There are many ways you could celebrate spring and Easter, as far as cooking and eating goes. Brunch is one option: With a no-cook crab cocktail, custardy bread puddings and vegan waffles that taste like carrot cake (and mimosas, obviously). There’s also the classic duo of ham and potatoes. But when Easter sneaks up on us and feels a little earlier than normal, we opt for a menu that’s a little less complicated, with a few things we can make a day ahead and a few others that come together in a snap.
Lamb Chops With Scallions in a Cola Glaze, above. Featuring a little magic in the form of Coca-Cola*, which reduces to a sticky, not-too-sweet glaze that’s accented with some anise seed and scallions. (Save the scallion greens to make your own vegetable broth.) Note: If the lamb chops you find are on the larger side, like ours were when we recently made it, plan on one chop per serving, for a total of four (rather than eight). Make them just before serving, preferably — they only take about 30 minutes, including prep time.
*Yes, you can use Pepsi. No, sorry, you cannot use diet.
Braised Potatoes With Bay Leaves and Garlic. A clever way to cook small red or white potatoes: They become very flavorful, fragrant and tender as they cook in a covered pot with some liquid (a cooking technique known as braising). You can make these a day ahead, too — they’ll taste even better when reheated in a skillet.
Spring Polenta With Radishes. Are you tired of polenta yet? We hope not, because here’s another tasty way to serve it: topped with fresh springy vegetables, cooked until they’re just crisp-tender and some chickpeas for a little extra protein boost. (This dish would make a good main for vegetarians.) If you can’t find garlic scapes or green garlic, use chives or scallions; you can also substitute broccoli florets for the broccolini. (But in that case, we might add some sliced kale or mustard greens, just to lend a slight bitter note.) If you want to make this ahead of time, know that the polenta will thicken significantly as it cools — you can thin it out with some extra liquid as you reheat it in a pot, or embrace the firmness and cut it into slabs, drizzle them with oil and bake until crusty.
Orange + Radish Salad With Olive Dressing. This quick and beautiful salad will make your Easter spread really pop. (It would be even more lovely served atop a pile of tender greens.)
Sunrise Granita. Cheery, sunny and made in advance, this is a light dessert that’ll help balance out all the chocolate bunnies and jelly beans you’ll be snacking on. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, or drop a few spoonfuls into glasses of sparkling wine.
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