Asparagus for Easter

Easter menu

Easter is a great day for feasting! I have so many wonderful memories of fabulous Easter meals living in Switzerland. This dinner menu is a tribute to the wonderful fresh local food that you find every day.

Lamb Loin with Jus

Asparagus with Favas in Saffron Sauce

Roasted Rosemary Potatoes (It is a holiday!)

Strawberry Ice Cream with White Chocolate Bark

I eat so carefully every day but frankly can’t wait for the holidays to celebrate my passion for food.  Sticking to a mostly Paleo diet is a good idea for me personally but I am going to eat some things that I don’t include too much in my diet: potatoes, Paleo ice cream, white chocolate, tomato “water” and a little bit of Earth Balance soy-free spread. You have to live, too!

 

All the recipes are in three stages of the diet plan

First stage: The beginning, healing diet indicated with an “H

Second stage: A maintenance diet when the inflammation is gone and you are moving into a gluten and dairy free diet indicated by an “M

Third stage: Paleo indicated by a “P

Favas in Saffron Sauce

with

Asparagus

Favas!

 

Favas are exotic and a little mysterious. There is that crazy, big pod and once you hull them, you have to cook them a little to get rid of the husk surrounding the actual fava beans. They are rich in folate and fiber and well worth the little bit of hassle in preparation. I decided to create a Spanish sauce that begins with a sofrito which means it has some tomato in it. Now, I am not bothered by this anymore, so try it, you may have no problems because I can promise you a taste revolution with this sauce. Favas are also great prepared with a little shallot and balsamic vinegar if you cannot tolerate this small amount of tomatoes.

Even though I am inspired by Switzerland this Easter, the favas are from my days in Barcelona. You will need:

3/4 lb. of favas in their pods (they are sometimes called broad beans)

2 ripe tomatoes

1 shallot, finely and evenly diced

1 garlic clove, mashed

2 pinches of saffron

A touch of honey

Olive oil, salt, pepper

Pop all the beans from their pods and discard the pods. Bring salted water in a medium sauce pan to boil. Add the favas and cook for 3″. Drain and rub the skins (husks) from the small green fava beans. Set aside.

In olive oil, sauté the shallot on low heat. Do not allow the shallots to brown. Add the garlic and immediately grate the 2 tomatoes into the pan (this is the sofrito). The skins will remain intact and you will only get the best part of the tomato. discard used tomatoes. Add the saffron, a little honey and finish it with some fruity olive oil. Adjust the seasoning and set the favas aside to dress the asparagus.

Time the steaming of the asparagus when the potatoes are almost done (See below). Snap the stems of each asparagus to discard the woody lower end instead of cutting the ends off. Cook them in a small amount of water, just enough to cover. I use a sauté pan and lay them flat. Barely cook them, drain and spoon the favas and sauce over the middle of the asparagus. I like to finish the asparagus with a little grey salt or fleur de sel.

Lamb Loin with Jus

(Niedrigtemperaturgaren)

H M P

Ask the butcher to carve the “eye” from a lamb loin. This is not a rack of lamb as a rack has a cap on it and if you de-bone it, yes you will get some eye but you will also get a small flap of meat that you don’t really need. One of the great challenges I had on both sides of the ocean was finding the cut of meat that I required for certain recipes, both American and European. The Europeans butcher their animals differently, so we have to get a little inventive today to create this particular recipe but it is well worth it. Save the bones for the jus!

This is a cooking method I found best for lamb. It is called Niedrigtemperaturgaren = low temperature cooking. It is so simple and very hands-off! But first, start the jus for the timing of this dinner to be right.

Jus

Take the bones and separate them with a sharp knife. Even easier, ask the butcher to do this. Salt the bones and brown them in some olive oil. Add

1 c. of red wine

2 c. of organic beef broth

Reduce this liquid over high heat with the bones. When it is reduced about half, add

1/8 c. of brandy or cognac (actually any Weinbrand would do like Armangac, Calvados)

Reduce this until it is almost a syrup. Remove from heat. Any cook would tell you at this point to put in a knob of butter but since we are tring to go dairy-free, I used soy-free Earth Balance and it gave the sauce a nice finish and a sheen.

Set the oven to 225 degrees. Salt and pepper the lamb loin well and sauté it in olive oil. Get a good crust on it and be sure to turn it with tongs. You do not want to pierce the meat with a sharp fork or the juices will escape. Use a sauté pan that you can put in the oven. Now, put the loin in the oven for 30″. It will be perfectly done and you do not have to mess with it. Remove it from the oven and let it rest while you prepare the potatoes.

Roasted Rosemary Potatoes

H M

Potatoes are not part of the Paleo diet but as I said, this is a holiday! Have these potatoes ready to go when you take the lamb out to rest. You will need

A sheet pan

Yukon Gold potatoes

Minced fresh rosemary

Olive oil, salt, fresh pepper

Set the oven at 425 degrees. Slice the potatoes and lay flat on the sheet pan. Brush both sides with olive oil, sprinkle with rosemary and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 10″, then turn the potatoes and roast for another 7″ or until they are golden brown.

Heat the plates, slice the lamb, pour the jus over the lamb, spoon the favas and sauce over the asparagus and enjoy a healthy but beautiful meal!

Easter dinner

Here is a quick dessert!

Vegan Strawberry Ice Cream

with

Strawberries in Balsamic Vinegar

Vegan strawberry ice cream

One quart of strawberries, halved, some reserved for the garnish

Honey powder (Available in specialty spice stores)

Juice of 1 lemon

About 3/4 can of coconut milk

High quality balsamic vinegar (like Maletti)

Black pepper

Sprinkle strawberries with 3 T. of honey powder. Freeze strawberries for at least 3 hours.

When you are ready to serve the ice cream, take the reserved strawberries and dress them with the balsamic vinegar. Then grind some pepper over the strawberries. Believe me, it is sublime.

Put all other ingredients in the Vitamix or food processor and blend quickly. Adjust the amount of coconut milk to have the consistency you want. Spoon balsamic strawberries over the ice cream. Serve immediately!

If you want something sweet and slightly evil, then here it is. Since we are not supped to have any chocolate, this is a way around that. White chocolate is really not chocolate, has sugar and milk solids, so if you have a dairy allergy or going without dairy, skip this! If cheating a little appeals to you on this holiday, here it is

Jeweled White Chocolate Bark

You will need:

2 bars of white chocolate

Pistachios, chopped (go for unsalted if you can find them)

Dried cranberries

Dried apricots, diced fine

Optional sea salt, grey salt or flour de del if you use unsalted nuts

Melt the white chocolate in the top of a double boiler. Spread melted chocolate thinly on a Silpat and top with nuts, berries and apricots. Allow to chill for 2 hours before you eat the whole thing.

White chocolate bark

Enjoy the holidays, Happy Easter and Happy Passover!

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