Giada De Laurentiis Just Announced Her Easter Menu, and It Includes a Quick, 5-Ingredient Salad
There's nothing like those first few weeks of spring, when the air gets warmer, the pollen count gets high and the produce section gets a little greener. We're already dreaming about all the spinach, asparagus and carrots we'll be adding to our menus this season, whether it's in a fluffy quiche or a creamy soup.
And for those of us who celebrate Easter, we're already trying to decide which veggies will make the final cut and end up in our holiday lineup. To help all of us get past our menu-writer's block, Giada De Laurentiis has already shared the recipes she'll be making for the big day—and these fairly simple recipes could definitely please a crowd.
De Laurentiis' spread will include an Artichoke and Fennel Crudo, Pizza Rustica, Italian Springtime Lamb and Cassata Zuccotto Cake. She also recommends an Easter essential: some festive chocolate. (Her own online shop carries plenty of Italian sweets that would be perfect additions to an Easter basket, including an oversized $76 chocolate egg.)
The television chef's blog, Giadzy, notes that she tried to include a few classic Pasqua, or Easter, dishes in this year's menu while still focusing on including as much fresh, bright spring flavor as possible. And even though dishes like the Pizza Rustica and lamb are stunners that take a little extra time to prepare, the simpler fare on the menu comes together in no time. The Artichoke and Fennel Crudo, for instance, can be prepped in just 15 minutes. This raw salad requires just five ingredients—lemon juice, baby arugula, trimmed baby artichokes, fennel and shaved Parmesan—plus pantry staples olive oil, salt and pepper. When your fennel and baby artichokes are sliced up and ready to go, it only takes a handful of minutes to toss everything with lemon juice and olive oil, then serve up to your friends and family.
Likewise, the simple dessert of Cassata Zuccotto Cake can be made with store-bought pound cake, so there's no need to bake anything. This cold cake gets assembled in a plastic wrap-lined bowl with layers of fluffy, chocolate chip-studded ricotta, chocolate whipped cream and amaretto liqueur-brushed pound cake slices. You'll need a makeshift double boiler to melt the chocolate and and electric mixer to whip up the whipped cream and ricotta mixtures, but otherwise, this recipe is pretty simple. Best of all, it gets better when you let it chill in the fridge overnight, so you've already got one dish squared away on the big day.
The Pizza Rustica, which De Laurentiis describes as a cross between deep-dish pizza and quiche, takes a little more time. You'll need about 45 minutes to prep this pie, plus an hour to bake it. You'll start by making a simple crust to fit into your springform pan, letting the crust rest in the fridge while you fix up all the fillings. She stuffs her dish with a mixture of sausage, prosciutto and spinach combined with creamy ricotta, egg yolks, mozzarella and Parmesan. This double-crust pie gets topped with the last of the pie dough and a sprinkling of Parmesan for a pretty, cheesy dish that your guests will go wild for.
The Pizza Rustica and the lamb bake at different temperatures—350°F for the lamb and 375°F for the pie—so folks without two ovens will need to be intentional if they plan to make both. You could opt to make the lamb first, then keep it warm and tented in foil on an oven-safe plate, sliding it back into the oven to reheat just before serving. De Laurentiis' recipe calls for 5 pounds of lamb, so just be sure you have your roasting pan ready to go. You'll coat the lamb with a garlicky spinach mixture and whole-grain mustard before rolling it tightly and searing it, then roasting for about 75 minutes. As it cooks, you'll prepare a simple gremolata with breadcrumbs, lemon zest and parsley, which you can sprinkle over the lamb when you're ready to slice and serve.
Whether you go all in on De Laurentiis' menu or just rifle through for tidbits of inspiration, this menu is hard to resist. You can't go wrong with a show-stopping dish (or two), a light salad and a make-ahead dessert. Now we just have to decide on the perfect spring drink to pair it all with.