Easter falls well into April this year, on the 21st. At that point, depending on where you live, the market might be full of plush morel mushrooms, verdant ramps, or ruby-hued strawberries. Throwing a celebratory brunch is a snap when you keep it focused on showcasing the knockout spring produce. Here are five festive approaches you could take.
Fresh, colorful crudités are just the thing to add a veggie-centric element to your feast while doing barely any work. Spring carrots might be sweet near you; sugar snaps are almost always a hit; radishes are a crunchy delight. Just pick among the dips that suit your fancy most. Maybe you want dill-goat cheese, or sour cream-buttermilk. Perhaps you’re in a green goddess or funky Gorgonzola mood. There’s no wrong move when the vegetables are this snappy and delightful.
The lovely thing about this month is that winter goodies overlap with those young spring numbers. Take advantage by considering gorgeous, spirit-brightening citrus alongside the coming months’ bounty. Beet-fennel salad with grapefruit pulls this trick off nicely, as does a stunning blood orange salad studded with hazelnuts. Keep in mind that most of these salads hold at room temperature better than those employing tender greens, which tend to wilt shortly after being dressed. Orange and radicchio play well together with almonds or hazelnuts, as do blood orange, fennel and basil.
Smart hosts know there’s nothing like a ham to serve a crowd. So pull together your favorite ham recipe—perhaps one shellacked with pomegranate, balsamic, or maple-bourbon, along with your favorite biscuit recipe. Then simply let guests assemble their own sandwiches. Set out condiments such as Dijon mustard, cornichons and herbed crème fraîche. All you need to do is pick out a biscuit recipe: Parmesan, buttermilk, or cheddar-and-chives?
A frittata is an ideal make-ahead dish, because it’s equally tasty warm or cool. Eggs complement delicate spring produce such as asparagus, leeks, peas, spring onions and chives beautifully. To make a pretty frittata like the one in the picture above, use a mandoline to thinly shave raw asparagus lengthwise and garnish the finished dish. Just be sure to pull your frittata from the refrigerator at least a half hour prior to your party. (When ice-cold, it’s less tasty.)
One more way French toast trounces pancakes in the ease-of-preparation department: You can assemble it the night before serving it. Once you sample the baked version, you might never make the stovetop version again. Lemon curd French toast with a bright berry compote is one excellent example of the dish at its best. It’d be tough to choose between that and this sprightly brioche French toast with fruit syrup and Meyer lemon marmalade or this wonderfully aromatic baked eggnog French toast. We’ve never seen anyone turn down servings of any of them.