Food & Garden
Easter At Home: A Sustainable Celebration Menu
With most of us needing to stay home this Easter, we know that many will be feeling the loss of spending a Spring Holiday with our families. However, we wanted to come up with some beautiful ideas to execute a stay at home, sustainably minded, and beautiful Easter. So we have once again asked our Food & Garden Editor, Robert, to walk us through how he is celebrating the holiday and cooking with his partner at their London flat.
I love the spring holidays, particularly Easter. As I know these ones are lamentably going to be very different, I have decided to keep it super simple and make it a celebration of seasonal veggies. I’ve taken the lead from the garden and its spring offering and what I am able to source from my local suppliers and ultimately right now what I have in my store cupboard – pasta and lentils. It’s absolutely essential in these times not to be fixated or overly stressed about getting this veg or that ingredient.
Here’s some simple home recipes to create a lovely Easter celebratory meal and of course some homemade cake, to finish off our holiday meal – cause it’s not a celebration without something sweet. This might be a very different Easter for many of us but it doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate it joyfully as we should. Happy Easter everyone!
REV Food and Garden Editor, Robert
Two Spring Cocktails
45 ml of vodka (I’m using Sapling, which is a local British Vodka)
30 ml of lemon juice
8 whole mint leaves
Decent quarter of lemon
Method: Crush mint leaves in mortar or a heavy bowl. Juice one lemon. Fill a lowball glass with the lemon and mint and stir well, add in some ice, then pour over the vodka. Stir again, add soda water and garnishing mint leaves.
Vodka Gin Martini with Herbs
60ml of Vodka and same of good botanical Gin
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Herbs – Bay leaf / rosemary
Method: Pour out a double shot of Vodka and of Gin then squeeze the lemon juice all over lots of ice – either in a cocktail shaker or larger glass – chilling the liquids. Crush a fresh bay leaf or rosemary branch and then pop into a cocktail shaker and shake well for at least 30 seconds. Pour it into a martini glass (or whatever you have!) removing all ice and leaf. Serve with fresh bay leaf and fresh rosemary if you can get your hands on some.
Starter of Roasted Asparagus & Almonds and Green Salsa Dip
1 Bunch of early British asparagus
Good gulp of olive oil to lightly dress the steams (roughly 1 tbsp)
Handful of unsalted whole almonds (8 or so whole ones)
Sea salt and black pepper
Preheat 200ºC for Fan ovens.
Break the woody ends off the asparagus – the stems will naturally snap.
Put the trimmed spears into a roasting tin with about a tablespoon of good olive oil and season well. Roast for around 10 minutes so to get them properly tender.
While the asparagus is roasting, take a handful of natural almonds – around 8 or 10 almonds and simply cut into halves and Juice one lemon.
Once the asparagus is roasted, you see them all deliciously softened and getting that dark green hue (check by sliding carefully a sharp knife through the end of the asparagus stem) – place all onto a warmed salad dish and dress with lemon juice and sprinkle the almonds.
You can also consider adding capers (2 tsp of capers) or little chunks of goats cheese (such as feta or a soft goat’s cheese) for making a heartier salad.
In case you couldn’t get your hands around some asparagus, you can easily replace it with some artichokes.
For the Green Salsa Dip:
8 leaves of Cavello Nero
Handful of walnuts smashed up (8 walnuts)
Juice of one lemon
2 tbsp of good extra virgin olive oil
Simply sauté the leaves with garlic and little gulp of oil and throw it all into a blender until it turns into a glorious green purée.
Side of Easter Greens Salad
A refreshing salad to either go with the asparagus or as a separate part of the meal would be a nice addition. I love a good salad and this one is all about Easter greens. To add more flavour, I recommend adding a French dressing.
4 Generous handfuls of spring leaves (rocket, watercress, mustard, baby red chard) or whatever you have or can source
1 Fennel head (use half)
Wash the leaves well and dry before putting it into your salad dish or plates (if easier). Take your Fennel (washed well) , slice it into arcs, then quarter the radishes (make sure to remove leaves & tail and wash well ). Then layout in circles the half arcs of fennel and radish quarters.
For the Dressing:
4 tbsp of good olive oil
Juice of one lemon
1 tsp Mustard (ideally Dijon)
Any herbs (dried or fresh) mint or parsley (2 or 3 springs chopped finely works just fine)
Season well (sea salt and cracked black pepper)
Simply pour all the above ingredients into a spare jam jar or pot and whisk well (and pour over the salad when ready to serve).
