Thursday, March 25, 2010

Primavera Easter Dinner

In my opinion, Easter dinner doesn’t have to be very time consuming or labor intensive. Thus, I put together a simple menu filled with spring flavors that I am excited to share with you.

Let’s start with two appetizers that you can prepare ahead of time:

Marinated olives:

1 cup of black olives, pitted and drained
1 cup of green olives, pitted and drained
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ teaspoon of paprika
1 large spring of fresh thyme
3 springs of fresh oregano
1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil
Lemon zest, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 dried bay leave

Remove oregano and thyme leaves from stem and roughly chop the leaves. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients and refrigerate overnight. Serve it cold or at room temperature. Discard bay leave before serving.

Mozzarella & Tomato skewer:

8 ounces of fresh mozzarella, cut into 48 (1/2 inch) cubes
24 cherry tomatoes, halved
12 large basil leaves, cut into 48 (1/2 inch) pieces
Olive oil, to taste
Sea salt, to taste
24 (6-inch) skewers

In a medium bowl, gently toss mozzarella cubes and tomatoes with olive oil and salt. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

To make the skewers, place a tomato halve, then basil, then mozzarella, followed by basil, another tomato halve and a mozzarella cube.

Serve it cold or at room temperature.

After enjoying these delightful appetizers, let’s move to the main course. The star of this course is an original vegetarian dish that will certainly please your guests, especially if there are vegetarians among them. I am talking about a Spinach and Ricotta Gnocchi (Italian dumplings), a restaurant quality dish that you can make at home. The second dish is porcini mushroom chicken, just one of the many meat alternatives that pairs well with this gnocchi.

 Spinach and Ricotta Gnocchi:

2 ½ lb of fresh spinach, stalks removed
1 ½ tablespoon of olive oil
15oz of ricotta cheese
1 ¼ cup of parmesan cheese, grated
3 eggs
½ teaspoon of garlic powder
½ teaspoon of dried basil
¼ teaspoon of dried marjoram
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/8 cup of all purpose OR whole wheat flour, plus more for dusting
1 cup of salted butter
1 tablespoon of fresh oregano, chopped
1 tablespoon of fresh thyme, chopped

In a large heavy sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Place washed spinach in the pan and cook over low heat for about 7 minutes (or until just wilted).

Drain spinach in a colander. Set aside. Meanwhile lightly beat eggs with garlic powder, basil, marjoram, salt and pepper. Press out remaining liquid from spinach and chop it.

In a large bowl, mix chopped spinach, ricotta, eggs and half of the parmesan cheese. Beat until fully combined. Season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.

Shift the four and add to the mixture. Add more if necessary to obtain a workable mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

With floured hands, roll mixture into 1 inch balls. Meanwhile, bring a large pan of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the dumplings and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until they rise to the surface. Remove from pan, drain well, transfer to serving plate and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the oregano and thyme and lower the heat. Cook for about 1 minute stirring constantly. Pour over gnocchi, sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

Serves 6.

Porcini mushroom Pan Chicken

2 ½ lb of chicken breast, boneless and skinless
¾ cup of chicken stock
6oz of porcini mushroom, sliced
¼ teaspoon of paprika
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of fresh sage, chopped
1 tablespoon of butter (optional)
1 ½ tablespoon of olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Season chicken with paprika, salt and pepper and place it in the pan. Cook for 5 minutes on each side. Transfer chicken to a plate and set aside.

Place garlic in the pan and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the mushroom to pan and cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Move mushroom to the side of the pan and place chicken breast back in the pan. Add chicken stock and sage and cook for 10 to 15 minutes covered. Lower the heat, uncover the pan and simmer for another 7 to 10 minutes. Add the butter and stir until fully melted. Check seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if desired. Serve it immediately.

Serves 6.

To finish this delicious meal, you can serve a creamy and luscious Mocha Chocolate Terrine.   I think that this dessert deserves special attention, so I will have an entire post dedicated to it tomorrow.


  1. yum. I think I may have to try the top 1 tomorrow with some grilled fish.

    Stopping over from Etsy forums, by the way

  2. Wow, what a beautiful meal. I am not a very good cook but your pictures are very inspiring. I think my husband may just faint if I presented such a lovely meal!

  3. Lori, this food is easy to prepare so I am sure you can make it too.

    Enjoy it!

  4. Visiting from! Yummy stuff you have here. Wish you were here to cook it for me;-) Passing your blog info onto our Dish it gal, Carol so you guys can network and get to know one other.

    Great blog!
    Anne P

  5. Anne, I love your blog! Thank you for visiting mine too.

    Have a nice weekend!