En español | Some people commemorate Easter with a late-morning brunch. I prefer to celebrate the holiday with a traditional roast dinner, and it doesn’t get much better — or easier — than this Festive Rack of Lamb Platter, which cooks in about a half-hour.
Start the fun with a glass of bubbly spiked with St-Germain. A few teaspoons per flute of this elderflower liqueur gives the champagne a lovely bouquet.
The flatbreads take only about 20 minutes to make from scratch, but if you’re short on time, pick up a package and you’ll just need to top them.
Because they’re small, racks of lamb roast in about 20 minutes, approximately the same amount of time it takes to roast vegetables. Before roasting the lamb, sear it quickly on the stovetop. It helps the racks brown and creates a few brown bits from which you can make a quick, flavorful balsamic pan sauce. Roasting the vegetables on the bottom oven rack helps them brown better. Roasting the lamb on the top rack allows it to cook in intense enveloping heat.
End the meal with classic comfort: rice pudding. The pudding, with a pinch of saffron and a garnish of cinnamon sticks, tastes luxuriously rich and creamy, but because the creamers are plant-based, it’s relatively light and has no cholesterol.
Smoked Salmon Flatbread Pizzas
Makes 6 appetizer flatbread pizzas
Thinly sliced whole lemons make a beautiful garnish, and they taste great, too. If the pith is superthick on your lemons, use a vegetable peeler to remove some of it before thinly slicing the lemon. Or, if you prefer, simply drizzle the flatbreads with lemon juice before serving.
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup warm water
3/4 cup whipped cream cheese
2 small lemons: 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated zest removed, lemon sliced very thinly
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, divided
1/4 cup drained capers
1/2 small red onion, sliced paper thin
12 ounces thin-sliced smoked salmon
Adjust oven racks to lowest and highest positions, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Mix flour and salt in a food processor. Pour 1/3 cup warm water over flour mixture; process to form a soft dough ball, adding a teaspoon or so more water if dough does not come together, about 15 seconds. With floured hands, turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and cut into six pieces. Working one at a time, roll dough to an approximate 7-inch round, coating with flour and turning as necessary to keep it from sticking. Transfer to 1 of 2 large parchment- or silpat-lined rimless cookie sheets. Prick dough rounds with a fork and bake, switching cookie sheets to opposite racks after 7 minutes, until spotty brown and crisp, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix cream cheese, lemon zest and half the dill. Spread flatbreads with cream cheese mixture and top in the following order: capers, onions, smoked salmon, lemon slices and remaining dill. Serve.
Simple Festive Rack of Lamb Platter
To complete the meal, serve with a big bowl of butter green peas.
2 trimmed racks of lamb
6 tablespoons olive oil
Salt, ground black pepper, granulated sugar
1/2 cup each: chicken broth and balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 pounds new potatoes
1 1/2 pounds carrots
2 bunches (about 2 pounds) medium-to-thick asparagus, stems snapped
Adjust oven rack to lowest and upper-middle positions, and heat oven to 450 degrees. Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Coat racks of lamb all over with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and lightly sprinkle with salt, pepper and a few pinches of sugar, to promote quick browning. Working one at a time, place racks of lamb in hot skillet until impressively brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer racks to a large rimmed baking sheet. Add broth and vinegar to hot skillet and reduce by half; turn off heat and set aside.
Toss potatoes with another tablespoon of oil and a light sprinkling of salt and pepper; place, cut side down, on a second rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with carrots and shallots, placing them on the same baking sheet as the potatoes. Toss asparagus with remaining oil and a light sprinkling of salt and pepper.
Placing vegetables on bottom rack and lamb on upper rack, roast until lamb racks are cooked to your liking, about 20 minutes for rosy pink and 23 to 25 minutes for medium to medium-well. Transfer lamb to a cutting board; let rest for 10 minutes. Add asparagus to lamb roasting pan and set on upper-middle rack, giving vegetables on bottom rack a stir. Continue to cook until asparagus is bright green and just tender and vegetables are golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes longer.
Carve one of the racks of lamb, leave one whole, and arrange on a platter. Arrange vegetables and asparagus on a second platter. Serve immediately with warmed-up balsamic sauce, passed separately.
Coconut Rice Pudding With Cinnamon and Saffron
1/2 cup short grain rice such as Arborio or sushi rice
6 cups coconut drink or almond milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 big pinch saffron threads
3 (3-inch lengths) cinnamon sticks
1 cup canned coconut milk
2 tablespoons chopped pistachio nuts
Bring rice, coconut drink (or almond milk), sugar, salt, saffron and cinnamon sticks to simmer in a large saucepan or small Dutch oven; reduce heat to medium-low and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until milk is thick enough to suspend the rice, about 30 minutes. Stir in coconut milk and continue to simmer, stirring frequently, until soft pudding texture, about 10 minutes longer; let cool slightly. Remove cinnamon sticks, wash and cut them in half, and reserve; spoon rice pudding into goblets or bowls (can be covered and refrigerated for a few days). When ready to serve, garnish each with pistachios and a cinnamon stick.
AARP food expert Pam Anderson is a best-selling cookbook author and blogger at threemanycooks.com.