When you say you are having an Easter feast, you may need to be a bit more specific. There is the Easter most observant Christians celebrate, and then there is Orthodox Easter, celebrated in Orthodox Communities, such as Greek or Russian. So why are there two different dates to observe Easter?
Interestingly no matter who you ask, Easter is celebrated on “The first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox,” but the two churches base the dates on different calendars: Western churches use the Georgian calendar (the standard calendar for much of the world), and Orthodox churches use the older Julian calendar. And there are differences in the way the Easters are celebrated (as there are differences in the ways different cultures celebrate all holidays).
Beg, borrow, and steal like an artist, is what I say – in this case taking inspiration from Greece for your Easter feast menu, no matter whether you are celebrating it on the official Greek Easter date, or the more traditionally American/Western date. The flavors of Greek feast cuisine are absolutely amazing, and perfect to overlay on top of an Easter menu.
My Big Fat Greek Feast
So, here’s the menu we’re working with, no matter what date you pull together your friends and family for the Easter feast:
- Skordalia with Pita Bread
- Greek Wedge Salad with Creamy Dressing
- Crusted Herb, Mustard and Citrus Leg of Lamb with Lemony Minted Orzo and Roasted Asparagus with Halloumi
Not bad, right? Here are some tips for getting things done ahead of time, so you can be the most relaxed Greek feast hostess EVER.
Skordalia: This garlicky Greek dip (and versatile condiment) can be made up to a day ahead of time and tucked into the fridge. Give it a quick blend before serving in a blender or food processor as it will separate in the fridge. Leftover skordalia could definitely last other day or so – and also think about using it as a marinade for some other meat, or making leftover sandwiches with the lamb and this spread (delish)!
Greek Wedge Salad with Creamy Dressing: You can cut the lettuce into wedges a day before and keep them well wrapped in the fridge. The dressing can be made a day or two ahead, and you can slice the vegetables and olives, and crumble the feta, and keep those in the fridge for a day or so as well. Assemble just before serving.
Crusted Herb and Citrus Boneless Leg of Lamb: It’s nice serendipity that lamb is a traditional Easter main course, and one of the most classic meats in Greek feast cooking.
You actually do marinate the lamb a day ahead of time to give it deeper flavor, so that’s one step done and out of the way. For the crust, combine the mustard, olive oil, and parsley for the base and put it in a container the day before, then add the panko and mix up the crust just before slathering it on the lamb and roasting. While the lamb needs to sit for at least 20 minutes before slicing, it can in fact sit for up to an hour and still be warm, so your sit-down-for-dinner schedule can be flexible. The orzo can be made a day ahead, then popped into the microwave just to warm – stir partway through the heating process to heat evenly.
Red Onion Mint Orzo: Just cook up 1 pound of orzo according to package direction, then toss with a few glugs of olive oil, some minced red onion, the juice and grated zest of 1 lemon, and a handful of chopped mint. Season with salt and pepper. This can be made up to a day ahead of time, and served at room temperature. If you want to serve it warm, you can make the orzo ahead, then warm it in the microwave and add the other ingredients.
Roasted Asparagus with Halloumi: Trim and prepare the asparagus, slice the cheese, and make the dressing the day before. If you want to roast the asparagus earlier in the day, and serve it room temperature that’s fine, but the cheese is best heated just before serving.
A Fresh Tabletop Display
And here’s what’s happening on this gorgeous table!
We have to start with the delicate terrariums, filled with foliage (some real! some fake! And reusable!). Two different sizes offer nice variation in height, and bring pretty light to the table. And you look closely, little quail eggs are tucked into the greenery – you could of course use a variety of dyed Easter eggs as part of the centerpiece, or all red eggs if you are leaning into the Greek Easter theme. This wooden mini-vase holder offers another opportunity to add some green to the table.
A pretty green runner covers most of the table, but two of these pale green linen placements (also reversible!) add a little more texture and some padding for the dishes. A serious pop of color comes from bright yellow napkins – do not be afraid of color – it really makes a table sparkle for your great Greek feast.
The Greek Salad is served in these little gray based bowls. Instead of plates, these rimmed soup plates are large enough to hold the whole meal. And this monster sized charger is a perfect serving dish for the lamb, and so elegant with its clean lines. Asparagus are lined with on this patterned platter that really lets the green spears and browned creamy cheese pop. The skordalia is served first with toasted pita triangles on pretty blue plates, and then makes a re-appearance on the table as a side dish – the sauce is also lovely drizzled over slices of the lamb.
So there you have it, a true Greek feast! And as I write this, I am heartened by the fact that spring really is in sight, and hope it brings fresh starts to all of us.
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