Sunday, Apr 22, 2018
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Easter resolutions are easy with these recipes

Ditch the traditional holiday sides and try something new.

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    Honey Ginger Rhubarb Sauce.

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  • FEA-easterdishes15-1

    Endive & Radicchio Salad

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  • FEA-easterdishes15-2

    Roasted asparagus and mushrooms.

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Roasted asparagus and mushrooms.

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’Tis the season to color eggs, to eat the ears off chocolate bunnies, and to bake a ham.

Easter dinner tends to be as traditional as the Thanksgiving meal; a “meat ‘n’ three,” to borrow a phrase from the South which describes a restaurant where a meat entree is served with a choice of three side dishes. And those side dishes are very often potatoes, carrots, and macaroni and cheese. Maybe ambrosia. Maybe sweet potatoes. Maybe deviled eggs. But each of these is firmly entrenched in the pantheon of expected complements to the star of the show. Each family has a version, and will fiercely defend its merits, but it’s inevitably a “meat ‘n’ three.”


Honey Ginger Rhubarb Sauce.

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Now, there’s no disputing that these old favorites go beautifully with the ham; they’re classics for a reason. But it’s always good to offer something new, something different, something lighter, something fresher. Something that’s easy to make, still, in the midst of the chaos that comes with putting on a feast for a multitude of guests. But something special, too, to celebrate such an important holiday.

The Honey Ginger Rhubarb Sauce offers some of the sweet-tart flavor of the pineapple that is usually baked with the centerpiece ham. It provides the beauty of springtime flavor, featuring rhubarb just as its gorgeous color is returning after the long, cold (record-setting, depressingly long, cold) winter. Even people who make faces at the mere mention of the word “rhubarb” really like this, and are surprised by it. The vegetable’s tart reputation precedes it unfairly, as it can be toned down and soothed with sweeter partners.


Endive & Radicchio Salad

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A classic endive dish from Belgium involves wrapping the vegetable in slices of ham, pouring a rich cheese sauce over it, then baking the casserole until everything is golden and bubbly. To save on fat, calories, and labor, instead take the endive and combine it with some radicchio for color, then dress it with some Lemon Pepper Vinaigrette for flavor impact. The taste of Meyer Lemon, which the recipe calls for, is a bit like a mix of lemons and oranges, offering a twist on the familiar; a standard lemon could be used in its place. Toasted hazelnuts add still further crunch to the fresh vegetables when they’re sprinkled on top of the salad. Although they’re expensive if bought in large quantities, buying just a handful from a bulk container offers a bit of luxury for a very reasonable price.

Roasting asparagus intensifies the flavor, and this method of cooking is particularly well suited to hearty Portobello mushrooms. Uniting these two with a whole grain mustard vinaigrette before putting them into the oven makes a rich and earthy dish. Mustard is a great condiment, enhancing everything from sandwiches to salads to cream sauces for pasta, offering a huge taste even in small quantities. And topping this dish with cooked eggs leaves you two fewer eggs to re-purpose after your Easter egg hunt.

So make your holiday dinner simpler, easier, and lighter by including these side dishes in your festive “meat ‘n’ three.” They offer an abundance of color and flavor, perfect for a family celebration.

Contact Mary Bilyeu at or 419-724-6155 or on Twitter @foodfloozie.



  • 1 cup coarsely chopped strawberries
  • 3/4-pound rhubarb, cut into 1/2" dice
  • 1 tablespoon minced candied ginger
  • 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 orange
  • Very small pinch black pepper
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries, chopped

Honey Ginger Rhubarb Sauce

Place the strawberries, rhubarb, ginger, vinegar, and honey into a medium saucepan. Add the finely grated zest and the juice of the orange, along with the pepper. Bring to a boil, then add cherries. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook, stirring, for 15 minutes or until thickened; it will be the consistency of applesauce. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: About 1-1/2 cups.

Source: Mary Bilyeu


 Endive and Radicchio Salad with Lemon Pepper Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup hazelnuts
  • 1 small head radicchio, outer leaves removed
  • 3 small endives, ends trimmed
  • Vinaigrette:
  • Juice and zest of 1 Meyer lemon
  • 3 tablespoons light olive oil
  • Generous pinch of kosher salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes

Toast the hazelnuts in a skillet over low heat for 10 minutes. Place into a dishtowel and wrap them up to steam a bit; rub the hazelnuts in the towel to remove some of the skins. Chop the hazelnuts and toast them in the skillet over low heat for 5 minutes or so, just until fragrant. Set aside.

Quarter the radicchio, remove the core from each piece, and slice thin; place into a large mixing bowl. Slice the endives in half lengthwise and slice thin; add to the mixing bowl.

Whisk together the lemon juice and zest, the oil, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes; pour over the vegetables and toss. Place onto a serving platter and sprinkle with the hazelnuts.

Yield: 4-6 servings.

Source: Mary Bilyeu


  • 8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, stems removed
  • 1 large bunch asparagus, ends trimmed
  • Generous pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons light olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

Roasted Mushrooms and Asparagus in Mustard Vinaigrette


Preheat oven to 400F.

Cut the mushrooms into 1" pieces and place into a 9"x13" baking dish. Cut the asparagus into 2" lengths and add to the baking dish.

Whisk together salt, vinegar, oil, and mustard; pour over asparagus and mushrooms, and toss to coat.

Roast for 15 minutes, until asparagus is just tender. Place into a serving dish and top with eggs. Serve warm.

Note: Make this dish while the ham rests before carving, or cook it while the ham is still baking. If you make it and re-heat it, the color of the asparagus will fade instead of remaining vibrant. It will still taste good, but it won't be very pretty.

Yield: 4-6 servings.

Source: Mary Bilyeu




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