Add a twist to your Easter meal this year

Allow the side dishes to shine even if you choose to make a traditional ham or lamb roast for dinner

When it comes to Easter dinners, there are a couple of traditional entrees — ham and lamb are two of the most common.

But while the entree is the star of the show, there’s more to a festive table than the main dish. Side dishes deserve to shine too — after all, they’re there to compliment the entree.

So this year, don’t just serve plain old mashed potatoes. Try a brown-butter hasselback potato or a flavored scalloped potato instead.

While asparagus is delicious on its own, make some bacon-wrapped asparagus packets or try an asparagus quiche. Or make bacon-roasted carrots instead of steamed ones.

Salad is fine, but make this year’s salad stand out by incorporating ingredients you don’t normally use such as shaved asparagus.

And instead of raiding the Easter baskets for some candy for dessert, try a carrot cake — perhaps one that adds chopped pistachios to the batter to give it a different flavor, with some additional nuts sprinkled atop the traditional cream cheese frosting.

You could also try a new dessert, perhaps a take on skillet s’mores that combines milk and dark chocolate chips, some creamy peanut butter and that quintessential Easter treat, Peeps, instead of marshmallows. After broiling the three in an oven-safe skillet, serve it as a “dip” with graham crackers.

Or make a cake “nest” with egg-shaped candies on top, tucked in a nest of green-dyed coconut shavings.

Have fun with your meal. After all, the holiday is a time to celebrate but also to enjoy time with family and loved ones.

Following are some recipes for festive holiday sides from


Bacon Wrapped Caramelized Sesame  Asparagus


20 to 25 spears of asparagus, stems removed

4 slices thick-cut bacon

1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1-1/2 tablespoon brown sugar

1 garlic clove, minced or pressed

1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds


In a small bowl, whisk together oils, brown sugar and garlic. Set aside.

Bunch together five or six asparagus spears and tightly wrap a piece of bacon around the bundle. Place, seam-side down, on a wire rack that’s been coated with cooking spray and set on a baking sheet lined with foil. Repeat with remaining asparagus.

Using a pastry brush, a spoon or your hands, brush spears thoroughly with the oil and sugar mixture. Give each bundle a hefty sprinkle of sesame seeds. Roast in a 400-degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until bacon is crispy. Serve warm.

Makes four servings.



Roasted Carrot Green Goddess Salad


1 pound carrots, peeled

1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

6 cups butter lettuce greens

For dressing:

1/2 avocado

1/3 cup plain greek yogurt

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 garlic cloves

1/3 cup baby arugula or spinach greens

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon snipped chives

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Pinch salt

Pinch pepper

Pinch crushed red pepper flakes


Place carrots on a baking sheet. If they are really big or thick carrots, slice them in half. Drizzle with olive oil and toss well. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder, then roast in a 400-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender.

Place greens in a large bowl or plate. Toss well with salt and pepper.

Place dressing ingredients in a food processor or blender. Blend until well combined.

Drizzle greens with dressing, lightly tossing. Top with roasted carrots.

Makes two to four servings.



Asparagus Quiche With Hash Brown Crust


For crust:

3 to 4 russet potatoes, peeled and grated

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

For filling:

6  large eggs

2  cloves garlic, minced

1-1/2 cups heavy cream

3/4 cup fontina cheese, freshly grated

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese, plus extra for topping

1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1 pinch salt

1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, oregano and basil

1/2 cup chopped asparagus spears

12 asparagus spears, woody ends removed

Chopped fresh herbs for topping


Grate potatoes into a large bowl and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Gather all the potato shreds in a kitchen towel and squeeze out as much of the liquid that you can.

Heat a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add oil and butter. Once butter has melted, press the potatoes into the skillet to form an even crust, pressing often, until the bottom and edges of the crust brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Turn off the heat.

Whisk together eggs, garlic, cream, cheese, salt and peppers. Fold in the fresh herbs and chopped asparagus. Pour filling into the crust. Place the long asparagus spears gently on top in a circle design with the top of the spears facing outward.

Bake in a 350-degree oven for 35 to 45 minutes, until golden on top and set in the center. Let cool before serving. Sprinkle with additional feta and herbs.

This is good served warm or cold.

Makes eight servings.



Chocolate Peanut Butter Peeps Skillet S’Mores


3 cups chocolate chips

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

2 packages Peeps

Graham crackers for serving


Place chocolate chips in a nine-inch oven-safe skillet in an even layer. Drop spoonfuls of peanut butter on top, then cover with a layer of about 25 Peeps.

Broil on high for one to two minutes, just until the marshmallows are golden and the chocolate chips are melting. If the chocolate isn’t melting easily, turn the oven to 350 degrees for a few minutes until it melts. Serve immediately with graham crackers for dipping.

Makes six servings.




Hummingbird Mimosas


2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Orange wedges

2 ounces chilled pineapple juice

1 ounce chilled orange juice

3 to 4 ounces chilled prosecco


Stir sugar and cinnamon together on a plate. Use an orange wedge to rim the edge of the glass, then dip the glass in the cinnamon sugar. Fill glass with the pineapple and orange juices. Top off with champagne and serve.

Makes one serving.



Tartines With Green Goddess Goat Cheese


1 baguette, sliced into 1/2-inch slices

Olive oil, for drizzling

Kosher salt


Garlic powder, for sprinkling

11 ounces goat cheese, softened

1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon zest

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill, plus extra for garnish

1 tablespoon snipped chives, plus extra for garnish

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

4 ounces smoked salmon

Pickled onions, for topping


Place baguette slices on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and garlic powder. Bake in a 400-degree oven for eight to 10 minutes, until golden and crunchy.

