FeaturesApr/May 2014 Issue

How to Prepare an Allergy-Friendly Easter Dinner

Here's a glorious menu you'll find perfect for family celebrating.

Easter dinner was the first occasion I shared with my husband’s family. His mother Greta was 90 at the time and wasn’t cooking anymore. She took nine of us to her favorite restaurant where I got to know the family while we ate. The next Easter, I cooked dinner for the family at Greta’s house. As everyone laughed and feasted around her large table, I felt like I was part of the clan.

Greta is no longer with us but her generous table graces our home and my husband and I now host the family’s Easter dinner each year. This special meal is a celebration that always features spring produce—asparagus, peas, baby carrots, young radishes and strawberries—served in new ways every Easter.

Socca blini make an elegant starter. These are topped with tender sautéed asparagus and a yogurt-chive sauce.

Leg of lamb is the star of the meal. Seasoned with an Italian salsa verde that’s packed with fresh mint, Kalamata olives and lemon, the meat is rolled for a pretty presentation and roasted. Then it’s thinly sliced and served with more of this piquant sauce.

Caramelized roasted potato and fennel wedges accompany the lamb, along with mustard-honey glazed baby carrots. A butter lettuce salad, bursting with peas and radishes, rounds out the main course.

Dessert is a crispy, fluffy meringue that’s scented with a hint of nutmeg. Fashioned into nests, the meringue is filled with lemon curd and sliced berries and embellished with a lemon-caramel sauce for a mouthwatering treat that’s crunchy, creamy, tart and sweet. For those avoiding eggs, the sauce works magic drizzled over dairy-free ice cream.


Roast Herb Stuffed Lamb photo

© Brian Ambrose Photography

Gluten-Free Roast Herb Stuffed Leg of Lamb with Olive Salsa Verde


A sauce of fragrant olive oil and fresh herbs flavors the meat before cooking and is served alongside. Baby arugula adds a refreshing contrast to the rich lamb. Lamb benefits from being seasoned a day ahead; then simply place it in the oven on the day of your dinner.

Salsa Verde

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
? cup chopped fresh mint
? cup chopped pitted Kalamata olives
? cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup minced shallot
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
¾ teaspoon coarse kosher salt or to taste
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper


1 (4-5 pound) boneless leg of lamb, butterflied
2 tablespoons minced shallot
-Coarse kosher salt
-Freshly ground black pepper
1 Package (about 7 ounces) fresh baby arugula

1. To make salsa verde, place oil, parsley, mint, olives, lemon juice, ¼ cup shallot, lemon zest, ¾ teaspoon salt, black pepper and red pepper in a medium bowl and mix well. Taste and add more salt, if desired.

2. On a work surface, open the lamb fat side down. Sprinkle the top with 2 tablespoons minced shallot and generously season with salt and pepper. Spread ¼ cup salsa verde over the lamb. Roll up the meat, using kitchen twine to tie it tightly every 2 inches to hold its shape. Rub any overflowing salsa verde or oil over the outside of the lamb and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Cover and marinate 2 hours at room temperature or refrigerate overnight. (If refrigerated, let lamb sit at room temperature for 2 hours before roasting.)

3. Preheat oven to 450°F.

4. Place lamb, fat side up, on a rack in a roasting pan. Set the pan on the center rack in preheated oven and roast 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350°F and continue roasting until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 120°F to 125°F for medium-rare, about 50 minutes longer.

5. Remove meat from oven and tent loosely with foil for 20 to 30 minutes. Before carving, remove twine and slice the meat thinly.

6. Cover a serving platter with arugula. Arrange lamb slices over the arugula. Spoon some of the salsa verde over the meat and serve, passing remaining salsa verde separately.

Each serving contains 453 calories, 33g total fat, 7g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 116mg cholesterol, 338mg sodium, 3g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 1g sugars, 38g protein, 1Est GL.


After seasoning the lamb with salt, pepper and ¼ cup salsa verde, don’t roll it. Instead, place the meat, fat side down, in a roasting pan. Roast 15 minutes in preheated 450°F oven. Then decrease the temperature to 375°F and continue roasting until done, about 20 minutes longer for medium-rare. For a rosy medium-rare, the meat’s internal temperature is 120°F to 125°F. For medium, 130°F to 140°F.


Gluten-Free Roasted Potatoes and Fennel with Orange and Fennel Seed


While the lamb roasts, cut and season the vegetables and place them in their pans. Put them in the oven the minute the lamb is removed, increasing oven temperature to 450°F. The vegetables will be ready once the lamb has rested, been sliced and arranged on a platter.

2 tablespoons fennel seed
6 large russet potatoes (about 3 pounds)
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1½ teaspoons coarse kosher salt, divided
1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
1½ tablespoons orange zest (about 2 large oranges), divided
3 large fennel bulbs

1. Position one rack in the middle and one in the lower third of the oven. Preheat oven to 450°F.

2. Place fennel seeds in a small skillet and toast over medium-high heat until fragrant, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a spice mill or mortar and grind.

