Once it’s in full swing, Spring time is grandiose and refreshing; don’t get me wrong, I do love it. Never would I wish away the post-winter relief of the colorful yet pale color palette, the darling chirpy afternoon chorus of a dozen birds, nor the promising white buds that peek out from the previously barren tree branches– but the truth is, I’m an autumn lover. I can’t help it! I terribly miss jack-o-lanterns, fresh cranberries, distant smoky bonfires, and of course, Thanksgiving. There is nothing quite like the togetherness centered around gratitude and a loving meal.
I’ve always felt this way, which is why this menu has been a twinkle in my eye for at least five years or so. “What if we have Thanksgiving again, but by a different name, and update the flavors to be more seasonally appropriate?” Year after year, the idea has never left my mind, and to be honest, this final product exceeded my expectations. It’s delicious, fresh, and every single bit as satisfying as a late harvest meal. You and your clan are going to love it.
Maybe it’s Spring, maybe it’s Easter, or maybe it’s hunger– whatever your reason to get together and break hot crossed bread, this menu will be unforgettable. Let’s start with an appetizer!
Basic Cheese ball
Lemon Poppy seed Cheese Ball
So good with some blueberry bagel bites. You can find my recipe right here.
On to the main dish!
See what I did there?
Your guests will be very happy with a well-seasoned lemon chicken, or just any plain, crispy, roasted chicken.
Cranberry SauceRhubarb Sauce
If you think about it, cranberries and rhubarb aren’t too dissimilar. They both have a strong tartness to them (though rhubarb’s is less bitter and more citrusy), and they can both play well on both sweet and savory plates. This rhubarb sauce compliments the chicken just as any cranberry sauce would, and it’s easy to make!
3 stalks fresh rhubarb, chopped, OR 3 cups frozen rhubarb
¾ cup sugar
1 Tbsp water
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp ground coriander
1 Tbsp dried celery flakes OR ¼ tsp celery seed
pinch finely ground white pepper (optional)
pinch ground fennel seeds (optional)
Place a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add about ⅔ of the chopped rhubarb, sugar, salt, and water. Place lid on the saucepan and bring to a boil until rhubarb is broken down and reaches a syrupy consistency, about 20-25 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium, and add remaining rhubarb, coriander, celery flakes or seeds, and white pepper.
Stir to combine, place lid back on pot, and boil another 5-10 minutes, until remaining rhubarb chunks are soft and translucent.
Serve warm or room temperature.
Panzanella is a Mediterranean bread salad that is essentially a fresher, lighter stuffing.
There are no eggs and it isn’t baked, but like stuffing it is made with a day-old bread that will soak up all the juices and flavors of its neighbors. It requires only throwing a few ingredients together and leaving it alone for a few hours. Your fridge will do much of the work.
I adapted traditional panzanella to host some more spring-forward flavors. You can do the same and add or subtract any veggies you want. For example, if feta isn’t your thing, add fresh mozzarella pearls.
1 day-old baguette, cubed
½ pint each yellow and red grape tomatoes
1 clove garlic, grated
1 cup lightly steamed sugar snap peas
⅔ cup crumbled feta cheese
1 Tbsp feta brine (liquid)
2 scallions, sliced
2 radishes, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 Tbsp chopped dill
1 Tbsp chopped basil
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp lemon juice
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Combine all ingredients in a very large mixing bowl. Combine well. If necessary, transfer panzanella to a plastic container or Ziploc bag, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Serve chilled or room temperature.
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Transparently, I tried them with some toasted marshmallows on top. Believe it or not, I kinda liked it!
Green Bean Casserole
Asparagus and Goat Cheese Casserole
Use your favorite green bean casserole recipe and swap out green beans for FRESH asparagus.
Trim the tough ends from the asparagus, then cut the stalks into thirds. Steam them lightly before adding them into the cream base. Asparagus cooks more quickly than green beans, and if you’re not mindful of this, you’ll be serving mushy veggies!
Take it to the next level and crumble or melt some goat cheese into the cream base. It’s excellent with the mushrooms and asparagus!
Greek Goddess Salad
This is my own invention, and I’m pretty proud of it. It’s a hybrid of Green Goddess dressing and classic Greek vinaigrette. It combines lots of fresh herbs, Greek yogurt, and olive oil to make a fresh burst of flavor that’s perfect on any greens, especially arugula!
Find the recipe right here. My Pesto Vinaigrette is also great this time of year!
Roasted Red New Potatoes
Next up, drinks!
This is so simple and everyone will love it. Simply serve some fresh mint and basil alongside a pitcher of lemonade, and your guests can help themselves to whatever herbs they please. Let them know if they rub the leaves or tear them in half, they’ll give off the most flavor!
Another great thing you could do is set up a lemonade bar. Serve fresh berries, sliced cucumber, watermelon, pineapple, fresh rosemary, fresh thyme, fresh lavender or lavender oil, iced tea, or any flavored vodkas that would go well with lemonade. This bar will be a crowd-pleaser whether you offer three inclusions or a dozen.
Coconut Cake Cocktail
Get the recipe here! Finally, it’s time for dessert!
I just love this cake. It’s sweet and complex in flavors, and it sneaks just a wee bit of white wine into this filling. Find it here!
Cinnamon Ice Cream
This is such an easy, and actually pretty darn healthy, dessert. Make it just before you’re ready to serve it. If it sits in the freezer for more than an hour, it will freeze icy solid and won’t be scoopable.
You can do this with honeydew, cantaloupe, or watermelon. If you’re feeling like a foodie, try adding some cucumber to honeydew sorbet! This recipe is also great with some mint leaves pulsed in toward the end of blending.
Lastly, if you only have frozen melon and no fresh, that’s ok! It will just take you a little longer to blend up the mixture to a smooth consistency. I would highly recommend adding a splash of coconut milk or coconut water to get the process going.
Melon Sorbet- serves 3 people
½ cup fresh melon
3 cups frozen melon
2 tsp lemon or lime juice
3 Tbsp honey or agave
Place all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse the blade a few times to begin breaking up frozen melon chunks, then leave the machine running until the mixture is a smooth sorbet with no frozen chunks. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Serve immediately.
And last but not least…
White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Pie
If you love pecan pie like I do, you’re gonna love this!
Macadamia Nut Pie
1 prepared pie shell (raw)
¼ brown sugar
⅔ cup agave or light corn syrup
4 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
4 oz (1 bar) white chocolate, OR ⅔ cup white chocolate chips
6.25 oz jar macadamia nuts*
*If nuts are unsalted or lightly salted, add ½ tsp salt
Adjust oven an oven rack to the lowest slot and place a baking sheet on the rack. Preheat oven to 425°.
Using a fork, prick a few holes in the bottom of the pie crust dough to avoid air pockets in final crust. Refrigerate crust.
In a mixing bowl, thoroughly whisk eggs together until completely smooth and no streaks of egg white remain. Add brown sugar, agave or corn syrup, butter, salt (if included), and vanilla. Mix until completely smooth.
Fold in macadamia nuts. Remove pie shell from refrigerator and add macadamia filling. With clean hands, break white chocolate into bite-sized pieces and sprinkle sporadically on top of macadamia filling.
Place unbaked pie on preheated baking sheet, and bake on the bottom rack for about 30-40 minutes, until crust and filling look golden brown and the filling does not jiggle. Let cool for at least one hour before serving.
This menu will probably be an annual tradition for me. It hits the spot! Happy Spring to all my readers!Add to Favourites