Place goat cheese, lemon zest, garlic, parsley, basil, dill, chives, lemon juice and a big pinch of salt and pepper into a food processor. Blend until combined and smooth, scraping the sides and the bottom as you go.

Spread toasted baguette slices with goat cheese mixture. Top with a piece of smoked salmon, extra fresh herbs, a sprinkle of cracked black pepper and pickled onions. Serve.

Makes four servings.



Brown Butter Hasselback Potatoes With Caramelized Onions


8 to 10 Yukon gold potatoes

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher salt


4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 garlic clove, minced

1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley and chives

For onions:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 sweet onions, thinly sliced

Kosher salt


Place potatoes on a cutting board and lay a butter knife on each side. Slice potatoes thinly, making sure not to cut through the bottom. Place potatoes on a baking sheet and brush all over, including in the slices and crevices, with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, making sure to get into the slices.

Roast potatoes in a 450-degree oven for 45 to 50 minutes, until deeply golden brown and crispy.

Heat four tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions and a big pinch of salt. Cook 10 minutes, stirring often, until the onions are translucent. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook onions about an hour, stirring often, until caramelized and golden. If the onions get too dry, add a splash of water.

Heat butter in a skillet over medium-low heat until melted. Cook, letting the mixture bubble and stirring occasionally, until brown bits begin to appear on the bottom. Turn the heat off and continue to stir about 30 seconds. Stir in minced garlic.

Brush brown garlic butter all over the potatoes and into the crevices. Sprinkle with fresh herbs. Top with caramelized onions and serve.

Makes six to eight servings.



Bacon Roasted Carrots


3 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped

2 pounds of carrots, peeled

Pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


Heat a skillet over medium heat and add chopped bacon. Cook, stirring, often, just until the fat is rendered and the bacon starts to crisp up. Turn off the heat.

Peel carrots and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle carrots with bacon grease, then toss to coat evenly. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt, pepper and garlic. Top with the bacon.

Roast in a 400-degree oven for 20 minutes, until the bacon is crisp and carrots are fork tender.

Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve immediately.

Makes two to four servings.



Grilled Asparagus Caesar


2 pounds asparagus spears

3 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher salt


Garlic powder for sprinkling

4 slices sourdough bread

1/3 cup shaved Parmesan cheese

3 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese

For dressing:

4 garlic cloves, minced

3 tablespoons Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon anchovy paste

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 lemon, juiced

1/3 cup olive oil


To make dressing, place garlic, yogurt, Parmesan, mustard, vinegar, anchovy paste, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a food processor and blend until pureed. With the processor still on, stream in olive oil until a creamy dressing forms. You can make dressing a day or two ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator.

Preheat grill to medium-high for at least 10 minutes.

Remove woody stems from asparagus spears. Toss with 1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Brush sourdough slices with remaining olive oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt and some garlic powder.

Place asparagus spears directly on the grill for five to six minutes, tossing occasionally, until spears are slightly charred, and toast sourdough on the grill for one to two minutes per side.

Slice or tear the sourdough into smaller crouton pieces.

Place the asparagus on a plate and drizzle with Caesar dressing. Top with shaved Parmesan, sourdough croutons and finely grated Parmesan. Serve immediately.

Makes four servings.




Asiago Scalloped Potatoes


1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

1 pound potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

1-1/4 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup freshly grated Asiago cheese

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-reggiano cheese

1 cup fine breadcrumbs

1/2 teaspoon ground sage

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon ground thyme


Peel and slice your potatoes to 1/8-inch thickness using a mandolin and place in a large bowl.

Heat cream, milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat and let sit five minutes.

In another bowl, stir together cheeses, breadcrumbs, ground sage, garlic powder and ground thyme.

Pour cream mixture over the potatoes and toss gently. Line half the potatoes in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish that’s been coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle half the breadcrumb mixture over the top, then layer on the rest of the potatoes. Sprinkle the rest of the crumb/cheese mixture on top, then pour any remaining cream over the potatoes, dispersing it evenly.

Bake in a 400-degree oven for one hour. Test to see if the potatoes are tender. If the crumbs on top get too brown, cover the pan with foil.

Let potatoes sit a few minutes before serving.




French Onion Deviled Eggs


2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 sweet onion, thinly sliced

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 ounces diced pancetta

12 large eggs

1/3 cup mayonnaise

3 tablespoons plain, full-fat Greek yogurt

1 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon pepper

3 tablespoons freshly snipped chives

Fresh oregano for garnish


Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add sliced onion and salt, toss to coat and cook 45 to 60 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion caramelizes. If the onion starts to burn, turn down the heat. Once the onion is caramelized, turn off the heat.

Place eggs in a large pot and fill with cold water. Bring to a boil for one minute, turn off the heat and cover the pot. Let the pot sit for 15 minutes.

Place the pot in the sink and fill with cold water. The eggs should sit in cold water for 30 minutes, so replace the water with cold water a few times.

Peel eggs, slice them in half and gently remove the yolks.

Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat, add the pancetta and cook until crispy and all the fat is rendered. Remove pancetta with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel.

Place egg yolks, mayonnaise, yogurt, mustard, caramelized onion, pepper and garlic powder in a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Taste and add additional salt if needed. Spoon  or pipe mixture into the egg whites, sprinkle with pancetta, fresh chives and oregano and serve.



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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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