Haven’t decided what you’re serving for Easter yet? Better hop to it.
As we planned our dream Easter lunch menu, we had one major requirement: It had to be low-stress, because between dyeing and hiding eggs, assembling Easter baskets and dealing with visiting family, the last thing we wanted to do was spend hours in the kitchen.
So we built a wow-worthy trio: A showpiece ham and two colorful vegetable side dishes.
The slow-cooked ham from Five Heart Home, made with a simple brine that includes pineapple juice and balsamic vinegar, is a genius choice because there’s almost no work involved: If you put the ham in your crock pot first thing in the morning it will be finished by the time your guests arrive for lunch.
One important thing to keep in mind: If you’re using a pre-cooked ham, be careful not to overcook it, especially if it’s on the smaller side. Since you’re basically just rewarming it to absorb the flavors of the glaze, you may ending up drying out the meat if it’s cooked too long.
To complement the ham’s rich, smoky flavor we chose a refreshing side dish of sugar snap peas paired with a minty pesto. Sandra Desautels of Flying Fourchette uses frozen peas to make the pesto, which saves time, but the stars of this recipe are the fresh sugar snap peas, which need only a quick blanching to show off their color and flavor. “The sugar snap peas stay nicely crisp and the pine nuts and Parmigiano-Reggiano add some crunchiness and depth to this super bright dish,” she writes.
And since you won’t need your oven for the ham, you’ll be able to devote the real estate to Oh My Veggies Kiersten Frase’s side dish of roasted carrots, which are sure to satisfy both adults and kids (tell them it’s the Easter Bunny’s favorite snack). For a rustic, fresh-from-the-garden look that also saves work, leave your carrots whole with the tops on. “Although orange carrots are fine for this recipe, if you can find rainbow carrots, they’ll add a festive pop of color to the table that’s perfect for Easter,” she tells PEOPLE.
Slow-Cooker Brown Sugar Ham
Serves 10 to 12
Fully-cooked ham, approximately 7 to 8 lbs.
2 cups pineapple juice
2 cups brown sugar
4 tsp. dijon mustard
4 tsp.balsamic vinegar
4 tsp. honey
2 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp. water
1. Remove ham from packaging and discard any flavoring packet.
2. Pour pineapple juice into the bottom of a seven-quart oval-shaped slow cooker.
3. In a medium bowl, mix brown sugar, mustard, vinegar and honey into a paste. Spread brown sugar mixture all over ham and place, flat side down, in slow cooker. (If your ham is too large for the slow cooker, cut off a chunk to make it fit.)
4. Cover slow cooker with lid and set to low. Cook ham for 4 to 6 hours or until meat is tender and internal temperature reaches 140°F. If desired, flip and baste ham halfway through cooking time and again about an hour before ham is done. Once ham is finished, remove to a platter and tent with foil to keep warm.
5. Skim fat and strain crock pot juices into a saucepan and place on the stove over medium heat.
6. In a small bowl, use a fork to stir cornstarch into water to make a slurry.
7. Slowly pour slurry into pot while whisking ham juices. Allow mixture to bubble and thicken for a minute or two, occasionally stirring. If you desire a thicker sauce, you may stir in a bit more cornstarch slurry. Do not add straight cornstarch to the hot liquid or it will clump, and do not over stir the sauce once the cornstarch has been added or it may not thicken appropriately.
8. Serve ham warm with sauce on the side or drizzled on top. If you prefer an oven-cooked ham effect, you may also glaze entire ham with thickened sauce and pop it under the broiler for about five minutes (watch it closely!) before serving.
Sugar Snap Peas with Minty Pesto
6 tbsp. pine nuts
2 cups frozen peas
6 fresh mint leaves
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Grated zest of one lemon
½ cup plus 4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 lbs. sugar snap peas, trimmed and washed
4 tbsp. finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 325F.
2. Place the pine nuts in a small ovenproof skillet and toast in the oven for five minutes, or until light brown. Transfer to a small bowl and allow to cool, then chop one tablespoon of the pine nuts. Set the chopped and whole pine nuts aside.
3. Prepare an ice bath. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
4. Add the frozen peas and cook for one minute, or until tender. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the peas to the ice bath (keep the water boiling). Use the slotted spoon to transfer the peas from the ice bath to a food processor (reserve the ice bath).
5. Add the mint, garlic, lemon zest, the two tablespoons of whole pine nuts, one-quarter cup of olive oil, one-quarter cup of water, and salt and pepper to a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process until well combined but not completely smooth. Adjust the seasonings and set aside.
6. Add the snap peas to the boiling water and cook for one minute. Transfer to the ice bath.
7. Drain and place snap peas into a large bowl with the remaining two tablespoons olive oil, the Parmigiano-Reggiano, and the reserved chopped pine nuts. Season with salt and pepper.
8. Lay out eight plates. Spread one-quarter cup of the minty pea pesto on the center of each plate. Place the snap pea mixture on top. Garnish with additional grated cheese.
Rosemary Roasted Carrots
Serves 6 to 8
2 bunches of small carrots (about 24), peeled
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. minced rosemary
salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. In a large boil, toss carrots with olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper until fully coated.
3. Spread carrots on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until carrots are tender; you should be able to pierce them easily with a fork.