Spring finally seems to be here, coincidentally just in time for Easter this year! One of the markers that spring is just around the corner is the start of local markets, and the herbs, baby vegetables, and fruit that seem to be popping up everywhere. So it seems natural to celebrate spring with an Easter meal focused on all of those fresh flavors. Here is a delicious and easy menu for four that would be perfect for a light Easter lunch or dinner:
*Grilled Salmon with Dill, Cucumber, and Yogurt Sauce
*Grilled Baby Artichokes with Parsley, Mint, and Lemon Gremolata
*Potato and Gruyere Gratin with Fresh Thyme
*Strawberry Mint Fool
Grilled Salmon with Dill, Cucumber, and Yogurt Sauce
1/2 cup plain lowfat greek yogurt
1/4-1/2 seedless English cucumber, diced
1/4 cup fresh dill, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 – 1 1/2 pounds Alaskan salmon
1. Mix together the yogurt, cucumber, dill, and lemon juice in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
2. Season the salmon all over with salt and pepper, and brush with some olive oil. Set aside until until everything else is ready. When ready to grill, preheat the grill on high for about 5-10 minutes. Turn down the heat to medium, and place salmon on grill. Cook until salmon starts to flake and is just cooked through, about 5 minutes each side. Serve warm topped with the yogurt sauce.
Grilled Baby Artichokes with Parsley, Mint, and Lemon Gremolata
Note: If you can find baby artichokes at the market, get them! They are easier to work with than globe artichokes because they don’t have the hairy “choke” that you have to remove, and the leaves are much more tender.
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint, roughly chopped
About 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lemon, zested and juiced
12 baby artichokes
1. Mix together the parsley, mint, bread crumbs, garlic, and lemon zest in a small bowl. Add just enough olive oil to create a mixture with the consistency of ketchup. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
2. Fill a large pot with water, and add the lemon juice and lemon halves.
3. Pull off the tough outer leaves of the artichokes and discard. Cut off a little from the top and bottom of the artichoke. Cut artichokes in half lengthwise, and immediately place in the lemon water so they don’t turn black. Repeat with remaining artichokes.
4. Bring the pot of water to a simmer, and cook artichokes until they are soft and easily pierced with a knife. Drain and drizzle with olive oil just to coat.
5. When the salmon goes on the grill, add the artichokes to the grill as well. Grill just until charred and softened a bit more. Remove from the grill and toss with the gremolata, adding more olive oil and salt if desired.
Potato and Gruyere Gratin with Fresh Thyme
2 Yukon gold potatoes
1 cup Gruyere cheese, grated
1/4 cup fresh thyme, leaves picked off stems, plus sprigs for garnish
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Butter a shallow baking dish or casserole.
2. Thinly slice potatoes (use a mandolin if you have one). Arrange about 1/3 of the potato slices in the bottom of the dish, and sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheese and thyme leaves. Continue layering the potatoes and cheese/thyme mixture two more times.
3. Mix together the cream and milk, and season with about 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Slowly pour cream mixture over potatoes, and garnish with fresh thyme sprigs.
4. Place casserole in preheated oven and cook until bubbly, golden brown, and potatoes are cooked through, about 20-30 minutes.
Strawberry Mint Fool
2 cups strawberries, plus extra for garnish
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons fresh mint, chiffonade
1 cup heavy cream
1. Mix strawberries, sugar, and 2 tablespoons of mint (reserve 1 tablespoon for garnish) in a bowl. Mash the berries with a fork leaving some larger pieces, and let sit for a few minutes. Drain off some of the liquid if the mixture is very wet.
2. Whip the cream by hand or with a mixer until soft peaks hold (do not over whip!). Gently fold 1/2 of the strawberry mixture into the cream just until combined.
3. When ready to serve, scoop some of the whipped cream into a glass. Top with some of the mashed strawberries, and then another scoop of cream. Repeat layers if desired. Garnish with sliced strawberries and reserved mint.