Home » Easter brunch: 3 recipes you can prep in advance

Easter brunch: 3 recipes you can prep in advance

H

ere we go: pandemic Easter 2.0. Perhaps this year you will be able to gather in a safe small group, or maybe you are still hunkering down with your immediate family as you plan to celebrate an important day on the Christian calendar.

Either way, there are meals to plan and prepare to make the holiday feel special. And you can create a sumptuous feast without having to splurge financially. Beautiful. Satisfying. Holiday-ish. Here is a fresh and colorful Easter brunch that checks all of those boxes and serves four people for about £40.

The star of the show is a verdant Cobb salad that makes the most of the produce that is popping up in the markets, asparagus and sugar snap peas in particular.

Think of this recipe as a template. Sub in chickpeas for the chicken for a vegetarian version, swap out the suggested vegetables for those you have on hand, and if you want to lean into a different salad dressing, go for it.

Take a moment to think about how well done you like your hard-cooked eggs on this egg-centric holiday – you can leave the yolks a little jammy (my favorite) or cook them all the way thorough. Either way, they are adorable nestled into the rows of good things topping this salad.

In saying that the Cobb Salad is the star of this meal, I may have spoken too fast. It’s hard to compete with a crispy, tender monkey bread. This one couldn’t be simpler, made from refrigerated biscuit dough, and pesto that you can make or buy. Cut the biscuits into pieces, toss with the pesto and melted butter and a handful of grated parmesan, pile it into a baking dish, and, oh my goodness, turn out that warm, pull-apart bread and put it in the center of the table. Why don’t we all make monkey bread on a weekly basis? I don’t know.

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Brunch doesn’t always include dessert, but it should. And on Easter, it must.

Frozen strawberries and sweetened whipped cream add up to one of the springiest and simplest desserts ever. You’ll know in short order how good this berry fool is when you hear the sound of spoons scraping against the cups, seeking the last swirls of this creamy, fluffy berry cloud.

Fresh berries on top (along with another dollop of whipped cream) gild that lily perfectly.

The £40 total assumes you have a few things in your kitchen already (such as salt, pepper, oil, vinegar and sugar). Drinks are additional, but iced tea or lemonade or maybe even a bottle of crisp white wine would be welcome.

Oh, and if you’re not celebrating Easter? Well, I think we all deserve a fine spring brunch nevertheless.

Spring Cobb salad with spring onion dressing

(Scott Suchman/Washington Post)

Active time: 40 minutes | Total time: 50 minutes

4 servings

This version of the popular salad allows you to celebrate seasonal flavours and relies on cooked beets and chicken. If you prefer to make your own, see the notes below and plan more cooking time.

Make ahead: The eggs can be cooked and refrigerated, unpeeled, up to 1 week. The vegetables can be blanched and refrigerated for up to 3 days. The vinaigrette can be prepared, minus the spring onions, up to 3 days in advance; whisk in the spring onions just before serving.

Ingredients

For the salad:

Kosher salt

1½ cups (about 6oz) de-stringed and halved sugar snap peas

12 stalks (about 6oz) asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1in pieces (about 1½ cups)

4 large eggs

6 cups (6oz) spring lettuce mix

1½ cups (about 8oz) ¾in cubed cooked chicken breast (see Notes)

1½ cups (about 9oz) cubed cooked golden or red beets (see Notes)

1 cup (4oz) crumbled goat cheese

1 small sweet onion (about 3oz), halved and thinly sliced

1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and sliced

For the vinaigrette:

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

3tbsp white wine vinegar

¼ cup minced spring onions

1tbsp Dijon mustard

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Method

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, fill a medium bowl with ice water and set aside. Salt the boiling water generously, and add the peas and asparagus. Cook until tender-crisp, about 2 minutes, then, using a spider or slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to the prepared ice bath (maintain the water at a boil). Let cool for 2 minutes, then transfer to a colander, drain and pat the vegetables dry. Add more ice to the ice bath.

Gently lower the eggs into the boiling water. Adjust the heat so that the water maintains a simmer. After 8 minutes, use a slotted spoon to transfer the eggs to the prepared ice bath. Let sit for about 5 minutes, then remove the eggs, crack and peel them, and halve them lengthwise.

Make the vinaigrette: in a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, spring onions and mustard until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper and whisk to incorporate.

