Cristina Ferrare's Grilled Lamb Chops
Easter is fast approaching! My husband, Tony, is Greek Orthodox, usually celebrating Greek Easter on a different Sunday than the Catholic and Protestant celebration. This is because the Orthodox Greek Church uses the Julian calendar and the astronomical full moon as the basis for calculating Easter, as opposed to the Gregorian calendar that's followed by the Catholics and Protestant. But, every four years, Easter Sunday and Greek Easter land on the same day—and 2010 is one of those years. It's a relief for me because, in our family, we celebrate both Easters, and this year I don't have to prepare two Easter meals within weeks of each other!

I love to celebrate all the Easter traditions—from coloring Easter eggs to preparing an Easter feast that includes the traditional roasted leg of lamb.

To make sure I wasn't missing out on any traditions, I looked up some of the traditional foods in the United States and discovered that I was indeed missing some elements.
  • Hot cross buns, small wheat cakes, are traditional. I don't think I ever had one—actually, I thought they were made up for a nursery rhyme! In fact, the Greeks make these round flat loaves marked with a cross and decorate them with Easter eggs.
  • Pretzels, another traditional food, were first shaped to indicate the torso of a person with arms folded, praying. Who knew?
  • Ham became a traditional food for Easter because when there wasn't refrigeration, the pork that wasn't eaten during the winter months before Lent was then cured for spring. The hams were ready around Easter, and a tradition of serving ham was born to celebrate the Easter dinner.
Now, I'm sorry, but I'm old school. I believe that ham is for sandwiches, not dinner—and it's always been this way. The traditional Easter feast in our household while I was growing up included marinated roasted leg of lamb with natural pan juices, roasted rosemary potatoes, roasted vegetables, fresh spring baby peas, rice, a huge, fresh garden salad and homemade breads. I've pretty much kept all of the family recipes intact.

Read about Cristina's dinner "masterpiece" and get tips for what to do with your leftover Easter eggs
When I had kids of my own, I decided to include in the feast my own masterpiece. I thought it was genius, but, evidently, my entire family was totally embarrassed by it.

For my masterpiece, I made egg salad with the colored eggs that the Easter Bunny left, then I shaped the egg salad like a bunny—rabbit ears and all! I frosted him like a cake with mayonnaise, cut carrots into matchsticks for whiskers, gave him green olives with pimento sliced for the eyes, the end of the olive for a nose, and then shaped the matchstick carrots to look like a smile. I even surrounded him with beautiful green lettuce to look like he just came from the garden! I was so proud when I first made him, and when the kids were young, they thought it was the best thing on the table—until they turned 10 years old and they gave him his official name, "the stupid-looking lame bunny."

Stupid or not, I still make that bunny as a matter of principle, and we all get a kick out of it! At least my grandchildren, who are 3 and 7, think he's amazing. My older grandchildren? Not so much.

If you, like my older grandchildren, are not sold on the idea of the "stupid-looking lame bunny," I have many other ideas for how to use your boiled Easter eggs!

  • Sliced eggs in fresh salads, especially spinach with crisp pancetta and Greek feta
  • Egg salad sandwiches on rye bread with Dijon mustard, avocado slices and radish sprouts
  • Sliced eggs with crisp bacon, lettuce, tomato in a croissant
  • Egg salad on a toasted English muffin with Muenster cheese and fresh basil
  • Toasted baguette with sliced eggs, spinach, sliced avocado, red onions (sliced thin) and Dijon mustard
  • Seven-grain bread with egg salad, watercress and cucumbers
  • Egg salad on toasted egg bread with anchovies
  • Egg salad on sourdough with prosciutto and wild arugula
  • Egg salad panini sandwich with pepper jack cheese
  • Open-face egg salad sandwich on toasted bread with Dijon mustard, two slices of sharp cheddar cheese melted under broiler till bubbly and melted, served with bread-and-butter pickles on the side
See Cristina's full, modern-day Easter menu with its twists on tradition
A couple of years ago, my girls decided they were done with the traditional leg of lamb. They wanted to bring the lamb up-to-date. So now, we serve several different versions of lamb: the traditional marinated leg of lamb that I make, Arianna's gyros in grilled pita bread with a tzatziki sauce and Alex's grilled baby lamb chops with a simple syrup mint sauce!
Our entire Easter dinner menu:

  • The three different versions of lamb
  • Orzo pasta with shallot vinaigrette and feta cheese
  • Roasted red potatoes with olive oil and rosemary
  • Grilled asparagus with reduced balsamic glaze
  • Fresh garden peas with melted butter and chopped mint
  • "Stupid-looking lame bunny" egg salad
  • Deviled eggs
  • Greek salad
  • Assorted fresh baked breads
  • Rice pudding
  • Assorted cookies and Greek sweets
I would now like to share this recipe for Grilled Lamb Chops with Simple Syrup Mint Dipping Sauce for your own Easter dinner, created by my daughter Arianna with a few added touches of my own. I know you will love to serve it to your family for any holiday, including dinner any night of the week. Outstanding!

Sending a big Easter basket of love,


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