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Easter Around The World

Easter Around The World

As the first major holiday of spring, Easter is extra special for those who celebrate. Because of its religious significance the Easter holiday, preceded by Holy Week, is an occasion for family and friends to come together in observance. In the United States, the Easter Bunny brings secular whimsy and gives children something to look forward to in the form of painted egg hunts and chocolate baskets. For adults, there is the joy of watching children search for sweet treats, as well as the opportunity to share a meal with family and friends and reflect on the meaning of the holiday itself.

Whenever people come together for a meal, tradition is the order of the day. Some traditions are unique to certain families and are carried forward through generations, while others are common to a city, state, region, and country. On an American table, you’re most likely to see an Easter ham or lamb along with classic comfort sides such as potatoes au gratin and green bean casserole. For dessert, don’t be surprised if you’re served sweet breads and buns as well as an Easter coconut cake. It’s a spread to rival any major holiday meal. Other parts of the world have their own Easter culinary classics. It’s fun to explore how the rest of the world eats during this special time.

Italy

In Italy, your main course will most likely be lamb. Depending on the region, it can be simply roasted with spices or served as a stew, as well as other preparations. Artichokes, potatoes and fried rice balls are served as traditional side dishes. We can’t forget the cheese. Italians eat cheese at every opportunity, and who can blame them? The very famous ring shaped ciambellone bread/cake is also included, as well as other sweeter desserts such as individual pastry tarts and a candied dove-shaped cake.

Spain

In Spain, some traditional Easter dishes include Sopa de Ajo (Garlic Soup), a soup that is made with chicken broth, garlic and pepper. Bread and a fried egg are added for extra hardiness. Another popular meal is the Potaje de Vigilia stew. This is an easy stew to prepare with chickpeas, onion, spinach, garlic, pepper and a hard boiled egg. Resembling a thick sandwich, the Hornazo is a meat pie filled with chorizo, pork loin, and eggs. When you’re ready for dessert, try a Bartolillo. This custard filled sweet empanada with powdered sugar on top will leave any sweet tooth satisfied.

France

A traditional French Easter dinner consists of wholesome, delicious, simple, and elegantly prepared recipes. To start you’ll most likely be served a French onion soup, which will prepare your palate for the amazing flavors to come. Lamb is usually the protein served at this celebratory meal and it is roasted for hours with a variety of spices until mouth-wateringly tender. Potatoes au gratin with garlic, heavy cream and Gruyere cheese provide richness and caramelized brussel sprouts represent the mandatory green vegetable. To finish off, you can indulge in a classic apple tart or a few sweet, flaky cinnamon palmiers. Bon appetit!

Argentina/Uruguay

Like so many other parts of the world, both Argentina and Uruguay celebrate Easter with wonderful chocolates and sweet sticky breads. But one of their most delightful seasonal dishes is known as a Torta Pascualina (Easter Tort). Italian immigrants brought this scrumptious savory pie to Argentina and Uruguay in the early 20th century. It is particularly popular because it is meatless, which helps observers stay meat-free during Lent. It is prepared with spinach, chard, spices, eggs and cheese all baked in a piecrust. There are some slight variations in the crust as well as the spices, but the idea and culinary experience remains the same. We’ve included a sample recipe for this dish below.

Regardless of what part of the world you live in, holidays are a time to break bread with those you love. Maybe your bread is sweet and maybe you like to dip it in a stew, and those preferences are what make the world go round. Reading about it makes you want to travel, discover, and it definitely makes you want to eat!  What dish will you try next Easter?

Torta Pascualina

Ingredients

For the pascualina

2 discs shortcrust pastry (see recipe below)

12 oz fresh spinach

1 lb chard (green leaves only)

1 red pepper, diced

2 tablespoons oil

1 onion, thinly sliced

4 hard boiled eggs, halved

2 eggs

8 oz. grated mozzarella

2 oz. grated Parmesan cheese

Salt

Pepper

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 tablespoon sugar

For the shortcrust pastry

1 cup butter (at room temperature)

1 lb flour

1 teaspoon salt

Instructions

Pascualina

1.Preheat oven to 350 F.

2.Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add 1 tablespoon of salt, then add the chard and spinach and blanch for about 3 minutes. Remove the vegetables and drain in a colander. Let cool, then squeeze out the excess water in your hands.

3.Sauté the onions and peppers in a skillet on medium/high with two tablespoons of oil. After a few minutes, add the chard and spinach. Sauté for another 8 to 10 minutes, while stirring. Season with salt, pepper and grated nutmeg.

4.In a bowl, combine the raw eggs with shredded mozzarella and parmesan.

5.Remove the vegetable preparation from the heat. Add the cheese mixture to it and mix thoroughly. Let cool completely.

6.In a mold with high edges, place the first disc of dough. The disc should extend about 1 inch from the edge of the mold. Fill with the preparation.

7.Arrange each half hard-boiled egg regularly on the mixture, with the white on top.

8.Cover with the second disc of dough which must also cover about an inch outside the mold. Fold and roll the edges of the two discs together and push them along the edges of the mold.

9.Mix a raw egg with a tablespoon of water and brush the top of the pascualina. Sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar over the dough.

10.Bake for about 40 minutes.

11.Serve hot or warm.

Shortcrust pastry

1.Combine flour and salt in a stand mixer bowl. Add the butter and mix to obtain a crumbly dough. Add about ½ cup of water and knead until the dough comes off the edges of the bowl. Add more water if necessary.

2.Split the dough into 2 equal parts. Roll each part into a circle shape on a floured work surface, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.