At Easter you may serve tender spring vegetables like peas and asparagus. But there is a long-standing tradition of breaking the Lenten fast with rich, creamy dishes and generous amounts of meat, assuming that you have deprived yourself for 40 days. Since we love a hearty side dish, we collected some of our favorites that pair well with ham or lamb. And there are plenty of potatoes. Always potatoes…
1. Truffle butter pommes Anna. This classic French potato cake is crispy on the outside with a tender center. Black truffle butter adds earthy flavor, while a bit of duck fat keeps the butter from burning – we wouldn’t want that now, would we? Originally created by a French chef named Adolf Dugléré, who owned the Café Anglais in Paris, it is named after Anna Deslions, who was an actress and celebrity known to frequent the cafe in the 1800s.
2. Cauliflower gratin with black truffle butter. Cauliflower recipes are everywhere these days – you will even see pizza crust made with this venerable vegetable. We like our cauliflower with a dose of cream, cheese and truffle. This makes for a tasty side at any meal.
3. Ham, Asparagus, & Wild Mushroom Strata. This cheesy casserole is part frittata, part savory bread pudding, and totally delicious. If you don’t make this for Easter dinner, it’s a great way to use up leftover ham post-holiday. We made this with boneless ham (available in 1 1/2- 3 lb size), but bone-in ham, or even smoked chicken would also work.
4. Scalloped potatoes with leeks and ventrèche is creamy and cheesy, with a satisfying truffled crunch on top. We used black truffle butter in the pan and stirred a bit with the panko crumbs for the topping. A layer of crispy ventrèche – the French equivalent of pancetta – in the middle gives satisfying texture and a boost of flavor.
5. One last potato recipe! Truffled hasselback potatoes. This one is great for a holiday meal – it’s impressive and fairly easy to make. The careful slicing is the most time-consuming part of the process. We made things interesting with ham crisps and truffle butter.