Though most denominations of Christians celebrate Easter, the Eastern Orthodox church determines the date of the holy holiday differently, so they don’t always fall on the same day. This year, however, they did. Since I come from a Greek Orthodox family, I prepared a traditional Greek-style feast over the weekend for my family and friends to gather together and enjoy all the rich (and delicious) cultural aspects of a Greek Easter celebration.
We had the traditional roasted lamb and sides, and even some sweet Easter bread. But the main event is the red dyed eggs. Rather than the pastels, bunnies and stickers of American Easter, the Greeks go right for the symbolism of the blood of Christ. There’s a traditional game to play with the eggs, and even cooking them is a very interesting process. Kalo Pascha!
Roasted Lamb: Arni Sto Fourno
Recipe by Michael Psilakis via Delish.com
- 1 whole (6-pound) leg of lamb, on the bone
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 head garlic, each clove peeled and separated from the head
- 1 onion, peeled and cut into 4 pieces
- 1 carrot, peeled and cut in 2 pieces
- 1 fennel, cut in 4 pieces
- 3 potatoes, peeled and cut in wedges
- 4 sprigs rosemary
- 4 sprigs oregano
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 4 sprigs sage
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- ¼ cup water
- Olive oil
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 2 lemons
- Season lamb with salt and pepper. Make slits in meat and push 3 or 4 cloves of garlic into meat. Arrange vegetables, remaining garlic cloves, herbs, and lamb in a roasting pan. Pour wine, water, and lemon juice on bottom of pan. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 325 degrees F for 1 hour 30 minutes, until pulling away from the bone.
- At the last 15 minutes of baking remove aluminum and raise temperature to 450 degrees F. Allow the lamb and vegetables to brown, and dress with olive oil and squeeze the juice of the remaining two lemons onto the finished lamb and vegetables before serving.
Red Eggs: Kokkina Avga
- 6-8 eggs
- 1-3 beets
- 2 tbsp. white vinegar
- 5 cups water
- Bring all the ingredients to a boil except eggs for about 35-40 minutes.
- Strain orange liquid and cool.
- Add the eggs and bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer 12 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let cool in the fridge until the color is blood red.
Chicken Lemon Soup: Avgolemono
- 5 cups chicken broth
- ½ cup uncooked orzo (or rice)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 5 eggs
- 5 tbsp. lemon juice
- Mix the eggs with the lemon juice while whisking quickly.
- Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a saucepan
- Add orzo to the broth until cooked to al dente
- Remove from heat (if the egg mix is added while still boiling, the eggs will become scrambled).
- Slowly add the lemon/egg mix while stirring quickly.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
Greek Salad: Horiatiki
- 3 large tomatoes, chopped
- 1 red onion, sliced
- 1 cucumber, sliced
- 2 green bell peppers, chopped
- 6 oz. feta cheese, sliced
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup of lemon juice
- ¼ cup of fresh chopped parsley
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- Coarse sea salt and ground pepper to taste
- Chop all the ingredients.
- Mix all the veggies with the olive oil, lemon juice, herbs and spices all together.