This Easter, Dine Like a Roman

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The Italians do Easter very, very well, especially in Rome, where tradition is held close, from week-long processions to the scent of freshly baked Easter breads wafting through the streets. This makes perfect sense considering their whole history with the holiday — and the fact that the home of the Catholic Church happens to be housed within their fair and eternal city. Processions and palms aside, we can all be somewhat Roman on Easter by indulging in the staples of their traditional feast. Here’s a sample of the perfect Easter meal. Word to the wise: Plan ahead.

 

Leg of Lamb with Fresh Rosemary and Roasted Potatoes

Just because it sounds fancy doesn't mean it requires a lot of labor. Here, roasted lamb shank sings with the addition of fresh rosemary and the help of beefy, crusty potatoes.

Serves 8–10

Ingredients

  • 1 7–8 lb bone-in leg of lamb, trimmed of excessive fat
  • 6 cloves of garlic, mashed
  • ¼ cup of fresh rosemary, minced (5 additional sprigs for garnish)
  • 1 tbsp of Kosher salt (extra for additional seasoning)
  • ½ tbsp of black pepper
  • 3 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 medium-sized Yukon gold potatoes, quartered
  • 2 cups of beef broth

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 425°. Make one-inch incisions around the meat. Mix garlic with minced rosemary, salt, pepper, olive oil. Rub all over the leg of lamb, stuffing the incisions. Let rest in open air for 30 minutes on the rack of a roasting pan. Roast until lamb begins to brown, about 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°.

2. Add potatoes, seasoned with salt, pepper, and lightly coated in olive oil. Roast for 30 minutes. Add the cup of beef broth and roast another 30 minutes or until the lamb is medium-rare. Remove lamb and let rest for 20 minutes, loosely covered in foil. Toss potatoes and add more broth, as needed; keep in oven until nicely browned.

3. Slice lamb, season to taste, sprinkle with two freshly stripped rosemary sprigs, garnish with remaining sprigs, and serve aside the warm potatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Old World Peas and Pancetta with Mint

Frozen peas are a true hero, subbing in for their fresh counterpart and actually sealing in more nutrition than the real deal, thanks to being flashed frozen with vitamins at their peak.

Serves 8–10

Ingredients

  • 1 small onion, minced
  • ¼ lb of diced pancetta
  • 3 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1–1/4 lb frozen peas
  • salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped mint leaves

Directions

1. Sauté the onion with diced pancetta in a medium pan in two tbsp of olive oil until the pancetta is browned and the onion is soft.

2. Add frozen peas, season with salt and pepper to taste, cook over medium heat, tossing often, until the peas are warm.

3 Take the pan off the heat and swirl in remaining olive oil. Season to taste and garnish with chopped mint leaves.

Fennel and Orange Salad

You can have this salad with the rest of the meal, but dine like a true Italian and enjoy it after your meal. Fennel works as a palate cleanser and helps with digestion. It also leaves you with more room for dessert…

Serves 8–10

Ingredients

  • 3 large fennel bulbs, stalks, and cores removed (reserve fronds from one stalk, minced)
  • 4 navel oranges, peeled, pith removed, segmented
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

1. Slice fennel bulbs lengthwise into narrow slivers. Peel and remove pith from four navel oranges, separate into segments.

2. Combine sliced fennel and orange segments in a large bowl. Whisk together red wine vinegar with olive oil. Dress the orange and fennel mixture with the vinaigrette.

3. Season with salt and white pepper and toss to combine. Sprinkle fennel fronds over salad before serving.