Traditional family foods perfect for Easter dinner

Traditional family dishes have and always will be important to family holiday dinners. Ham, raisin sauce, scalloped potatoes, asparagus and a spring salad are the current favorites at my family’s Easter dinner table.

Many families include dishes symbolic of their heritage, which means there will be pans of lasagna, enchiladas, Greek salads or other dishes added to the occasion.

Passover has come into our family with friends and through marriage. Some of those traditional dishes now are some of my favorites.

All these dishes are the true family comfort foods that bring back memories while building new ones. No wonder we plan for weeks for a holiday meal, because it’s much more than just a meal.

As families grow and new family members bring their family favorites, traditions tend to morph. Gone is the iceberg lettuce, replaced by dark, luscious salad greens. Strawberries are not only for dessert but are included in beautiful spring salads. Sauces and glazes for that ham (spiral sliced at our house) are becoming more adventurous, and that’s OK, as long as the raisin sauce remains (says my husband Fred and our grandson, Josh).

Since you already have your family favorites, I’ll toss out some ideas you may like to try.

Ham Salad With Hot Peanut Dressing

While this recipe comes from the Pork Council ( it’s delicious with poultry and salmon also.

1 tablespoon oil
1/4 cup peanut butter
3 tablespoons fresh (and I mean fresh) lime juice
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon ground ginger (I use about 2 teaspoons grated fresh)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon sugar
1 medium cucumber, seeded and thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
6 cups romaine or curly endive, torn
1 head radicchio or Boston lettuce

Thinly slice ham, heat slightly in microwave or skillet; keep warm.

For dressing, combine vegetable oil, peanut butter, lime juice, soy sauce, ginger, garlic and sugar in blender, blend well. Heat dressing.

Toss cucumber, red onion, romaine and endive together. Arrange salads on plates; line with radicchio or Boston lettuce, top with tossed vegetables, arrange ham or other meat atop and spoon over hot dressing.

Spring Salad

Using dark greens or romaine, add sliced strawberries, toasted almond slices, thinly sliced red onion along with jicama, cucumber, or vegetables of your choice.

Toss with raspberry vinaigrette or your choice, OR: 1 part orange juice to 3 parts oil, seasonings and perhaps a little Dijon mustard.

# # #

Smoked Ham With Cranberry Chutney


1 4–8 pounds fully cooked smoked ham
1 16-ounce can whole-berry cranberry sauce
One, 8 1/4-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
One 5-ounce bottle prepared horseradish

Place ham in shallow baking pan. Bake, uncovered, in a 325-degree oven until meat reaches 140 degrees. While baking combine remaining ingredients in bowl, serve immediately or chill until serving with ham.

# # #

Ham With Blueberry Sauce

Slices of leftover holiday ham
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/3 cup apricot preserves
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons dry red wine (local of course)
4 teaspoons lemon juice
1 cup fresh blueberries

Sauce: In small sauce pan, combine water and cornstarch: stir in blueberries; cook and stir 2–3 minutes more. Spoon sauce on warmed ham slices.


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