Easter Brunch Menu- Buona Pasqua!

Sundays are always sacred for me and my family. Usually it includes a quiet morning reading the NY Times and local Atlanta newspaper, a tall cup of tea and a delicious slow........breakfast. By mid-afternoon, we are just finishing up the morning.

This Sunday will be evermore sacred and special as we gather a few friends for Easter Brunch.
If the weather is warm, we will grill al fresco on our new Grande Tuscan Grill.
Lamb is traditional for easter, but I am going to keep it simple, inexpensive {and easy!} this year without comprising the festiveness of the feast.

My menu starts with a deliciously refreshing cocktail.
Limoncello Campari Coolers welcome my guests in the garden. It is a festive way to start the day and everyone loves to have a pretty drink in hand as they meander outside and see what's growing in the raised bed garden.

1/4 cup limoncello
1/2 cup Campari
1/2 cup Vodka
2 cups sparkling soda water
1 orange {blood oranges are best, if in season}
mint sprigs

In a large pitcher, combine the limoncello, Campari and vodka. Stir until combined. Add the orange slices. I like to let this sit at least 30 minutes before serving so the cocktail can absorb some of the orange flavor.
When ready to serve, prepare 4 tall, chilled glasses filled with crushed ice. Fill glass half-way with the limoncello Campari mixture. Top with chilled sparkling soda water. Garnish with a slice of orange and sprig of mint.

I like to have a few simple bites on hand to awaken the appetite, but nothing complicated or filling, as we want to be able to linger over a few more dishes at the table without being too full.
Baked Citrus Fennel Olives with Sheep's Milk Feta is one of my easy favorites. I love to serve it with a few slices of La Quercia Proscuitto and slices of sliced and grilled bread. Drizzle on some of the flavored oil from the olives and you have a simple feast to get the party going.

When I think of Sunday brunch, I always think of Bloody Mary's.
My version is a riff of the traditional favorite made with an Italian flair. It's a slow-sipping concoction that goes a long way on an early afternoon.
Slightly Spicy Tomato Toddies combine freshly pressed organic Passata with peperoncino for a dash of spice, but not too hot. I rim the glasses with a Wild Oregano & Sage savory salt. It's lip licking good and adds a nice herbal color and taste to the drink. Garnish with wedges of cool and crisp cucumber.

1 cup of vodka
3 cups of Passata
1/4 fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp. wasabi paste {or to taste}
1 Tablespoon Wild Oregano & Sage Savory salt {you can substitute with kosher salt and/or add dried herbs}.
English Cucumber wedges

In a large pitcher, add the vodka, Passata and lemon. Stir until combined. Whisk in the wasabi and stir until smooth.
Wet 1/8 inch of the rim of the chilled glasses in a bowl of water. Dip the rim into the salt {put the salt onto a place or in a bowl so it can coat the glass evenly.} Fill the glass with ice cubes. Pour in the Passata mixture and garnish with a wedge of cucumber.

The grill is hot and brunch is ready to fire.
Keeping it simple is my mantra these days. And simple doesn't have to mean simplistic. No skimping on flavor here, just finding an easy way to entertain so my guests can enjoy the food and I can enjoy my guests. I like the idea of little prep and let the grill do the cooking.

Walnut Sage stuffed Pork tenderloin grilled over apple wood and topped with Caramelized Onion & Golden Raisin should satisfy anyone's picky palette.
It's fast, easy and can be put together before your guests arrive.
Serve a big bowl of fresh farmer's market arugula, a bottle of good extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lemon to complete the plate.

1 Pork Tenderloin 3-5#
1 cup Walnut Sage Pesto {one 6 oz. jar}
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup Caramelized Onion & Golden Raisin Antipasti {one 6 oz. jar}

With a sharp boning knife, cut the pork loin in a spiral fashion along the side. Unroll the meat as you work your way to the
Pound the meat evenly to make it thinner, so it is ready to stuff and roll-up.

Spoon the Walnut pesto evenly over the inside of the loin. Take the short end of the loin and begin rolling it up towards the center until the loin is tight. Tie up in several places with butcher string so the roll is tightly secured.
Refrigerate until ready to use {This can be prepared the night before}.

Prepare the grill for cooking and, if you have prepared the pork ahead of time, remove the loin from the refrigerator. In a small bowl, add the garlic and balsamic vinegar. Whisk in the olive oil. Brush or rub the loin with oil and balsamic mixture on all sides to coat. Season the loin on all sides with salt and pepper.

Cook over the grill until all sides are seared and the internal temperature should read 165°F. Let sit for five minutes before cutting. Cut into 1/2 inch slices and place on a large platter or plate. Spoon on the caramelized onion and golden raisin condiment.

Serves 4-6 .

I am not a baker, so for dessert, I keep it simple. Meyer Lemon spread with pre-baked pastry tartlets and fresh blueberries is my choice. If you are feeling ambitious, you can whip up a Preserved Lemon poundcake. Toss the Meyer Lemon Spread with freshly whipped cream and top with fresh berries.

I hope you share this special day with friends and family, or enjoy a quiet day at home.
Whatever you decide, I wish you a very Buona Pasqua!

Buon appetito!
copyright 2009 Alisa Barry

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