It has been snowing a lot this year—well, okay, a lot for Maryland—and I am more than ready for spring. With the few warm days we’ve had in the last week, and a few tiny yellow flower buds popping up in our yard, my mind is already on Easter—it’s coming up early this year (March 27)!
Easter has always been my favorite holiday. I was raised Catholic and I’m Polish, so it was always a big deal holiday—and Polish people take their celebrating seriously. I don’t strictly follow any religion anymore, but I still love the traditional food, the opportunity to celebrate with loved ones, and a way to celebrate the beginning of spring, the world coming to life.
The traditional food bit has always been my favorite. (Full disclosure: some of it is pretty weird. Even for someone raised on it, who loves it, it’s delicious… But weird.)
A Polish holiday meal in my family’s household has always meant an appetizer course, a cold course, a soup course, a hot course, desserts—and, yes, vodka—ample opportunity for boisterous conversation. What’s not to love?
This year, I’ve decided to host Easter. For me, this is a big deal. We’re just having family over—about 10 people—and it’s the first holiday I’ve hosted! My husband and I just bought a house, he’s building us a farm table, and I’m tired of letting our moms have all the glory. Truth: I love dinner parties. I love planning them, and cooking for them, and hosting them, and going to them, and being at them. Heck, I love them so much I even love cleaning up after them. (Too far?)
I want things to go well, and I’m planning way in advance to be extra prepared. To some (my husband, for example) the thought of planning such an elaborate gathering (especially one loaded with Expectations), the planning and prepping involved is a nightmare. For me, the planning and prepping is what I do to de-stress after work.
It’s a way to get excited, to come up with interesting ideas and backup plans, and to reflect on the exciting celebration. It’s also a time to think about how to change up the traditional menu a touch, maximize my ingredients, and make sure that by the time I’m grocery shopping for the holiday, I know what I need to get.
Our guests have a mix of diets, including our own. My husband and I are mostly vegetarian, sometimes pescatarian (best summed up with Michael Pollan’s quote—“eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants”), so that is already a break from your typical, traditional Polish Easter—no meat. (Well, the moms will probably bring some Polish white sausage, but I’m not planning to cook any otherwise.) This gave me some room to think about adding new dishes to the standard fare for my family—not too much, but a little break from tradition can be a good thing!
Here’s my menu for this year’s Easter:
- Śledzie (pickled herring)
- Polish Vegetable Potato Salad
- Pickled Mushrooms
- Beet Pickled Deviled Eggs* from The Kitchn
- Sourdough Bread
- Jajka Faszerowane (Stuffed Eggshells)
- Biscuits (with butter and jam)* from Smitten Kitchen
- Mushroom Pate* from Smitten Kitchen
- Blueberry Brie Pastry Bites*, adapted from Just A Taste
- Veggie Pot Pie*
- Crab-Stuffed Baked Fish with Mustard Sauce*, adapted from Bam’s Kitchen
- Brown Sugared Carrots* from Martha Stewart
- Roasted Asparagus Salad*
- Roasted Potatoes
- Mazurek (Dark Chocolate, Coconut, Dulce de Leche)
- Yellow Cake with Raspberry Buttercream and Lemon Curd* from Food52
*New items I’ve added to my mom’s traditional Easter. These are definitely not traditional-Polish, let alone traditional-Polish-Easter-food—but they’re a few of my favorite items that I think will pair nicely with the rest of the meal. There are also some things my family always made that I’m choosing to leave out.
Have a hoppy Easter!