3. Peel potatoes, if desired. Cut in half lengthwise and then cut each half lengthwise into 4 wedges. Transfer to a large bowl. Add 3 tablespoons oil, 1½ tablespoons ground fennel seed, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper and 1 tablespoon orange zest. Toss ingredients until potatoes are coated. Arrange potatoes in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet.

4. Trim fennel bulbs. Cut in half lengthwise and then cut each half into wedges that are ½-inch thick at the widest part. Transfer to the same bowl used for the potatoes. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, ½ tablespoon fennel seed, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper and remaining ½ tablespoon orange zest. Toss ingredients until fennel wedges are coated. Arrange in a single layer on another large rimmed baking sheet. (If all the potatoes do not fit on one sheet, add some to the sheet with the fennel.)

5. Arrange one pan on each oven rack and roast until vegetables are brown and tender, about 25 minutes. Transfer to a platter and serve.

Each serving contains 312 calories, 8g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 421mg sodium, 57g carbohydrate, 7g fiber, 2g sugars, 7g protein, 25Est GL.


You can save a few steps if you have a very large bowl. Toss potatoes, fennel and all other ingredients in one big bowl. Then divide coated vegetables between two sheet pans and roast as directed.


Gluten-Free Mustard Glazed Baby Carrots


Infused with sweet-savory flavor, these carrots are perfect with lamb. Instead of bags of machine-cut “baby” carrots, use true baby carrots or larger carrots cut into long, slender fingers about the size of young carrots.

3 pounds baby or slender carrots, peeled, trimmed, leaving ½ inch of green tops attached (about 2¼ pounds after trimming)
? cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard
-Coarse kosher salt
-Freshly ground black pepper

1. Cook carrots in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 8 minutes. Drain.

2. Heat oil and honey in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add carrots and stir until heated through. Add mustard and stir to glaze the carrots.

3. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

Each serving contains 168 calories, 10g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 207mg sodium, 21g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 14g sugars, 1g protein, 7Est GL.


Reduce the number of last-minute steps by blanching the carrots early in the day. Then reheat and glaze them before serving.


Gluten-Free Pea, Radish and Butter Lettuce Salad


This refreshing dish features springtime veggies. French breakfast radishes, which are slender, pink radishes with a splash of white at the tip, have a delicate flavor and are worth trying here.

4 cups fresh shelled peas (from about 4 pounds peas in pods) or 1 pound frozen petite peas
2 heads butter lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
1 bunch radishes, sliced into rounds


2½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon heavy cream, optional
-Coarse kosher salt
-Freshly ground black pepper

1. Bring a medium pot of salted water to boil. Add peas and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes for fresh or about 2 minutes for frozen. Drain. Place peas in a large bowl and cover with cold water to cool. Drain well.

2. To make dressing, place lemon juice in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Whisk in cream, if using. Season dressing with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Place peas, lettuce and radishes in a salad bowl. Add dressing and toss to coat.

Each serving contains 171 calories, 8g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 137mg sodium, 23g carbohydrate, 8g fiber, 11g sugars, 6g protein, 7Est GL.

Meringue nests photo

© Brian Ambrose Photography

Gluten-Free Meringue Nests with Lemon Curd, Strawberries and Lemon Caramel


Try to find Meyer lemons (about 6 large) for this ethereal dessert. They have a lovely floral fragrance and flavor. For an egg-free dessert, drizzle lemon caramel sauce over ice cream of choice and top with berries. For a dairy-free dessert, omit the whipping cream from the lemon curd.

Meringue Nests

4 large egg whites, room temperature
¾ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
-Pinch of salt
1 cup sugar, divided
? teaspoon ground nutmeg, optional

Lemon Curd

6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter or dairy-free alternative, cut into pieces
½ cup sugar
½ cup fresh lemon juice (preferably Meyer lemon)
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (preferably Meyer lemon)
3 large eggs
? cup chilled whipping cream, optional
2 pints strawberries, stems removed, sliced
-Lemon Caramel Sauce, optional

1. Position one rack in the lower third of oven and one rack in the upper third. Preheat oven to 200°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. To make meringues, combine egg whites, vanilla, cream of tartar and salt in the large bowl of a stand mixer. Using medium-high speed, beat until egg whites hold soft peaks, about 3 minutes. Add ¾ cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating constantly. Continue beating at medium-high speed until whites are stiff, about 5 minutes. Rub a little of the mixture between thumb and finger. If you feel grains of sugar, beat for another minute and test again. Mix nutmeg, if using, into remaining ¼ cup sugar. Add to the meringue and beat until mixture is very stiff, glossy and holds a peak when the beater is lifted straight up, 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Immediately drop the meringue in 8 mounds (about ½ cup each) onto prepared baking sheets. Using the back of a metal spoon, form 8 “nests” by gently pressing a deep, wide indentation in the center of each.

