Easter Brunch SGCC-Style

Sunday, April 1, 2012

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Of the great triumvirate of Christian holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter),  Easter is my favorite.  While I love eating myself into oblivion at Thanksgiving, and  Christmas (the gifts are nice too), I actually enjoy the fact that Easter isn’t as food-centric.  I find it to be a much more relaxing and low-key holiday than the others, which in turn means less stress for me.  And, I’m all about less stress these days!    While, it would be unthinkable in my family to have Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner in a restaurant (gasp!),  the same does not apply to Easter.  Unless we’re invited to someone’s home, we almost always enjoy our Easter meal at one of our favorite restaurants.

On the other hand, if your family is anything like mine, they will be clamoring for food long before the time a 4:00 dinner reservation rolls around.   To stave off the hungry horde, I always prepare a few dishes ahead of time that can either be warmed up in the oven or simply served cold that morning.   Here are some great “stress-less” brunch ideas from the SGCC archives for a lovely, laid back, Easter Sunday brunch.

Sumptuous Strawberry Soup


Fresh, ripe strawberries are blended with yogurt, sour cream, lime juice and honey to make this rich and lush chilled soup. It’s like a cross between a mousse and a smoothie.  Frozen berries can also be used in a pinch.  Whip it up a day or two in advance, although it may not last that long.

Chicks in a Nest


Chicks in a Nest is a great dish to serve for a brunch buffet. Each serving is completely self-contained and can just be picked up and popped on a plate. The “nests” are made from shredded potatoes that are baked in a muffin tin, which are then served filled with scrambled or poached eggs.  You can shred your own potatoes or use a bag of the pre-shredded kind, like I did.  The potato nests can be made a day ahead and crisped up in the oven before serving. 

Anytime Ham, Cheese and Egg Strata


A strata is casserole made with bread, eggs and whatever cheese, meats or vegetables you feel like putting into it.  Think of it as a savory bread pudding.   This one is filled with onions, ham, mozzarella and Swiss cheese.   The best thing about a strata is that it’s meant to be made in advance.  In fact, it really must be put together and allowed to sit for several hours or overnight before baking.  For your trouble, you’re rewarded with a puffy and golden mass of cheesy, meaty, eggy goodness.  

Vegetable Noodle Kugel


A kugel is actually a Jewish dish, commonly served on holidays and special occasions.  It’s a baked casserole, sweet or savory, that is usually made with egg noodles or potatoes, and often with cottage or cream cheese.  In this savory version, I’ve blended cottage cheese, sour cream and a velvety chevre with noodles and assorted vegetables for a sumptuous dish with a subtle tang.  A dusting of panko crumbs on top gives it a little crunch and extra texture.  This kugel is best baked up a day ahead and served at room temperature.

Tutti Frutti Chicken Salad


This light and luscious chicken salad is chock full of fresh and dried fruits and nuts bathed in a creamy  dressing punctuated with fresh herbs.  You can use any combination and quantity of fruits, nuts and herbs that you like, and it always turns out great.   Served in big, juicy, hollowed out tomatoes, pineapple boats or avocado halves, this Tutti Frutti Chicken Salad really sings Springtime!

Green Bean and Potato Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette


This lovely little salad features crisp tender green beans, potatoes, sweet grape tomatoes and thin slivers of red onion.  I pair it with a zesty vinaigrette, accented with Dijon mustard, lemon, garlic, honey and fresh herbs.  Serve it either warm or chilled and topped with some chopped hard boiled egg for extra richness.  It makes a lovely complement to any meal.

Presto Pesto Pasta Salad


This pasta salad is quick and ridiculously easy to put together. And, it’s full of zesty, bold flavors.  The dressing is simply a mixture of mayonnaise, lemon juice and store bought pesto sauce – the kind you find in the refrigerator section at the supermarket.  You can serve it as is, or punch it up by mixing in some poached chicken, tuna or tasty little salad shrimp.  Any way you serve this Presto Pesto Pasta Salad, your guests will be dishing out the complements!

Pizza Rustica


Of course, no Easter Sunday brunch at Chez SGCC would be complete without a few traditional Italian Easter pies, like this Pizza Rustica.  It’s a big, cheesy, meaty, creamy hunk of a pie stuffed to the gills with six different kinds of cured and fresh meat.  Yes, I said SIX!  One slice is pretty much a complete meal in itself.  A Pizza Rustica does take some time to put together, but trust me, it is worth the effort.  Plus, it can be made a few days in advance and is best served at room temperature. 

Torta di Riso


Torta di Riso is a rich and creamy egg and ricotta based dessert pie filled filled with cooked Arborio rice and delicately flavored with the essence of orange.  Think of it as rice pudding in a crust.  This pie is usually made using a traditional rolled pie crust.  But, I’ve made it a little easier to make and more interesting to eat by using layers of paper thin phyllo dough to envelope my filling.  The phyllo gives this torta a delightfully crispy, buttery crust that shatters beneath your teeth as you bite into it.  It’s simply amazing!

Italian Ricotta Cheesecake


And, we certainly can’t forget dessert, especially when it’s a luxuriously rich and creamy cheesecake like this one!  My version of this Italian classic is made with both ricotta and mascarpone cheeses, giving it a super silky smooth texture.  I flavor it with the heady combination or pure vanilla and a splash of orange flower water, that is sure to make both you and your guests swoon.

