook for a minute or two until the leaves have wilted.
- Drain off any excess liquid and chop roughly.
- Place in a bowl along with 4 tbsp of the breadcrumbs, feta cheese, pinenuts, nutmeg, salt and pepper and mix to combine.
- Divide the spinach mixture evenly between the mushrooms, lightly pressing the stuffing into the cup. Sprinkle the rest of the breadcrumbs on top of the stuffing. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake for 20–25 minutes.
Braised lamb shanks with Spring vegetables
Shanks are the bottom part of the leg and an underrated and inexpensive cut of lamb. This recipe gives you the rich, full flavour of lamb cooked on the bone and the meltingly tender texture from long, slow cooking. Better still, it can be cooked hours in advance without the last-minute rush of a whole roast leg of lamb.
4 lamb shanks
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
salt and pepper
1 tbsp flour
2 tbsp oil
2 onions, finely chopped
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 organic carrots, finely chopped
2 cloves , finely chopped
4 anchovy fillets
200ml dry white wine
300ml lamb stock
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp freshly chopped flat leaf parsley, to serve
mashed potatoes, to serve
steamed vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, or whatever looks fresh
Just before serving, taste for seasoning and stir through the chopped parsley.
- Season the flour with the rosemary, salt and pepper, spread on a plate and roll the shanks to give a light coating.
- Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in an flameproof casserole and brown the lamb on all sides.
- Remove from the casserole and set aside.
- Heat the rest of the oil and fry the onions, celery and carrots until soft.
- Add any of the leftover flour and rosemary, the garlic and anchovies and stir-fry another minute.
- Pour in the wine and stock and boil for about 5 minutes to reduce the liquid by about one third.
- Add the tomatoes and return the lamb to the casserole. Cover and simmer over a low heat for 2 ½ hours.
- Check the liquid level. If it seems a bit thin, remove the lid and simmer another half hour or so to reduce the sauce.
- Serve one shank per person on a mound of mashed potatoes with the sauce spooned over and steamed vegetables on the side.
Spring vegetable pie with polenta cobbler (vegetarian)
2 leeks, trimmed and cut into 2cm chunks
2 stalks celery, cut into 2cm chunks
2 medium organic carrots, cut into 2cm chunks
2 medium courgettes, cut into 2cm chunks
2 parsnips, cut into 2cm chunks
250g cauliflower, broken into florets
250g chestnut mushrooms, quartered
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp oil
400ml vegetable stock
1 tbsp soy sauce
150ml red wine
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs fresh thyme
salt and black pepper
For the polenta cobbler
175ml Greek yoghurt
150g grated Cheddar
100g polenta (the dry kind in a box)
100g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
salt and black pepper
1. When you have the vegetables all prepared, heat the oil in a large pan or flameproof casserole and fry the leeks, celery, carrots and courgettes until just beginning to soften and colour. Then stir in the cauliflower, parsnips, mushrooms and garlic and fry for another minute.
2. Add the vegetable stock, soy sauce, wine, bay leaf, thyme and salt and pepper and bring to the boil.
3. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are just done – they should be tender but not overcooked.
4. To make the cobbler, mix together the eggs, yoghurt and half the grated cheese. Add the polenta, flour and baking powder and mix well. It should be a wet but thick consistency.
5. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a baking dish, then add enough of the cooking liquid to cover.
6. Carefully spread the cobbler mixture over the top, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bake for 25–30 minutes until golden on top. Serve with mashed potatoes and purple sprouting broccoli.
Rhubarb and almond tart with rhubarb cream
The dish can be fully assembled and stored in the fridge until the final baking stage.
375g ready-rolled shortcrust pastry (or use a ready-baked shell)
675g rhubarb, cut into chunks
2 tbsp demerara sugar
200ml double cream
For the almond filling:
100g unsalted butter, softened
100g caster sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
100g ground almonds
2 tsp flour
Roll out the pastry to a thin layer and line a 20cm/8in tart tin. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5, prick with a fork and bake blind for 10–12 minutes.
Place the rhubarb and sugar in a saucepan and heat gently until the fruit is soft but not completely collapsed.
Place a sieve over a bowl and drain off the excess liquid, reserving for later.
To make the filling, whisk the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, then beat in the egg. Stir in the ground almonds and flour.
When the pastry case is done, spread the almond mixture evenly on the base.
Spread the rhubarb over the almond filling and bake for 20 minutes.
While the tart is baking, look at the rhubarb juice – it should be slightly syrupy. If it’s too thin, pour back in the saucepan and simmer to reduce.
Whisk the double cream until it begins to thicken then whisk in the reserved rhubarb syrup. It should just hold a shape. Serve spooned over slices of the almond and rhubarb tart.
Welcome to the iVillage Easter extravaganza, providing you with all you need to have fun family time over the Easter period. ...