By: Amanda Garrigus
Cheesy scalloped potatoes, honey-glazed ham, classic deviled eggs, these are the cornerstones of the traditional Easter meal. Not that we’re complaining. We love a well-cooked, honeyed ham as much anyone, but, this year, in light of global warming and all, we figured a little detour toward a plant-based feast might be just the thing.
Admittedly, preparing a vegan meal requires a little creativity and a slight shift in thinking. Instead of orienting the meal around a single marquee item, like that honeyed ham, think of filling your table with a variety of dishes that complement each other and create a family-style feast worth sharing. We combed the Internet, and sourced a few of our own favorites, to find the best plant-based Easter recipes.
Crispy Garlic Smashed Baby Potatoes
This recipe was shared with me by a dear friend who also happens to be an accomplished chef. He came to my rescue when I needed to stretch a meal to accommodate a few last-minute dinner guests. The potatoes are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and the garlic herb seasoning adds just the right robustness of flavor. This has become my go-to whenever I need a side dish to round out a meal. Since I always wing it, we’ve sourced a version of the recipe at Yay For Food blog so you can recreate the magic.
1 lb (16 oz) baby potatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Boil potatoes in salted water until they are softened, and a fork can easily poke through to their center, about ten minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes. Drain and pat dry using a paper towel. Place the potatoes on a baking sheet and toss with garlic, rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper, and olive oil then take a fork and press down on each potato until it’s flattened, but still holding together. Space the potatoes on the baking sheet so they are not touching. Sprinkle a little extra salt and pepper before baking for 20-25 minutes. The potatoes will be crispy and lightly golden in appearance when done.
“Dry-Fried” String Beans Chinese-Style
My family and I love this recipe. We found it in Mark Bittman’s cookbook, How to Cook Everything, about a decade ago and our love for its spicy, sweetness hasn’t faded a bit. The original recipe calls for ground pork, but I’ve never used it and never missed it either. Be sure to choose young, string beans, or you’ll risk having to contend with stringy, hard to chew veggies, and nobody wants that. Red chili pepper flakes add a nice kick.
2 1/2 pounds tender green beans, trimmed
3 bunches scallions (about 8 – 10 individual stems), chopped into 1” pieces with green tops
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
4 tbsps olive oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp red chili flakes
Heat olive oil in a large wok over high heat. Add garlic and scallions and toss for 1-2 minutes until the garlic just begins to turn golden. Add string beans and toss to coat with olive oil, garlic and scallion. Cook stirring often over high heat until some of the beans begin to brown, about five minutes. Add the soy sauce, brown sugar and chili flakes and toss to combine. Cook on high heat, tossing often until most of the beans have softened, about five more minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Maple Dijon Dressing
The dressing for this salad is inspired by a recipe I found in Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook, It’s All Good. It’s become a fast favorite around here, satisfying that need for sweet with a little tang, and is a perfect counterbalance to the cruciferous Brussel sprout. The nuts in this dish add heartiness and a nice protein boost.
1 lb Brussels sprouts (damaged leaves and ends removed) halved and thinly sliced
1 honey crisp, or other sweet apple, sliced into 1” pieces
1/4 cup roasted sunflower seeds (candied walnuts works well here too!)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp maple syrup
1 tbsp course ground Dijon mustard
Pinch of salt
Prepare the dressing by first combining the olive oil and balsamic, beating with a fork to create an emulsion. Then add the maple syrup, Dijon mustard and the pinch of salt and beat with a fork to combine. In a separate bowl combine all other ingredients. Toss the salad with the dressing and serve.
Butter Lettuce Spring Salad
Every table celebrating spring should include something fresh and light, and in my view, nothing does this better than a lovely lettuce salad. I find that a simple salad, with just a few fresh, organic ingredients is the best compliment to a table already bursting with flavor.
One head fresh, crisp butter lettuce
One avocado sliced into 1” sized pieces
A handful of sweet cherry tomatoes, quartered (about 8 – 10 individual)
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper to taste
Wash the lettuce and tear the leaves into large pieces, then toss in a large bowl with the tomatoes and avocados. In a separate small bowl, beat lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper until well combined. Pour just enough dressing to coat the salad, but not drench the produce. Place the remaining dressing on the table for guests to use as necessary.
Set the table with a large, warmed loaf of sourdough bread with a little salted olive oil for dipping.
Looking for more recipes? Here’s a tip: Don’t restrict your search to vegan cookbooks and blogs. You’ll find vegan recipes everywhere. If there are no animal products in the list of ingredients, then it’s vegan and you’re good to go! Now get cooking!