It’s a Time of Renewal. What Does That Mean For Your Easter Menu Planning?
Despite what you might be feeling about the recent snow flurries, it IS starting to get warmer outside and spring IS here! And, that means the Easter season is here too. So, what better way to celebrate a seasonal time of renewal than with dishes inspired by the season?
Spring is often thought of as the season of renewal and rebirth; a time of renewal that includes mealtime menus too!
In pagan times, lambs were eaten as people celebrated the spring equinox, and the tradition carried over to Easter celebrations by Christians, and remains a traditional dish for the holiday. While eggs have been a symbol of rebirth for a long time, eggs at Easter take on a special meaning—in some traditions, they are dyed red to represent the blood of Christ. Bread is also a key element to an Easter table. While traditional breads vary from region to region—some of them tall, some of them braided, some of them round—they all have something in common: yeast and eggs. The yeast causes the dough of the bread to rise, symbolizing Jesus rising from the tomb. Eggs add to this symbolism, as they represent rebirth.
And of course, a springtime holiday means plenty of fresh seasonal produce.
There are many exciting fruits and vegetables that are in season in March, April and May, including artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, fennel, rhubarb, and peas. While some of these items are on the expensive side during the winter months when they’re in season, they are much more economical and sustainable this time of year. Plus, buying local helps support farmers in your area as well. Eating fresh spring produce can even help you get out of a winter rut and lift your mood: one study found that eating veggies has a positive emotional effects and that meals with vegetables were more highly rated than those without. After the dreary winter, it’s no wonder that eating fresh, green vegetables could lighten your mood.
However, the benefits of eating springtime produce is not only emotional; fruits and veggies have more nutritional value when they are picked fresh and ripe.
With spring fast approaching and fresh green veggies coming into season, here a few recipes to consider for your Easter menus in order to reap the nutritional benefits of the fresh produce in your grocery store or farmer’s market. A fresh pea soup makes an excellent appetizer—peas are a good source of protein and dietary fiber, and vitamins to boot. A grapefruit and fennel salad is a light and refreshing palate cleanser bridges the winter’s citrus with spring’s fennel, which is a rich source of calcium, iron, magnesium, as well as vitamin c.
Grab a bag of fresh sugar snap peas from your local market and whip up this quick, refreshing salad to reap the benefits of spring produce during this seasonal time of renewal.
Sugar Snap Pea Salad
This light and flavorful salad is the perfect springtime accompaniment to your Easter menu display.
- 1 1/4 cups sliced sugar snap peas
- 1/4 cup of sliced radishes or fresh sliced jalapeno pepper
- 1 scant cup of crumbled feta cheese
- 1/3 cup of mint leaves, torn
- 2 cups of sliced cucumber
- 2 bags of fresh, washed spinach
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 TBS lemon juice
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 3 TBS extra virgin olive oil
- a pinch of salt
- ground pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds (optional)
methodToss radishes (or jalapeno pepper), snap peas, cucumbers, spinach, and mint in a large salad bowl.
Mince the garlic and mix with salt, lemon juice, and balsamic vinegar. Add the olive oil and freshly ground pepper, and whisk together.
Alternatively, shaking all dressing ingredients in a sealed mason jar works great.
Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Top with sunflower seeds and feta. Adjust seasonings to taste and enjoy your tasty and healthy salad.