easterSpring is a time of rebirth and new growth, a time to celebrate budding trees and blooming flowers. Easter dishes traditionally reflect the mood of the season with eggs, lamb, and seasonal fruits and vegetables. Whether you choose traditional or innovative Easter fare, or serve your celebratory meal for brunch or dinner, plan a menu with bright colors and wide array of textures and tastes.

Easter Libations

Instead of preparing individual drinks for everyone, opt for a fresh fruit punch or even a big bowl of eggnog. Although eggnog is conventionally served during the Christmas season, it fits in perfectly with the egg themes so prevalent in Easter celebrations. Have a few decanters of rum, vodka, and brandy on the table so adults have the option of spiking the non-alcoholic punches and nogs or serve vibrantly colored cocktails in pitchers.

Sumptuous Starters

While your guests mingle and imbibe before the meal is served, offer them a selection of appetizers and hors d’oeuvres to whet their appetites. Deviled eggs add color to the table, and their bright yellow hues are accented by displaying vibrant purple pickled eggs in the center of the serving platter. Grilled or steamed asparagus wrapped in prosciutto or chunks of melon, strawberries, and pineapple threaded on small skewers are easy to eat out-of-hand while anticipating the meal to come.

Main Dishes

During the Easter season, every imaginable cut of ham and lamb fill supermarket cases but you can buck tradition with a standing crown pork rib roast, beef tenderloin roast or roast turkey. If you opt for ham, step it up with a unique glaze. Instead of leg of lamb, braise some shanks, grill racks of lamb, or prepare tender lamb chops. For large gatherings, serve one or more meat or poultry entrees on an Easter buffet table.

Sides and Salads

Easter breads and muffins made with fresh and dried fruit and studded with nuts and seeds are traditional sides. Bake your own or pick up a freshly baked assortment at your favorite bakery. Serve crocks of honey butter, chutney, fruit compotes, jams, and chunky preserves with the bread, flavors that accent the seasonings and spices of meats and poultry.

Reflect the bounty of spring vegetables and fruits in Easter salads and side dishes. Peruse your local farmers’ market, choose the ripest most succulent fruit, and create a centerpiece salad in an oversized crystal bowl. Make it several hours ahead so the natural juices can mingle before serving. Lightly steam fresh baby sugar peas or snow peas and baby carrots – the full-flavored kind with the green ends still attached, not the bagged kind that are just regular carrots cut small – and serve them at room temperature, lightly seasone