My gluten-free Easter menu will make the day as easy, fun and delicious as possible for you. With these grain-free, gluten-free and refined sugar-free recipes (and some are even Whole30-friendly), you can celebrate without any of the icky consequences of indulging in a grainy, sugary meal. Perfect for brunch or dinner, these low-carb Easter recipes have an Italian twist to keep everything colorful and irresistible.
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You start the meal with a Limoncello Spritz. Light, crisp and bubbly, it’s a refreshing counterpart to the creamy, savory richness of Caesar Deviled Eggs. You can round out your appetizers with bowls of nuts, olives, a meat and cheese board, or maybe a cheese board with an easy cranberry compote.
For the entrée, there’s easy and make-ahead-able (sure, that can be a word) Lamb Ragú. Choose what you’d like to serve this with: gluten-free pasta, soft, creamy polenta, or veggies of the mashed, riced or noodle’d variety.
Kale Salad with Granola, Avocado Green Goddess Dressing and a Secret rounds out the main course. It’s fresh flavors and mix of textures – creamy, crunchy, juicy – make for a perfectly perky side to the deep umami flavor of the ragú. And that secret will keep the prep work as easy as possible.
And this is a celebration, right? So what better way to celebrate than with a Cassata Cake layered with sweetened ricotta, chocolate and orange and then topped with candied citrus and crunchy almonds? This classic Italian Easter cake is easy to make but makes a big impression. If you don’t have rum, try Amaretto or an orange liqueur, or leave the alcohol out altogether and use fresh orange juice instead.
You’ll see flavors tying the courses together. The citrus of the cocktail returns again in the salad and the cake. Anchovy paste (I know, but trust me!) adds an incomparable depth of flavor to the eggs, ragú and salad dressing (it’s subtle enough that you won’t get sick of it). This creates a coherent meal that’ll give you one more reason to pat yourself on the back.
Below you’ll find your shopping list and game plan for getting things ready ahead of time. I doubled the recipes (except the cake) so this will feed 8 people, more or less depending on your family.
I know this can look like a long list of ingredients and a lot of work, so try to find shortcuts when they make sense for you. No time for a cocktail? Have your guests supply the wine, beer, alcohol or whatever beverages they like.
Skip making any apps and just go with the nuts, olives, meat and cheese board, etc. Or, again, delegate apps to someone else! The added bonus is that then you know they’ll show up on time.
You can buy a Green Goddess salad dressing, or forgo the whole kale salad. Instead, dress a big bowl of peppery arugula with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice or the vinegar of your choice and salt and pepper.
Grocery stores often have a lot of options in the produce or frozen sections for already-made veggie rice or noodles, or mashed veggies.
Not a baker? Skip the cake and take a trip to your favorite bakery the day before or the morning of. Or put someone else in charge of the dessert. Delegating can be a cook’s best friend.
2 bunches of curly-leaf kale
1 lb. beets packed in no/low vinegar
2 oranges (for the salad)
4 oranges (for the cake, or 2 oranges, 1 lemon and 1 grapefruit)
2 lemons (for the cocktail, eggs and salad)
2 bunches fresh parsley
2 bunches chives
1 bunch fresh basil
1 bunch fresh mint
6-8 large shallots
1 head of garlic
2 lbs. ground lamb
1 lb. whole-milk ricotta
red wine vinegar (optional, if using in the Avocado Green Goddess Dressing instead of lemon juice)
1 (10) oz. bag grain-free granola (doesn’t have to be exactly 10 oz., can be a little more or less)
red pepper flakes (if desired, for the ragú)
rum or Amaretto (for the cake, optional, if not using you’ll need 1 more orange)
2 (750) ml bottles Prosecco
1 (750) ml bottle limoncello
1 (6)-pack canned or bottled soda water
For the ragú (pick one):
2 lbs. gluten-free pasta
vegetables for mashing, ricing or noodling (or use store-bought if available); depending on the veggie, you’ll need approximately 4-6 pounds for 8 people; try parsnips, butternut squash, white sweet potatoes, regular potatoes or rutabaga.
Make-ahead game plan
See the recipes above for the details.
Up to 7 days in advance:
Also for the cake, toast the sliced almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat until golden and toasty-smelling (about 7 minutes). Store in the fridge.
Up to 5 days in advance
Boil the eggs (or use your Instant Pot per the instructions), chill and store unpeeled in an airtight container in the fridge.
Make the ragú but do not add the fresh mint. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Make the ricotta cream for the cake. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Up to 4 days in advance
Supreme the oranges for the salad. And you guessed it: store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Bake the beets for the salad if not using store-bought cooked beets. Store covered in the fridge.
Up to 3 days in advance
If serving the ragú with vegetables of some kind (riced, mashed, noodles), prepare them (do not add salt) and store in the fridge.
Up to 2 days in advance
Make the filling for the eggs, with or without the egg yolks. Store in the fridge.
Bake the cakes, cool and store in the fridge (do not brush with alcohol or orange juice).
The night before
If the meal is earlier in the day, fill the eggs the night before (do not garnish) and store in an airtight container in the fridge. (If the meal is more of a dinner, wait until the morning of to do this.)
Slice a lemon if using as a garnish in the cocktail. Keep covered in the fridge.
The day of
Assemble the salad but do not add the dressing yet.
Assemble the cake. Keep at room temperature (if the meal is earlier) or in the fridge (if the meal is later).
An hour before the meal
Heat up the ragú, adding a splash of water if you need to thin it out. Keep warm over low heat.
If serving the ragú with pasta, put a large, covered pot of water over high heat. Once it reaches a full boil, turn off the heat and leave it covered. When you’re ready to add salt and the pasta, it will reach full boil much faster.
If serving the ragú with polenta, prepare the polenta and keep it warm over very low heat. Add a splash of water or if it becomes too thick.
If serving the ragú with vegetables, heat up the vegetables, season them with salt and keep warm in a covered container.
Turn your oven on the lowest setting and put the serving bowl for the ragú and polenta (if using) in the oven (this will help keep them warm when they’re at the table).
Just before the meal (guests can help with this)
If the cake is in the fridge, take it out so it can come to room temperature as you eat.
Garnish the eggs and set them out on a platter.
Pour the bottles of limoncello and Prosecco into a large pitcher. If your pitcher isn’t large enough, add 1/2 the bottle of limoncello and 1 bottle of Prosecco. Refill the pitcher as necessary. Add ice, the limoncello mixture, soda water and lemon slices to glasses and serve.
10 minutes before the main meal, cook the pasta and drain, if using.
When ready to eat, either combine the ragú with the pasta and serve in the warmed serving bowl, or serve the ragú separately with the polenta or veggies in their own bowl.
Dress the salad and serve.
Put on a pot of coffee if necessary.
Serve the cake and enjoy yourself even more!
You did it! You put together a gluten-free Easter menu like a pro. Way to go. I knew you could. Now have everyone else do the dishes.
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