Buttery Lemon Bars


Lemon Bars are a quintessential Springtime treat.  This version boasts a rich and buttery shortbread crust topped with an ultra-lemony curd that is the perfect balance of sweet and tart.  These are honestly the best lemon bars I’ve ever eaten – bar none! Winking smile 


13 responses to Easter Brunch SGCC-Style

  1. On April 02, 2012 at 12:24am, Wendy said...

    This all looks great. I’m actually going to Florida for Easter and will be making a few dishes while i’m there, so thanks for for these. Susan, I wonder if you have a recipe for waldorf salad, which I have recently discovered, after years of turning my nose up at it!!

    • On April 02, 2012 at 10:29am, Susan said...

      Hmmm. I’ll have to think about that and get back to you.

  2. On April 02, 2012 at 12:32am, Wendy said...

    PS I kinda know what’s in it just know you’ll have a spin on it!

  3. On April 02, 2012 at 2:04am, Rosa said...

    A great brunch! Those are lovely recipes.



  4. On April 02, 2012 at 9:18am, Rachel (S[d]OC) said...

    No Easter brunch for me this year since my brother and his family are committed to a christening on Easter Sunday and my family is having dinner Saturday night instead (I’ll be saving the info for future blog posts…) I’ll be making the Easter pie of course – my great-grandmother’s traditional family recipe. I could eat the whole thing myself.

    I’m afraid my family has been doing more holidays out these days than in. I do really like the big Easter brunch buffets though. There is just something about all of that crazy food abundance.

  5. On April 02, 2012 at 9:49am, jen @ one curly fry said...

    Love those Chicks in a Nest! They are adorable!

  6. On April 02, 2012 at 10:17am, Liz said...

    Wow, this menu is inspiring! We’ve been abstaining from desserts until Easter – those lemon bars look like the perfect thing to eat on Sunday.

  7. On April 02, 2012 at 3:32pm, Eleanor said...

    For Easter I am going down to my aunt’s and she will cook… but with these ideas I may have to insist on cooking! Just found your blog and will subscribe ASAP x

  8. On April 03, 2012 at 3:33am, Anne Galivan said...

    Can I come to your house? 😉

    Usually our family has a Messianic Passover Seder on the Friday or Saturday night before Easter. It is a major undertaking for me as it includes: an appetizer, chicken and matzoh ball soup, prime rib, mashed potatoes, usually two vegetables/casseroles, and a dessert…along with the traditional dishes that are a part of the actual service. I love it as a way to honor our spiritual heritage and build family memories.

    However…this year I’m not doing the Seder because I’ve been ill for months – I found out last week that I’ve had mono! (And I’m 50 years old and already had it when I was 17 – yuck!)

    So I bought a Publix spiral-sliced ham and I’m going to make that, and told my daughter (age 28) and my middle son (age 18) that they are making the rest of the meal (and I told them it HAS to include mashed potatoes which I LOVE). In any case, my son has already decided he’s going to make the dessert…on his grill he got for Christmas! (Yes, he got a grill for Christmas – it was his #1 gift request)…anyway, he’s going to make a “blueberry crumble.”

    One last thing, we used to make a huge deal about Thanksgiving…it was the one meal we would get together with my sister’s family, my mom, etc. because we all live in different parts of the state. But this Thanksgiving I was too wiped out so I said, “we’re staying home!” I bought a Honey-Baked Ham and ordered the rest of our dinner from Cracker Barrel…oh yes I did! And you know what? It was delicious. And easy. And it’s probably going to be our new Thanksgiving tradition!

    (P.S. I will definitely be trying some of these recipes…just not this Easter!)

  9. On April 03, 2012 at 1:28pm, Emily said...

    Hate to pick nits, but Thanksgiving is not a Christian holiday, it’s American, and celebrated by people of all religions, unless I’m missing something.

    This food looks amazing!

  10. On April 04, 2012 at 9:54am, Danijela said...

    Wow, nice collection of recipes. I just love Italian Ricotta Cheesecake, it is one of my favorites.

  11. On April 07, 2012 at 8:20pm, Angela said...

    Hello, I was searching for a recipe for pizza rustica and came across your 2008 posting. I made a recipe today that was called Torta Pasqualina Della Nonna and I kept telling my 98 year mother that something didn’t seem right that it was more like a pizza rustica. Ergo, I looked up pizza rustica and found you and sure enough, I made a pizza rustica. Except, I like your crust recipe better than mine. We live near the beach so I thought this might be a good recipe to take for a beach picnic. What do you think?

  12. On April 13, 2012 at 11:00pm, nicole @ I am a Honey Bee said...

    Thanks for sharing these recipes. I got busy pinning them so I could make them next year!

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kiss the cook!

Hello and welcome to SGCC! I’m Susan, a professional writer, food columnist, recipe developer, wife, mother, daughter and sister, who used to be a lawyer in a previous life. My love of food comes from a long line of wonderful and creative Italian home cooks who didn’t always have a lot, but knew how to make a lot out of what they had. I hope that you enjoy yourself while you’re here, and visit often! read more >>

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