4. Place meringues in preheated oven and bake until they are dry and crisp and can be lifted easily from the parchment, about 2 hours. Turn off heat and let dry completely in closed oven, preferably overnight but at least 2 hours longer. Handle gently as meringue nests are delicate.

5. To make lemon curd, combine butter, ½ cup sugar, lemon juice and zest in a heavy medium-size saucepan. Stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves and mixture just comes to a simmer. Whisk eggs in a medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk hot lemon mixture into eggs. Return mixture to the same saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until curd thickens. Do not boil. Immediately pour the curd through a fine sieve into a bowl, pressing to push all the curd through. Cool slightly. Place plastic wrap on the surface of the curd and refrigerate until cold.

6. Beat whipping cream, if using, into stiff peaks. Fold into the curd. Cover and refrigerate.

7. Just before serving, spoon 2 tablespoons lemon curd into each meringue nest. Top each with berries. If desired, drizzle lemon caramel sauce over each. Serve immediately.

Each serving contains 283 calories, 11g total fat, 6g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 102mg cholesterol, 48mg sodium, 46g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 42g sugars, 4g protein, 28Est GL.


Eggs are more readily separated when they’re cold. Let whites come to room temperature before making the meringue. Before forming meringue nests, place a small dab of meringue under each corner of the parchment paper to hold it in place on baking sheets.

Lemon Caramel Sauce


For an egg-free dessert, top vanilla ice cream or other frozen dessert with sliced strawberries and this sweet and tangy sauce.

? cup sugar
¼ cup water
½ cup fresh lemon juice (preferably Meyer lemon)
½ teaspoon grated lemon zest (preferably Meyer lemon)

1. Combine sugar and ¼ cup water in a small heavy saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves.

2. Increase heat and boil without stirring until syrup is deep amber in color, about 8 minutes. Occasionally swirl the pan and brush down the sides with a pastry brush dipped in water.

3. Carefully add lemon juice and zest to the caramel. (Mixture will bubble vigorously.) Stir over low heat until any bits have dissolved and caramel is smooth. Cool completely.

Each serving contains 68 calories, 0g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 0mg sodium, 18g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 17g sugars, 0g protein,12Est GL.

Kristine Kidd (kristinekidd.com) is former food editor of Bon Apetit magazine and author of Williams-Sonoma Weeknight Gluten Free.

Socca Blini photo

© Brian Ambrose Photography

Gluten-Free Socca Blini with Asparagus and Yogurt-Chive Sauce


Socca is a large Mediterranean chickpea pancake. These small chickpea pancakes topped with sautéed asparagus and yogurt-chive sauce make an elegant appetizer. Yogurt-chive sauce also works on fish, poultry and bean soups. Socca can be made with egg replacement.

Yogurt-Chive Sauce

¾ cup Greek yogurt of choice
¼ cup sliced fresh chives
1½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
-Coarse kosher salt
-Freshly ground black pepper


1½ tablespoons white vinegar
2 cups (about) low-fat milk of choice
1½ cups chickpea flour
1½ teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed
1½ tablespoons minced fresh rosemary


2 pounds thin asparagus
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
-Coarse kosher salt
-Freshly ground black pepper

1. To make the yogurt-chive sauce, place yogurt, chives, 1½ tablespoons oil and lemon zest in a small bowl and mix to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

2. To prepare blini batter, pour vinegar into a 2-cup glass measuring cup. Add enough milk to measure 2 cups. Stir and let stand until thickened, about 5 minutes. (You are making a quick buttermilk; 2 cups buttermilk can be used in place of this vinegar-and-milk mixture.) In a medium bowl, combine chickpea flour, salt and pepper. Add eggs, ¼ cup oil and rosemary to the milk and mix to blend. Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Let mixture stand at least 15 minutes.

3. Snap off the ends of the asparagus where they break naturally and discard the ends. Cut asparagus into 1-inch pieces. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add asparagus and sauté until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and cover to keep warm.

4. Heat a very large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Brush with olive oil to coat. Working in batches, add blini batter by the tablespoon. Cook until bubbles appear on the top and the bottom is brown, about 1½ minutes. Turn and cook until cooked through, about 1 minute longer. Transfer each batch to a warm plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Brush the skillet with oil between batches.

5. Arrange 4 blini on each of 8 plates. Spread about 1 teaspoon sauce over each and top with a few pieces of asparagus. Serve immediately.

Each serving contains 223 calories, 15g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 44mg cholesterol, 349mg sodium, 15g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 4g sugars, 10g protein, 8Est GL.

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