Fruit, Veggie-Loaded Easter Dinner

Spring fruits and vegetables are finding their way back onto grocery store shelves now.

So, what better ingredients for an Easter dinner?

On The Early Show Tuesday, cookbook author and cooking teacher Tori Ritchie offered recipes for a tasty meal for the day.

She shared her ideas at the flagship store in Manhattan of specialty home furnishings retailer and The Early Show partner Williams-Sonoma.

The menu? Roasted asparagus salad, glazed ham and a light strawberry cake.

ASPARAGUS SALAD

The key to this dish is roasting the asparagus in the oven to really bring out its full flavor

GINGER-PEACH HAM

Ham is a very traditional Easter dish. You can buy ham in a variety of sizes. A whole leg typically weighs about 15 pounds and will serve 20 to 24 people. You can also buy half of a ham leg, which weighs 7 to 9 pounds. You can even buy a smaller, boneless leg that's easy to slice. Two things to avoid when buying ham: anything labeled "country ham," which is very, very salty, and anything labeled "picnic ham," which is less tasty, lower quality ham. Of course, you can always buy a spiral-cut glazed ham, but it's going to be much more expensive.

When you buy ham, it's actually already cooked; in theory you could eat it right away. But it's much better to heat it through first, and add flavors. Ritchie suggests scoring the ham with a knife and slipping small pieces of cinnamon sticks right into the ham. She then bakes the ham in the oven: 10 minutes a pound at 325 degrees. About two-thirds of the way through cooking, pull the ham from the oven and apply a glaze. Spread the glaze on the ham and pop it back in the oven until it reaches an internal temperature of 140 degrees.

The ham can be eaten hot or at room temperature.

STRAWBERRY GENOISE WITH WHIPPED CREAM

Genoise is a very light cake made with eggs, sugar, a bit of flour and butter. It's similar in texture to sponge cake. Ritchie had a baked, round cake on a board. She showed how to cut the cake in half. That step can seem intimidating, but Ritchie demonstrated a trick to do it successfully. Once cut in half, you want to brush the cake with a mixture of sugar syrup and kirsch, a cherry-flavored brandy. Finally, you frost the cake (including a middle layer) with a delicious combo of whipped cream and strawberries. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

RECIPES

ROAST ASPARAGUS SALAD WITH CHÈVRE


Pass hot, crust-seeded semolina or whole-grain bread at the table for mopping up extra dressing from the plate.

1 1/2 lb. asparagus
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
About 1/2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil

For the dressing:
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
3 to 4 Tbs. snipped fresh chives
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
6 green onions, including about 2 inches of the green portions, chopped
7 to 8 cups mixed baby salad greens
2 cups cherry tomatoes, red or mixed red and yellow, stems removed
1/4 lb. herbed goat cheese (chèvre), cut into
6 slices

Preheat an oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and brush with olive oil.

Snap off any tough ends from the asparagus spears and trim the break with a sharp knife. Using a vegetable peeler and starting just below the tip, peel the skin off each spear, down to the end. Arrange the spears in a single layer on the prepared pan, season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with the extra-virgin olive oil. Roast until tender, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

To make the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, olive oil and mustard. Stir in the chives and season with pepper.

Spoon about 2 Tbs. of the dressing over the asparagus and let stand while tossing the salad.

In a large bowl, gently toss together the green onions and the salad greens. Add the tomatoes. Drizzle just enough of the dressing onto the salad so the greens glisten and toss again. (You may not need to use all of the dressing.) Immediately mound the salad in the center of large individual salad plates. Place a slice of chèvre on top of each mound of greens and arrange asparagus spears around the perimeter of each plate, dividing them equally. Drizzle a few extra drops of the remaining dressing over the chèvre. Serve immediately.

Serves 6.

Adapted from "Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, Everyday Roasting," by Janeen Sarlin (Time-Life Books, 1998)

For the other recipes, to go Page 2.

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