A dairy-free Easter celebration doesn't have to suck a Cadbury Creme egg! With a few smart substitutions and easy supermarket swaps, you can put out a spread that will have ALL your guests going in for a second helping. Hippity-hop this way for drool-worthy, dairy-free brunch inspiration.
Easter is hands-down my favorite holiday. There's no anxiety about the onslaught of the winter holiday season, no gift-giving, and if we're lucky, no snow. My mom has been preparing the same meal for at least a decade - Bobby Flay's ancho-chile pork tenderloin with an orange sauce that makes everything better (my stepbrother tested it on Peeps - it's THAT addictive), garlic-smashed roasted potatoes, goat cheese and pear salad, and white peach sangria. I can't wait for Sunday!
Last year's Easter was different. I couldn't make it to my mom's and I was on a dairy elimination diet. My daughter, exclusively breastfed at the time, was suspected of having a dairy allergy, and an elimination of dairy from my diet alleviated the unappetizing, stool-related symptoms. If you've read any of my previous posts you know that I'm a dairy FIEND, so this was especially tough for me. There's so much more to a dairy elimination than simply avoiding milk and cheese - check out the full list of ingredients that need to be avoided. Needless to say I'm grateful my little one outgrew her dairy allergy. But what I learned during this six month period is that, for the 4.5 million people who live dairy-free, it is entirely possible to enjoy your food, and enjoy your life - even at Easter.
SAVORY EGG DISHES
Quiche is an Easter brunch mainstay. Whether crustless, filled with ham, or portioned out in muffin tins, a quiche is not a quiche without cheese, making it a no-no on the dairy-free brunch table. The solution? Opt for another egg-based favorite - Spanish tortilla (tortilla de patatas). Eggs and potato are the main ingredients, but this omelet-style dish welcomes a variety of add-ins. Spanish onion and chorizo are my favorite tortilla enhancers. Roasted vegetables work well, too.
Preparing a proper tortilla traditionally involves copious amounts of olive oil - a healthy monounsaturated fat. However there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. This recipe calls for steaming the potatoes prior to adding them to the tortilla. I've also had good luck with baking the potato slices for a lighter tortilla.
Carrot cake, cheese cake, and the approximately nine million variations that combine the two are common Easter desserts. Fruit-topped French toast and crepes are delightful, but often involve butter, and bundt cakes are now commonly made with yogurt. Eeeeek! What's a dairy-free guest to do?
Full disclosure: Blueberry Crumb Cake doesn't exactly qualify as "health food." What it DOES qualify as is 110% delicious - a tough feat when trying to pull off a recipe that calls for real butter. The secret? Earth Balance Vegan Buttery sticks. Replace the whole milk with almond or cashew mylk, and prepare for a chorus of "oohs" and "aahs" at the table.
If something less time-intensive is what you're after, tart and tangy lemon bars fit right in at a dairy-free Easter brunch. What says spring louder than lemon? Find my favorite recipes for lightened-up lemon bars here and here.
It's never a bad idea to have a salad on your Easter brunch table. Cheese and dairy-based dressings are out, but that doesn't mean you can't offer a hint of creaminess! Try massaging my Tahini and Lemon dressing into lacinato kale. Toss with cubed avocado and roasted asparagus for an all-green salad that's easy on the eyes!
Leave it to the domestic queen herself to drop major dairy-free inspiration with this dish, featuring a well-loved Easter favorite: fennel. Check out Martha Stewart's recipe for Fennel and Smoked Salmon Salad - on the table in ten minutes. It's an easy, healthful addition to your brunch table.
Easter isn't Easter without Jelly Bellys. They're festive AND dairy free.
Whether you're following a dairy-free meal plan or not, enjoy your food, enjoy your life! Happy Easter!