A Cut Above: Easter Dinner

Every month, discover new ideas to enjoy the simple but elegant pleasures of a delicious, easy-to-prepare meal.
Easter DinnerA Cut Above

Busy or not, here we come. Every month “A Cut Above” serves up new recipes, cooking tips and ideas for dishes that are elegant in taste and presentation, yet simple enough to prepare and enjoy in a snap.

T. S. Eliot once wrote that April was the cruelest month. All that wet muck promises spring flowers but only brings more rain, expectation and not much fulfillment.

Yet where we live, in Connecticut, April is far from cruel. It's gorgeous. By mid-month fresh, green produce has made its entrance: lettuce, peas, asparagus-early signs of what's to come and a pleasure to cook and eat.

Maybe that's why lamb is such great fare for Easter. It's tender, sweet and incredibly easy. You put it in a hot oven and it's done with nary a trouble. Paired with a nutty, asparagus-laced pilaf and lemon-and-plum sundaes and enjoyed with family, friends, neighbors and children, this feast is a reminder that no matter how bad winter was, spring comes. Always.

Stuffed Boneless Leg of Lamb
The boneless leg for this simple roast needs to be butterflied; that is, cut open so it lays flat. Have the butcher do it for you.

Stuffed Boneless Leg of Lamb

Makes 12 servings

PointsPlus™ value per serving: 5

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup dried apricots (3 ounces)
  • Boiling water
  • 1 large shallot, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • One 4-pound lean boneless leg of lamb, butterflied and trimmed of surface fat
  • Butchers' twine

Instructions

  1. Place the apricots in a medium bowl, cover with boiling water to a depth of 1 inch, and set aside to soften for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Drain the apricots, spread them out on a cutting board, and mince them to a coarse paste by rocking a large knife through them, changing the blade's direction and position as you go. Scrape this apricot mash into a bowl and stir in the shallot, rosemary, salt and pepper.
  3. Place the leg of lamb on your work surface, smooth side down; spread the apricot mixture over the exposed portion of the meat. Starting at one of the long sides, roll the leg closed, forming a neat, fat (if rather lumpy) sausage-like roll. Tie with twine in three places to keep closed—not so tight that the filling squeezes out but tight enough to hold the roll in shape.
  4. Place lamb in a heavy roasting pan and bake, basting occasionally with the pan juices, until an instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 145°F for medium-rare or 150°F for medium, about 2 hours. Set aside to rest at room temperature before slicing off the twine and carving the roast into 24 rounds.
  • Serving size: 2 slices

Wild Rice, Barley and Asparagus Pilaf
Hardly traditional, this hearty side dish could be a meal on its own, alongside a cup of soup or a light green salad. Use pure wild rice, not a blend of wild and brown rice.

Wild Rice, Barley and Asparagus Pilaf

Makes 12 servings

PointsPlus™ value per serving: 3

Ingredients

  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 3/4 cup raw wild rice
  • 1 cup pearl barley (do not use quick-cooking)
  • 1 medium shallot, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried sage
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 10 ounce pencil-thin asparagus spears, cut into 2-inch segments

Instructions

  1. Bring the broth and rice to a simmer in a large saucepan; cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. Stir in the barley, shallot, salt, thyme, sage and pepper. Cover and continue simmering over low heat for 25 minutes.
  3. Stir in the asparagus, cover, reduce the heat even further and simmer slowly for 5 minutes. Set aside off the heat, covered, for 10 minutes before fluffing with a fork.
  • Serving size: 1/2 cup

Plum, Mint and Lemon Sorbet Sundaes
Here's something easy after roasting a leg of lamb. These "sundaes" are best when the plums are very ripe, a little soft and quite juicy. Use premium lemon sorbet for this bright, refreshing dessert.

Plum, Mint and Lemon Sorbet Sundaes

Makes 12 servings

PointsPlus™ value per serving: 2

Ingredients

  • 4 medium plums, red, pitted, thinly sliced
  • 16 mint leaves, minced
  • 4 tsp sugar
  • 3 cups sorbet, lemon-variety

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, toss together plums, mint and sugar; refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
  2. Place 1/4 cup scoop of sorbet in each of six bowls; spoon 1/4 cup of plums and a teaspoon or two of their juice over top.
  • Serving size: 1 sundae

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