Easter and the Side Dishes

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Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Local Cook 

Just to make sure I have your attention, the above photo gives you a taste of dessert early on. These Coconut Toasties (recipe below) come together quickly as all of these Easter side dishes do.

If you are serving meat on Easter you most probably have already decided on ham or lamb. A pleasing sauce for either is a quick one of equal parts maple syrup and soy sauce with a nice extra large dollop of Dijon mustard. The tart can be served as an appetizer although I think it’s very special as a vegetable side dish. The asparagus and mixed mushroom vegetables simply shout spring.

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Radish, Herb Chevre, and Garlic Chive Tart

Serves 6

 Might you be WILD for the brilliance and fresh crunch of a spring radishes right about now? Your timing is per-fect! Maybe you didn’t know that a roasted radish yields a most sweet red orb. This radish side dish which serves as a vegetable and starch, is deceiving in its elegance as it is actually thrown together very quickly. My garlic chives are well on their way in the garden, as I hope your peas may be. 

 Serve the tart warm or at room temperature. If you reheat it, please use the oven and not a microwave.

 Note: Most puff pastry comes in 16-ounce packages in the freezer section of the supermarket. Each package usually contains 2 sheets. You will need just half of one sheet for this recipe, unless you want to double it.

  •  1/2 sheet puff pastry, from being cut in half lengthwise.
  • Dijon mustard
  • about 4-ounces Herb Chevre, softened
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water
  • Fresh radishes, washed, dried, each end cut 
  • 1 cup fresh lightly steamed or frozen peas, thawed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Fresh garlic chives, minced

 Preheat the oven to 375F.

 Place the puff pastry on a flat baking sheet pan and spread thinly with the mustard and then the chevre cheese, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edge. Brush only the exposed puff pastry with the egg wash. Bake in the preheated oven for 15minutes

 Meanwhile, slice the radishes thinly with a mandoline. Place the radish slices and peas in a medium bowl. Add a dash of salt and pepper. Add the olive oil and toss.

 After baking puff pastry for 15 minutes, remove the puff pastry from the oven momentarily, and layer slices of radish on top of the chevre. Bake for 8-10 more minutes until puff pastry edges are puffed and brown. Remove from oven and sprinkle with peas and garlic chives.

 When cooled slightly, place on platter. Cut in slices.

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Lemon Thyme Asparagus with Mixed Mushrooms

Serves 4-6

Delectably simply, this elegant vegetable dish will round out any meal or even act as the filling for an omelet. 

  • 1 pound fresh asparagus, cleaned and tough ends trimmed, cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup dehydrated porcini mushrooms, snipped into small pieces and rehydrated in white wine or vegetable broth
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon thyme (or thyme)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

 In a large saute pan, place a thin film of water and bring to a boil. Add the asparagus; cover with a lid and cook for 1 minute. Remove lid, add olive oil and shiitake mushrooms. Toss to coat; saute for 2 minutes. Drain porcini mushrooms and squeeze out moisture. Add to skillet along with lemon thyme and toss to warm. Season with salt and pepper.

 Serve immediately. 

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Coconut Toasties

Yield: approximately 36

 Please excuse me for being a bit Paleo with this recipe, however, it is also very Easter(ish), stress-free with nutritionally-rich coconut. No baking needed here-just toast the coconut.

  • 3 cups shredded unsweetened coconut, toasted (1/2 cup saved for garnish)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (not melted)
  • 2 tablespoons raw honey (more or less depending on taste preference)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Whole almonds, if desired
  •  mini muffin tin
  • mini muffin cupcake papers

 Place the2 1/2 cups coconut (reserving the 1/2 cup of toasted coconut), coconut oil, honey and vanilla in a blender or a food processor and blend at high speed until the mixture is well mixed and a creamy paste. 

 Place the mini muffin cup papers in the muffin tin. Fill  each paper with coconut mixture and press it down with your fingers so that it fills them up 2/3 way. Lightly press an almond into the center of each one if using almonds. Mound with the reserved toasted coconut on the top of each.

Place them into the freezer for about an hour to firm up. Once they are firm, pop them out of the muffin tin and serve.

 Store in the refrigerator in a container. 

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