21 Recipes for a Ham-less, Lamb-less Vegetarian Easter Dinner

No ham, no lamb—and certainly no mint jelly—but lots of veg.

February  9, 2021
Photo by James Ransom

As far as holidays go, Easter is a pretty good one for vegetarians (second only to Thanksgiving, the Championship of Side Dishes). There are pillowy, yeasty breads, a springy push of salads, literal and symbolic eggs galore, potatoes abound, and the ubiquitous tray of asparagus. But beyond that, the focus shifts to the ham or lamb, reigning meaty and supreme as the centerpiece of the buffet.

This year, vegetarian or otherwise, turn the spotlight on the vegetables; for a holiday so oriented around newness and springtime, there's no way we'd rather do it:

Bet you’ve never had dates like these. Heat transforms sweet dates, and they shine when paired with tart, savory labneh or yogurt with a generous drizzle of olive oil, sea salt, and some fresh herbs.

A traditional Italian Easter pie filled greens and creamy ricotta. So rich and delicious, you won’t even notice it’s meatless.

A bright, acidic slaw showcasing the best produce spring has to offer.

A spring herb pesto sings with bright, lemony cream and rich olive-oil grilled bread. The perfect appetizer alongside a veritable feast of spring veggies.

The Persian version of the crudité platter, this platter is amped up in flavor—lots of fresh herbs, crunchy radishes, and briny feta coated in ground spices. Serve with flatbread and dig in.

This hearty vegetarian adaptation of French Cassoulet gets its flavor foundation from luscious globe artichokes sautéed in garlic, lemon zest, thyme and white wine.

Spring’s most popular allium, ramps, are on spotlight in this herby Georgian cheese bread.

Silky-smooth polenta is the ultimate comfort food, especially when paired with crimini mushrooms, thyme, and goat cheese.

This Genius Recipes-approved radish salad is jam-packed with acid and the perfect foil for rich Easter dishes. Serve alongside meaty mains or cheesy, creamy sides.

Smart pantry pulls make this frittata as delicious for weekend brunch as it is easy for a weeknight dinner.

According to this recipe’s author, “the little punch of bitter rind plays nicely against the salty-sweet topping on this airy, crusty focaccia” and call it “totally addictive”. I can’t think of a better bread to have on your Easter table.

Taste this whipped cream and vegetable dish and you will probably wonder how you went this long without trying whipped cream and vegetables together.

Vegans rejoice: this date and nut loaf is dense and sweet and delicious any time of day or night. A perfect bread to accompany any Easter table, sweet or savory.

Another plant-based option, this recipe for bright asparagus risotto is rich and creamy in a way you wouldn’t expect from vegan dishes.

50 percent fluffy focaccia, 50 percent saucy shakshuka, 100 percent delicious. Guaranteed to have vegetarians and omnivores alike asking for seconds.

These gorgeous rolls utilize the sourdough starter you’ve spent the last year cultivating. Think cinnamon rolls but substitute cinnamon with an herby, double-cheese filling so good, it’s a miracle some makes it in the rolls at all.

A green goddess dressing that lives up to its name. Über-green and ready to be dunked in by the spring’s freshest veggies.

Inspired by a salad at the New York restaurant abcV, roasted carrots and avocado play together in perfect harmony, assisted by the best citrus late winter can offer.

Another option for an Easter carrot side dish. Where the last recipe is bright and acidic, this one is rich and full of toasty umami from brown butter and hazelnuts.

Leftover (or fresh) mashed potatoes get a second life in these little crispy-fried, scallion-laden cakes. Top with fried eggs, or serve them as a hearty vegetarian side dish on their own.

While the recipe calls for frozen, these veggie burgers are the perfect vessel to highlight fresh spring peas. Luscious ricotta and crispy mushrooms make these burgers balanced and full of umami, zero meat required.

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What are your favorite veg-focused Easter dishes? Tell us what you'll be serving in the comments.

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1 Comment

Karl W. February 12, 2021
Just because there's been such a loss of connection to human history in the last couple of generations.... Historically, in the centuries of Christian religious practice and tradition, the meatless time was most definitely NOT Easter, but the weeks of Lent preceding it. (And, not necessarily just meatless: the Eastern European and Afro-Asiatic Christian traditions also nixed fish (except on feast days in Lent), dairy, eggs, alcohol and even oil.) Carnivale before Lent was a "farewell to meat" as it were. Dairy (which cows continued to produce) and eggs (which hens continued to produce) would be preserved to enjoy for Easter, especially the first week of the 50 day long Eastertide, along with meat (lamb being much more anciently associated because of the associations with the sacrifice of Jesus on Good Friday).