An Easter dinner should feel like a special occasion, but it doesn't have to require hours and hours in the kitchen. Our menu features a succulent roast leg of lamb with a simple gravy thickened with vegetables, a decadent gratin that can bake alongside the lamb, and a salad of tender spring greens. Hors d'oeuvres made from skewered shrimp and scallops dress up the meal but are a snap to assemble. Chocolate cupcakes topped with fluffy white clouds of frosting and coconut finish things off in style.
- Honey-Mustard-Glazed Shrimp and Scallops: The shrimp and scallops can be skewered together on toothpicks up to eight hours before cooking. Simply chill them on a plate, covered with plastic wrap, until you're ready to use them.
- Herb-Roasted Leg of Lamb with Vegetables and Jus: This boneless leg of lamb takes just over two hours to cook but doesn't require much attention during that time. Put it in the oven in the afternoon, and you'll be free to go about other tasks until you take it out and make the gravy just before dinner.
- Artichoke, Leek, and Potato Gratin: The gratin can be assembled up to one day ahead. Cover and chill it, then take it out of the fridge when you put the lamb in the oven (so it can stand at room temperature for one hour). When the lamb has roasted for one hour and it's time to uncover it, place the gratin in the oven alongside the roasting pan so both dishes can cook at the same time.
- Green Salad with Orange, Fennel, and Asparagus: The base for the vinaigrette — the vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt, pepper, and oil — can be mixed together up to three days ahead. Chill it, covered, then let it stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes before adding the orange zest and juice and tossing it with the salad.
- Chocolate-Almond Cupcakes with Fluffy Coconut Frosting: These cakes can be made one day ahead: Cool them in the pan, run a knife around the edges of each cup to loosen them, then cover the pan with plastic wrap and keep at room temperature. They can be iced and coated with coconut up to five hours before serving.
Elegant Easter dinner for eight
- Honey-Mustard Glazed Shrimp and Scallops
- Cucumber Gimlets
- Green Salad with Orange, Fennel, and Asparagus
- Wine pairings: A subtle Merlot such as the 2004 Arrowood Vineyards & Winery (Sonoma County) or the 2005 Christian Moueix (Pomerol), or a firm, acidic Sauvignon Blanc such as the 2007 Villa Maria Private Bin (Marlborough, New Zealand) or the 2006 Pascal Jolivet (Sancerre, Loire Valley)
- Chocolate-Almond Cupcakes with Fluffy Coconut Frosting
- Coffee or espresso