France is known throughout the world for its culinary excellence and its Easter meals are no exception. Why not try something different with your own Easter dinner this year and add a French recipe or two?
Below are some delicious French dishes to choose from, organized from the simple first course to a satisfying, rich dessert. Joyeuses Pâques (Happy Easter).
Mâche Salad with Endives and Beets (Salade de mâche aux endives et betteraves)
- 3 small endives
- 2 medium beets, roasted
- 4 large handfuls of mâche salad, also known as lamb’s lettuce, corn salad, or field lettuce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar or pomegranate molasses
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan (substitute nutritional yeast)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons toasted seeds (sunflower, sesame, pumpkin, hemp, flax, or a mix of these)
- Carve out and discard the endive hearts, and thinly slice the rest.
- Peel and dice the beets.
- Trim the mâche roots if they seem a little rough.
- In a medium salad bowl, whisk together the vinegar and olive oil.
- Add the endives and beets and toss to coat. Then season with salt, and flavor with pepper.
- Fold in the mâche gently, so as not to bruise the leaves.
- Sprinkle with parmesan and seeds and give the salad a final toss.
- Serve immediately, or let it sit in the fridge for a few hours.
French Easter Leg of Lamb (Le gigot d’agneau Pascal)
- 5-6 pound leg of lamb, bone in
- 5-7 garlic cloves, cut into slivers
- 2 large fresh rosemary sprigs
- Olive oil
The Night Before:
The night before you roast the lamb, cut 1-inch slits in the leg. Stuff the slits with garlic slivers and rosemary sprigs. Place the lamb in a roasting pan with a roasting rack, and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
Roasting the Lamb:
- Remove the lamb from the refrigerator 2-3 hours before you roast it to bring it up to room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 450°F.
- Drizzle the lamb with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. If you have an in-oven probe thermometer, insert it into the center of the meatiest part of the leg.
- Roast the lamb for 15 minutes at 450°F.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F. You can help the temperature drop more quickly by opening the oven door slightly.
- Continue roasting the lamb at 300°F for 20-25 minutes per pound for medium rare, or 25-30 minutes per pound for medium. It’s not recommended to cook your leg more than medium.
- Remove the lamb from the oven when the internal temperature is 135°F for medium rare, or 150°F for medium.
- Rest the lamb on the counter for 10-15 minutes, loosely tenting it with aluminum foil. It will continue to cook while resting. The final temperature for medium rare should be 145°F, or 160°F for medium.
Potato Gratin (Gratin Dauphinois) – Potato Dish from the Dauphine Region in South-East France
- 3/4 cup whole milk or cream
- 3/4 cup light cream
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
- 1-1/2 pounds potatoes (Yukon gold, baking, or russet) peeled and sliced into 1/8-inch-thick rounds. Don’t rinse the potatoes after slicing them (you want to keep the starch)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- Preheat the oven to 325°F.
- Heat the milk, cream, minced garlic, and nutmeg in a saucepan until the mixture begins to steam. Remove it from the heat.
- While the milk is heating, grease a 9-inch pie pan with butter. Layer the sliced potatoes in the pan, sprinkling salt between each layer.
- Pour the mixture of heated milk over the potatoes. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 1 hour.
- After an hour increase the oven temperature to 400°F and bake for an additional 5-7 minutes until the top is golden.
- Remove the pan from the oven, and let it stand for 10 minutes before serving.
Green Beans with Almonds (Haricots verts amandine)
- 1 pound green beans, trimmed
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup sliced almonds
- 1/2 tablespoon butter, unsalted
- 1/2 lemon, juiced (roughly 2 tablespoons)
- Place the green beans in a medium pot, and cover with water. Add the salt and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, cooking the beans until bright, but still crisp (about 1-2 minutes).
- Drain the beans, and rinse under cold water to prevent them from further cooking. Place them in a bowl.
- Toast the almonds over medium-high heat in a medium-sized sauté pan, about 4-5 minutes. Stir occasionally until fragrant and golden. Remove 2 tablespoons of almonds from the pan and put aside.
- Add the butter and lemon juice to the almonds in the pan. Heat until the butter melts and add the drained green beans. Sauté the beans for 1-2 minutes, constantly stirring until well-coated with the lemon butter and heated through.
- Before serving, garnish the beans with the toasted almonds you set aside.
Cheese Platter (Un plateau de fromages)
The cheese platter is served before the dessert. Assemble 3, 5, or 7 different cheeses from the following types: soft, hard, goat, and blue (vary the shapes and colors). Serve with baguettes or sourdough bread, crackers, butter, jams, and fruit such as grapes, sliced apples, figs, dates, and dried apricots.
Molten Chocolate Cake (Gâteau au chocolat au coeur fondant)
- 6 ounces high quality, semi-sweet baking chocolate
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- Optional for topping: raspberries, strawberries, whipped cream, ice cream
- Preheat the oven to 425°F, with the rack in the middle position.
- Generously butter and flour four 6-ounce ramekins (you can use muffin tins instead — the cakes will be smaller and you’ll get 6 instead of 4)
- Coarsely chop the chocolate. Over low heat, melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the chocolate and stir until melted. Transfer to a medium bowl.
- Whisk together the flour, confectioners’ sugar, and salt in a small bowl. In another small bowl whisk the eggs and egg yolks together.
- Gently stir the egg mixture into the chocolate, then fold in the flour mixture. Slowly stir everything using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Use your whisk to get rid of any lumps. The batter will be slightly thick.
- Divide the batter among the ramekins (or muffin cups) and place them on a baking sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes until the sides appear solid and firm. The tops will still appear soft. In a muffin tin bake only 8-10 minutes.
- Allow to cool for 1 minute, then cover each with an inverted plate and turn over. The center of the cakes should be runny. For muffin tins, use a spoon to loosen the cakes, and place each upside down on plates.
- Add toppings. Serve immediately.
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