Thursday, April 5, 2012

Easter Dinner

Easter is this Sunday.  For most of us, the occasion is marked by baskets of candy for the kids and a dinner of; baked glazed ham, roasted asparagus, potatoes (twice baked, mashed, or au gratin), a salad of fresh spinach and/or spring greens, deviled eggs, hot crossed buns, an appropriate wine (I recommend a Gewurztraminer), and various pies & cakes for dessert.

This week, it struck me as interesting, if not odd, that ham has become the traditional Easter fare.  First of all, Christ was a Jew who kept a kosher diet, in which ham is strictly taboo.  Additionally the Easter story features a meal known as The Last Supper, which was actually a Passover meal, or Seder.

Being a traditional Seder, The Last Supper would've consisted of;

Zeroah: roasted lamb shank, symbolizing the paschal sacrificial offering,

Matzoh: unleavened bread, which symbolizes the Jews' haste when fleeing Egypt,

Maror: bitter herbs, such as horseradish, symbolizing the bitterness of slavery,

Beitzah: a roasted egg, as a symbol of life and the perpetuation of existence,

Karpas: a vegetable, preferably parsley or celery, representing hope and redemption; served with a bowl of salted water to represent the tears shed,

Haroset: a mixture of; apples, wine, cinnamon, and nuts; is a reminder of the mortar used by the Jews in the construction of buildings as slaves, and

Kosher Wine: four glasses of wine are consumed during the service to represent the four-fold promise of redemption.

While Christians, and agnostics whom observe Easter, don't typically keep kosher diets, I couldn't help but notice that the one meal to be sighted within the Easter story has been entirely removed from the Easter tradition.

As it turns out, my observation was flawed.  According to Peggy Trowbridge Filippone of, many Europeans do prepare a meal of roasted lamb on Easter, as a nod to the Passover meal.  Americans, on the other hand, adopted ham as our Easter staple simply because the previous fall's cured hams happened to be ready around Easter time.   Thus, the tradition stemmed from practicality, rather than religious symbology.

A big part of me would love to try a roasted lamb dinner, this Easter.  However, lamb for nine people is prohibitively expensive in my neck of the woods, so we'll be sticking with the American classic ham dinner.  Well... kinda.  Instead of doing roasted asparagus PLUS a starchy side, we're going to serve a side of Alfredo based Asparagus Lasagna.
I came across this recipe 10 or so years ago, from Ceci Carmichael's Food Network show, and found it to be a wonderful alternative to a typical red sauced lasagna.  Unlike its heavier counterpart, this version is light and creamy with a salty kick, delivered by the goat cheese.  In fact, it's my all time favorite version of lasagna.

Asparagus Lasagna

4 pounds medium asparagus, trimmed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chicken broth, heated
1/2 cup water, heated
7 ounces mild goat cheese, such as Montrachet
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest, or to taste
6 (7 by 6 1/4-inch) sheets instant (no-boil) lasagna noodles
1 2/3 cups freshly grated Parmesan
1 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.  Cut the tips off each asparagus spear and reserve them. Cut the stalks of asparagus into 1/2-inch lengths. In each of 2 large shallow baking pans toss half the asparagus stalks with half the oil, and salt to taste coating them well, and roast them, shaking the pans every few minutes, until they are crisp-tender, about 5 to 10 minutes. Set them aside. Lower oven temperature to 400 degrees F. In a saucepan melt the butter, add the flour, and cook the roux over moderately low heat, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the broth and the water in a stream, whisking, simmer the mixture for 5 minutes, and whisk in the goat cheese, zest, and salt, to taste, whisking until the sauce is smooth.

Arrange 1 sheet of pasta in each of buttered 9 by 13-inch baking dishes, and spread each sheet with 1/4 of the sauce. Top the sauce in each dish with 1/4 of the reserved roasted asparagus, and sprinkle the asparagus with 1/3 cup of the Parmesan. Continue to layer the pasta, sauce, asparagus, and Parmesan in the same manner, ending with a sheet of pasta. In a bowl beat the cream with a pinch of salt until it holds soft peaks. Arrange the reserved asparagus tips on the pasta, spoon the cream over the pasta and the asparagus tips, spreading it with the back of a spoon, and sprinkle the remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan on top.  Bake the lasagna in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes, or until it is golden and bubbling, and let it stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Prep time: 15 minutes Cook time: 45 minutes Inactive time: 10 minutes

HAPPY EASTER!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Asparagus Lasagna recipe prints as page 3 of 6, for your fridge or recipe file.


  1. Happy Easter to you too! This was an interesting read, I learned a lot from it. Although you won't be able to enjoy the lamb, I'm sure you'll make a killer ham. And paired with that kick ass asparagus lasagna, it will be even better. Enjoy your Easter love. Mwahz <3

  2. Thanks hun, I'm looking forward to it. Enjoy your Easter too. :-)