Whatever the details of the various venerable traditions of renewal, most of us have one, right? Friends and family around our table yesterday reflected on their family traditions and childhood experiences of Easter, in the deep American south, in New England, in mid-century SoCal and in faraway Wales, from religious to non-religious households. And at the center, always food, glorious food!
And in my health-conscious quest for plant-based deliciousness, another holiday meal provides me with another pleasurable chance to create a festive food experience tailored to the eaters around our table. It’s 100% fun for me, especially with my plant-based food explorations still less than a year old. With a couple of vegans in attendance along with several meat-lovers, and given my “primary food values” of simplicity, balance, and layers of flavor, I settled on the following menu, a mix of beloved faves and experiments. Why not, right?
Mama’s Salsa with Chips
Grilled Tri-tip and Roasted Quinoa-Stuffed Portobellos
Spring Linguini with Basil
Julie’s Creamy Deviled Eggs
Tomato Salad with Garlic Toast
Baby Greens with Green Goddess Dressing
Brownies with Lemon and Blood Orange Sorbet and Strawberries
My sons love my salsa, so that’s an easy “gnosh” for them when they breeze in from their busy lives to hang out with us during final food prep. The stuffed portobellos were the grand experiment of the day that I daydreamed about for a week, intent on incorporating color, texture, flavor, and succulence. I settled on red quinoa and spinach simmered in a base of onion, garlic, celery and carrot, with chopped avocado and cilantro folded in at the end. (I completely forgot the chopped walnuts that I was envisioning in the mix.)
I wanted fresh peas for my fresh linguini but settled for thin asparagus spears and baby broccoli that I chopped and threw into the salted pot with the linguini before folding in extra virgin olive oil when I piled it all into a big bowl. And I tossed big shavings of parmigiano-reggiano–to be easily spotted and bypassed by choice–and chopped basil onto the heaping bowl as I brought it to the table, an example of my plant-based approach that doesn’t completely exclude animal products but rather uses them very sparingly, like exotic condiments.
My tomato salad with toast is a chunky take on bruschetta. It’s a fail-proof fave, while the green goddess dressing was another enjoyable “animal-free” experiment. After browsing and tinkering, I settled on a base of tahini to which I added fresh garlic, cilantro, parsley, scallions and chives along with fresh squeezed lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, a couple of splashes of ponzu sauce, and salt to taste. Succulent, creamy, bright, and satisfying. Makes me happy!
And, interestingly, in my heart the highlight of the day had nothing to do with food, as my musical younger two of three wild, wonderful sons had a rare jam session with me afterward, before they chilled in front of the TV with their lovely ladies for the brownies-and-hockey-game phase of the afternoon. Very comforting for this mom in perpetual are they really gone from the nest? mode. Kevin and I relaxed with dear Julie and John as Julie schooled us on planning our wedding before a good catch-up call from my eldest in the midst of a New England Easter experience with his lovely lady. (Ahhhhh, life. Ah, Spring!)
And so welcome, Spring! Welcome, new beginnings and continuing 21st Century explorations of food, family, friendship, and authentic seasonal celebrations around our table. Beautiful!