In a large, shallow serving bowl, scatter the lettuce leaves. Arrange neat rows of the chicken, beets, peas, asparagus, goat cheese, onion and avocado over the lettuce. Tuck the halved eggs into the salad here and there. Serve with the vinaigrette on the side or drizzled over the salad.

Notes

To poach boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut the chicken in half or thirds crosswise, depending on how large the pieces are. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine 3 to 4 cups of water, the chicken and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt. Stir once or twice and slowly bring to barely a simmer – do not let the water come to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and gently cook until an instant-read thermometer reads 165 degrees when inserted into the thickest pieces of chicken, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the chicken and let cool completely before dicing.

To roast beets, position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Scrub the beets, and trim off any leaves and roots. Wrap each beet in a large piece of aluminum foil. Place the wrapped beets on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until a knife slides easily into the beet right into the middle. Let the beets sit until they are cool enough to handle, then discard the foil and peel off the skins. Dice for the salad.

Nutrition per serving (with half dressing): 491 calories, 35 g protein, 22 g carbohydrates, 29 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 272 mg cholesterol, 383 mg sodium, 5 g dietary fibre, 13 g sugar.

Pesto monkey bread

(Scott Suchman/Washington Post)

Active time: 20 minutes | Total time: 1 hour

Refrigerated biscuit dough makes this savoury monkey bread a breeze to put together. The mounds of dough are tossed with a buttery, herby parmesan and then baked until brown. Any shape pan can be used, but it should be big enough to hold 1 to 1½ quarts, so an 8in square baking pan works well.

Storage notes: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Ingredients

2tbsp unsalted butter, melted

2tbsp pesto (store-bought or homemade)

4tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese, divided

½tsp kosher salt

One (12oz) can refrigerated biscuit dough

Method

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees.

In a 1 to 1½ quart baking dish such as an 8in square pan, combine the melted butter, pesto, 2 tablespoons of the parmesan and the salt.

Separate the dough into biscuits, and quarter each biscuit. Place the pieces in the baking pan with the butter mixture and, using your hands, toss to combine and coat the pieces well.

Arrange the dough pieces evenly in the pan. They will be piled on top of each other and touching, but make sure they are evenly distributed. Then, sprinkle the remaining parmesan over the dough pieces and cover with aluminum foil.

Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil. Bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the inside is cooked through, with no doughy pockets (use a butter knife to check out the middle of one biscuit).

Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Invert the monkey bread onto the rack, then flip the bread carefully over again and transfer to a serving plate.

Serve warm, and let everyone pull the bread apart into hunks.

Nutrition based on 8 servings: calories: 200; total fat: 11 g; saturated fat: 4 g; cholesterol: 10 mg; sodium: 607 mg; carbohydrates: 20 g; dietary fibre: 1 g; sugar: 4 g; protein: 4 g.

Strawberry fool with raspberries

(Scott Suchman/Washington Post)

Active time: 20 minutes | Total time: 50 minutes (with defrosting time)

6 servings

This lush dessert belies the simplicity of its ingredients. It makes use of frozen berries, which often are less expensive than fresh berries, are convenient, available year-round and add structure. Top the fools with raspberries or any other favorite berry.

Make ahead: The strawberries need to defrost on the counter for 30 minutes before making the dessert. The fool can be refrigerated for up to 4 hours before serving.

Ingredients

10oz (284g) frozen strawberries

½ cup (100g) granulated sugar, divided

1½tsp fresh lemon juice

1 cup (240ml) heavy cream

Fresh raspberries, for serving (optional)

Method

Let the strawberries defrost on the counter for about 30 minutes. In a pitcher of a blender, combine the strawberries with ¼ cup (50g) of sugar and the lemon juice and puree until everything is fairly smooth and well blended.

In a medium bowl, using a handheld mixer or a whisk, beat the cream with the remaining ¼ cup (50g) of sugar just until it holds stiff peaks. Gently fold in the strawberry mixture, stopping when there are still faint streaks of pink and white.

Scoop the mixture into four (6oz) cups or glasses, filling each most of the way. Serve, or refrigerate for up to 4 hours. Top each serving with raspberries, if desired.

Nutrition based on 6 servings: calories: 218 ; total fat: 15 g; saturated fat: 9 g; cholesterol: 54 mg; sodium: 16 mg; carbohydrates: 22 g; dietary fibre: 1 g; sugar: 19 g; protein: 1 g.

Recipes from food writer Katie Workman, founder of the Mom 100 website.

©Washington Post