Main of Purple Sprouting Broccoli with Lentils and Fresh Orecchiette
This is a favourite recipe of my Italian nonna. The star of the dish is the purple sprouting broccoli but you could replace it with any other kind of spring green, such as Swiss chard. Adding the lentils makes this a heartier, more filling dish, but you can leave them out if you want a lighter lunch or dinner option. Alternatively you can skip the pasta and make this all about the spring vegetables. Serves 2 as plant based main.
2 Garlic cloves, squeezed (one for greens) crushed (for the lentils)
180g Orecchiette or whatever small pasta shape you have in the cupboard (penne or shells also works well)
250g Purple sprouting broccoli or spring greens (whatever you have at hand)
Good splash of olive oil (for greens and lentils)
Dried chili for taste
Wedge of hard cheese, such as salted Ricotta or Parmesan
Sea salt and black pepper
200g of small lentils (brown or puy)
3 bay leaves (dried or fresh)
Greens – Wash the Broccoli well and steam it for 5 – 6 mins. Then add the steamed broccoli to a large pan with the crushed garlic and a splash of olive oil and season (two twists of salt and pepper), on a low heat and cook for further 5 mins until the broccoli becomes tender.
Lentils – Put the lentils into a large saucepan with 500ml of water and add the bay leaves and garlic. Slowly bring to a boil, then lower the heat and leave it to simmer until the lentils turn tender – (which will usually take around 30 minutes). Watch the pan so that the lentils don’t dry out. You should leave the lentils in the pan to keep warm until the pasta is ready. You can remove the herbs and garlic as you like for the serving.
Pasta – Have a pan of well salted water to the boil, pour the pasta into it and cook for roughly 9 minutes (follow the cooking instructions for your specific type of pasta) – Al Dente is your aim.
Mix the Pasta with a spoonful of lentils and then hip on top of the green broccoli. Finish off with a swirl of good olive oil and lots of grated cheese. You can also serve it with a handful of roughly chopped parsley (optional).
A Sweet Treat of Carrot Cake
I am a big fan of a carrot cake and it’s an absolute winner for this Homebound Easter! It works perfectly as a lovely dessert with either a good dollop of yoghurt or some double cream if you can get your hands on it. Spring carrots are sweet and delicious, so make sure to add a bunch to your grocery list this week and whizz them into an Easter treat. Carrot cakes are a cake that everyone has some or the other recipe and it’s highly adaptable. Below is one of my go to recipes, you can scale it up or down by adding walnuts inside the cake mixture, for example.
125g of good patisserie flour
3 tsp of baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
Good pinch of salt
1 tsp. grating of nutmeg
65g unsalted better
2 tsp vanilla extract
400g of finely grated carrot
100g of finely smashed walnuts (can be optional) or little chunks (break the nut into 6+ pieces)
Handful of raisins if you can find some in your cupboard.
350g of soft cream (get out of the fridge at least one hour before using so to get it softened)
125g of unsalted butter (get out of the fridge at least one hour before using so to get it softened)
8 halved walnuts
8 quarter walnuts
Start by preheating the oven to 170c. Grease up a cake tin (such as a spring pan or roasting tin) with any sort of oil you have.
Place all dry ingredients together and mix it in one bowl (excluding sugar) until you get a fine sandy texture. Place all eggs, butter, sugar, and vanilla into another bowl and whisk super well.
Mix together the content of the two bowls in 3 batches (rather than in one go and – take a moment here to gently combine it each time), then fold in the carrots in 3 batches until you get a consistent cake mixture (at this stage you can add any extra walnuts or raisins if you would like).
Pour the cake mixture into the cake tin (or baking roasting tray) – just make sure it’s well lined or greased up to prevent it from sticking.
Cook for around 40 to 45 minutes – until the top of the cake has a golden-brown hue (simply check it with a knife – if it comes out clean, the cake is well cooked and you are ready to go).
Allow the cake to cool down fully before you start icing the cake.
For the icing: cream the cheese and butter until super smooth and then sieve in the icing sugar gently and blend it all together. Adding a drop of vanilla extract is always a nice touch.
Slice the cake down the middle into two halves – filling the middle with a layer of icing. then slather the cake top with the remaining icing (the more ripples and rustic looking the better). layout the nuts on top of the cake and dust with icing sugar.