Easter Dinner Ideas from Catholic Chefs

Catholic Digest brings you recipes from our two favorite Catholic chefs to help you bring dinner to the table this Easter.

Jeff Young is the founder of The Catholic Foodie blog and podcast where food meets faith. He hosts the Around the Table Food Show and is the author of a cookbook on Middle Eastern cuisine.

Father Leo Patalinghug is the founder of Grace Before Meals, an apostolate that is dedicated to helping bring families back to the dinner table. He also hosts Savoring Our Faith on EWTN.

 

Food plays an important role in Scripture. Whether it’s the covenant meals of the Old Testamentthe greatest of which being the Passover mealor the miraculous feeding of the 5,000, or the Last Supper, or Jesus preparing fish for breakfast on the shore of the Sea of Galilee after the resurrection, food brings us together. It is a sign of communion, and it is a delightful means of celebrating with joy.

— Jeff Young, The Catholic Foodie

 

Hummus

Served with warm pita bread, this chickpea dip is a hit at any party, and it’s found on just about every table in the Middle East.

 

2 cans chickpeas, rinsed

½ cup tahini

Juice of 1 whole lemon

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (to start)

¼ cup water (to start)

3 or 4 cloves garlic, peeled

1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

 

Put chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, water, and olive oil in a food processor. Process until it becomes the consistency of hummus. Slowly add more olive oil to make it creamier or add water to help thin it out. Place hummus into a round flat dish. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and garnish with chopped parsley. Serve with hot pita bread.

 

Palestinian parsley salad with tahini dressing

This parsley salad is great served as an accompaniment to grilled or fried fish and meat dishes.

 

2 bunches of parsley, chopped (remove stems)

¾ cup tahini

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

2 cloves garlic, crushed

Salt to taste

Water as needed

Diced tomatoes

 

Whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and salt in a mixing bowl until smooth. Add a tablespoon or two of cold water as needed to make a thick dressing. Adjust seasoning to taste. Wash, rinse, and dry the parsley well. Remove the stems, and finely chop. Add it to the tahini mixture and mix well.

 

Carrots with cumin

Carrots are naturally sweet, and roasting them intensifies their flavor.

 

1 to 1½ pounds of baby carrots, trimmed (or full carrots cut into sticks)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground coriander

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste (optional)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Sprigs of fresh cilantro for garnish

 

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine the olive oil and the seasonings. Mix together well. Add the carrots and toss with the olive oil mixture. Place the carrots in a single layer on a large baking dish and roast until soft and turning brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Serve hot, garnished with sprigs of fresh cilantro.

 

Rice pilaf

Sautéing the vermicelli in butter adds a nutty flavor to the rice, and using chicken stock to cook the rice gives this dish a depth of flavor and richness you can’t get with water.

 

1 cup of vermicelli, broken into ½-inch pieces

3 tablespoons butter or olive oil

2 cups long-grain jasmine rice

4 cups chicken stock, boiling

1½ teaspoons salt, or to taste (the amount of salt you add will depend on whether you use salted or unsalted stock)

1 pinch of ground cinnamon for garnish

Chopped parsley for garnish

 

Sauté vermicelli, stirring constantly over medium-high heat until brown. Be careful not to burn. Add rice and salt and stir well. Slowly add the boiling broth, stirring to incorporate. Bring back to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Allow to simmer until rice is cooked, about 20 minutes. Uncover and gently fluff the rice with a fork. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with chopped parsley and a pinch (or more!) of ground cinnamon.

 

Trout with pistachios and dill

Pistachios and dill go well together, and pan-frying the fish makes for a beautiful presentation.

 

½ cup milk

½ cup flour

1 teaspoon Cajun or Creole spices

½ teaspoon allspice

Salt, to taste

Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

4 tablespoons butter, plus 4 additional tablespoons

½ cup roughly chopped pistachios

5 or 6 skinless trout fillets (can also use grouper or tilapia)

Juice of a lemon

2 tablespoons fresh dill

 

Rinse the fillets and pat dry. Set aside. Combine flour, Cajun or Creole seasoning, and allspice in a wide plate. Pour milk into a wide, high-rimmed plate. Season the fish fillets with salt and pepper to taste. Use your hands to gently pat the seasonings into the fish, then dip the fillets into the milk and dredge them in the seasoned flour to coat. Melt four tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add the fillets in batches, being careful not to overcrowd the skillet. Working in batches, cook until golden brown, about three minutes per side. Transfer to a serving platter. Add the remaining four tablespoons of butter to the skillet over medium-high heat. Holding the skillet over the burner, gently swirl the skillet around so the butter melts evenly. Continue to cook the butter until it starts to turn brown, about five minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, place the skillet back on the burner, and add the pistachios. Cook, stirring gently, until the pistachios are toasted, about two to three minutes. Add the lemon juice and dill, then spoon the browned butter and pistachios over the fish and serve.

 

How do we keep the Easter season alive in our hearts? One thing we can do is to be more attentive to the Scriptures. If you stay attentive, you’ll hear how Jesus, even after his resurrection, is a big foodie! Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus who encountered Christ on the way, may he be revealed to you and your family at the table, bringing new meaning to your family meals.

—Father Leo Patalinghug, Grace Before Meals

 

Pan-roasted lamb chops

This is one I really enjoy making. While you can’t use this recipe for a large dinner party, it’s definitely worth the time and money for your immediate family on this Easter Sunday’s Feast of Feasts!

6-rib rack of baby lamb chops, frenched

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine breadcrumbs, rosemary, and garlic on a large plate and set aside. Season lamb chops with salt and pepper, and then coat with a tablespoon of olive oil, making sure all parts have some oil. Dredge chops and coat with the breadcrumb mix. Heat remaining olive oil in a nonstick skillet. Sear chops on all sides for one minute each. Put on an oven-safe rack and place in oven (10 to15 minutes for rare to medium, 20 minutes for medium well). Remove from oven and let meat rest for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting it into individual chops. One rack serves two people. These chops will definitely resurrect our Lenten-numbed taste buds!

 

Easter trifle

Berries:
1 pint blueberries
2 pint strawberries, hulled and cut into thick slices
1 pint raspberries
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

Lemon cream:
1 quart whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 11-ounce jar lemon curd
1 store-bought pound cake, sliced into 1/2″-thick pieces

 

Top (optional):

Peeps, Jelly Beans, Speckled Eggs, etc.

Place the berries into a large bowl and sprinkle with half of the lemon juice. Lightly toss. Combine the berries, sugar, cornstarch, and remaining lemon juice in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until the berries begin to break down and give up their juices, about three minutes. Take the berries off the heat and let cool. The mixture should thicken as it cools. In a bowl, whip the cream, sugar, and vanilla into soft peaks. Put the lemon curd into a second bowl and stir in a little of the whipped cream mixture to loosen it. Then gently fold in the rest. To assemble the trifle, spoon a layer of the lemon cream into a large glass bowl. Add a layer of pound cake. Then soak the cake with a layer of berries and their juices. Keep going, making three or four more layers, finishing with a layer of lemon cream. Have fun decorating the top with Peeps, Jelly Beans, and all your favorites! Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Adapted from Food Network

 

Try these cookbooks from our chefs:

  • Grace Before Meals Cookbook by Fr. Leo Patalinghug
  • Spicing Up Married Life by Fr. Leo Patalinghug
  • Epic Food Fight: A Bite-Sized History of Salvation by Fr. Leo Patalinghug
  • Around the Table with the Catholic Foodie: Middle Eastern Cuisine by Jeff Young
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