(10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare)
By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate
Though the meaning behind the holiday itself is serious, the trappings, such as Easter bonnets, baskets and painted eggs, are all about fun and flair. Easter brunch, of course, is often no different.
Even when tight budgets are followed, ho-hum dishes won't find a place at the table. But if you've been the designated cook year after year, sometimes it's difficult to come up with one home run after another.
Look no further than a convenient pre-mixed product in your supermarket's produce aisle. Though you can get it in a pre-packed bag, "spring mix" (mesclun or field greens, as it's often called) is that delightful blend of greens, fresh herbs and sometimes edible flowers that's often available for you to grab right from the loose fresh-greens section. Usually, it's more economical to scoop your own fresh mix like that rather than pay the "middle man" manufacturer with overhead that packages it and sells it refrigerated.
Though available in some forms all year long, spring mix is best in spring with the baby lettuces and herbs of the season. It also most matches the light and fragrant recipes of the Easter season.
Some of the popular greens found in mixes are arugula, frisée, radicchio, mache, sorrel, oak leaf and endive. Excellent herbs to add include tarragon, chervil and parsley.
Once you've got your mix in your Easter shopping basket, consider delving beyond the usual delicious salad. Greens in general (such as arugula or spinach) and especially spring mix are outstanding (and a surprise touch) in lots of cooked dishes.
Generally added at the end for a slight wilt, they make a highly memorable impression in recipes, such as the following pear, Gorgonzola and spring-mix omelet or toasted ciabatta with shrimp and spring mix. Dishes like these are a favorite in the home of Food Network series star and best-selling cookbook author Giada De Laurentiis with everyone from her young daughter to her grandparents.
Meals like these prove innovative food preparation can be easy, nutritious, economical, entertaining - and fast. They take just 10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare
. The combinations are delicious evidence that everyone has time for tasty home cooking and, more importantly, the healthy family togetherness that goes along with it! Another benefit: You - and your kidlet helpers - effortlessly become better cooks, since there are no right or wrong amounts
. These are virtually-can't-go-wrong Easter ideas, so whatever you choose to use can't help but draw "wows." Spring Mix Ciabatta Easter Appetizer:
Rub small, thin slices of ciabatta bread or other Italian bread with garlic cloves and toast until golden brown. Marinate cooked baby shrimp in olive oil and freshly ground black pepper (shrimp are highly economical and can even be bought canned; drain and rinse before using). Remove shrimp from marinade and place on bread. Top with the drained shrimp, and thinly sliced shallots and diced tomatoes that have been slightly warmed in an oiled skillet. For last few seconds, slightly warm (wilt) spring mix in the skillet and add to bread toppings. Spring Mix Easter Brunch Omelet:
Marinate diced pear in olive oil and lemon pepper seasoning. Drain well and use as an omelet filling with Gorgonzola or blue cheese of choice. A few seconds before omelet is done, add spring mix as the final filling (just so it slightly warms and wilts) and fold omelet closed. "Ivy"-Filled Easter Lamb Towers:
On serving plates, between each layer
of towers of five medium slices of juicy, cooked, hot lamb insert a mixture you've prepared of spring mix, dried cherries or dried cranberries, diced cooked asparagus or green beans, diced red onions, minced garlic, small amount of store-bought raspberry vinaigrette, and freshly ground black pepper. Spring-in-Your-Step Fresh Easter Dessert:
Sprinkle dessert plates with a base of spring mix. Top with a scoop of mixed fruit salad, a scoop of store-bought or homemade rice pudding, ground cinnamon and sweetened flaked coconut.QUICK TIP OF THE WEEK:
Some diners routinely discard the hot mustard that often comes with their Chinese restaurant or takeout meals. However, they might change their tunes if they follow the research of Dr. Jaya Henry of England's Oxford Polytechnic Institute. Dr. Henry found that 1 teaspoon of very spicy mustard may be a weight loss tool as it may speed up the body's metabolism by almost 25 percent. It's similar to the metabolic boost one gets from the caffeine in coffee.
Lisa Messinger is a first-place winner in food and nutrition writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the National Council Against Health Fraud and author of seven food books, including the best-selling The Tofu Book: The New American Cuisine with 150 Recipes (Avery/Penguin Putnam) and Turn Your Supermarket into a Health Food Store: The Brand-Name Guide to Shopping for a Better Diet (Pharos/Scripps Howard). She writes two nationally syndicated food and nutrition columns for Creators Syndicate and had been a longtime newspaper food and health section managing editor, as well as managing editor of Gayot/Gault Millau dining review company. Lisa traveled the globe writing about top chefs for Pulitzer Prize-winning Copley News Service and has written about health and nutrition for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Reader's Digest, Woman's World and Prevention Magazine Health Books. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.