The long Easter weekend is perfect for entertaining, but no one wants to spend all their time locked away in the kitchen missing out on all the fun.
Keep the kids busy with an Easter egg hunt while you get cracking in the kitchen, and with our easy menu plan, you’ll be joining in the fun in no time.
Whet your guests’ appetites and get off to a great start with these simple but tasty starter ideas.
• Asparagus spears: steam for a few minutes and serve four or five to a plate, with good olive oil drizzled over, and top with a small amount of flaked parmesan.
• Pea and mint soup: sauté finely chopped onion and garlic in butter, stir in frozen or fresh shelled peas and shredded mint, and cook for a couple of minutes. Simmer with vegetable stock for 20 minutes then blitz to your preferred consistency with a hand blender. Quick and cheap!
• The no-starter starter: you can always ditch a formal starter and just serve a few nice shop-bought nibbles people can enjoy with a pre-lunch drink. Bowls of crisps are a must of course, but some gorgeous olives and some salami are also nice to pick at. Don’t forget about mini sausages either – few people turn them away!
Of course it wouldn’t be Easter lunch without a gorgeous joint of roast lamb. Here’s how to pull it together with minimum fuss.
• Roast lamb: season a shoulder of lamb with salt, pepper and fresh herbs (rosemary is great). Drizzle with a little olive oil and place in a roasting tin, covered loosely with foil. Roast at gas mark 1 (140°C) for about two hours – a 1.75kg shoulder of lamb should feed six people, allow extra time for larger cuts of meat. Remove the foil and increase the oven temperature to 200°C before cooking for a further 20 minutes or until browned.
• Gravy: mix the pan juices with a little flour and stock, then simmer and stir on the hob for a couple of minutes.
• Crushed new potatoes: if you fancy a change from roasties, just boil up some new potatoes until tender, drain and then drizzle with a good glug of olive oil and some freshly chopped herbs. Then crush lightly with a potato masher – you’re not looking to make mash here, so don’t go overboard!
• Baby carrots in a cider glaze: sauté carrots in butter for five minutes, sprinkle over a little brown sugar and let this dissolve, then pour over 200ml cider and 100ml water mixed with a teaspoon of good mustard. Simmer for 10 minutes or so, until tender.
• Baked fruit and crème fraiche: peel and remove the cores from Cox’s apples and Comice pears, then quarter these and lay them in a shallow ovenproof dish. Finely grate a small nugget of ginger and some orange zest and sprinkle this over the fruit with a light dusting of cinnamon, then pour over the juice of one orange. Cover in foil. Leave to bake at 170°C while enjoying the rest of your lunch, and eat warm with a spoon of crème fraiche.
• Easter eggs: of course with all that chocolate to get through, you can forgo the formal dessert option and get stuck in! If you’re feeling really adventurous, you could even make your own.
What’s your favourite part of a traditional Easter lunch? Register or log in to share your thoughts and recipes in the comments section below.