This Is My Italian American Family's Easter Menu, and It's Golden

Warning: Grab a napkin, because your mouth is going to water.



Growing up in an Italian American household, Easter was the second most prominent holiday, the first being Christmas Eve. The typical traditions of candy-filled baskets, plastic egg hunts and real egg dyeing are standout memories from my childhood Easters.

But when it comes to any Italian affair, the highlight is the food, and Easter always spotlights some of my personal favorites. While we stick to the same staples on most other holidays, there is always a rotation of dishes when it comes to Easter Sunday dinner. The surprises are always so fun and guaranteed to be delicious.

Since I am now an adult, I’m contributing to this year’s menu. This means I get to share a glimpse into what our Easter dinner spread will look like—although there will probably be three more dishes added to this lineup by the time I’m done writing this article because my mom can’t help herself. Here’s what dinner this Sunday is going to look like.

Related: Our 42 Favorite Easter Brunch Recipes to Celebrate at Home

My Family's 2024 Easter Menu

Honey Ham with Fresh Pineapple

On Thanksgiving, I’m a ham over turkey person, and on Easter, I’m a ham over lamb person. My family agrees (at least with the latter half) so we’re expecting a honey-baked ham to be the centerpiece of the dinner table. In my opinion, you can’t have ham without pineapple, so the side of fresh pineapple rings will be within reach. Ham is one of my favorite things to eat for leftovers, so I’m looking forward to making some of these healthy leftover ham recipes next week.

Stuffed Shells with Spinach

There is always pasta, no matter what the celebration. Usually, Easter calls for ravioli—for no reason other than my mom says so. But she’s changing it up this year by making baked pasta shells stuffed with ricotta cheese and spinach. Stuffed shells are simple to make for a crowd as they’re already divided into servings for each guest, so it’s an easy dish to plan and quick to serve. Try these Spinach & Cheese Stuffed Shells and you’ll understand why they’re so highly rated.

Potato Salad

If I wrote this article yesterday, this section would have been all about mashed potatoes (like these Garlic Mashed Potatoes that are so, so yummy). But word on the street is that Mom is changing her plans and making potato salad—and I’m not complaining! Potato salad is such an easy side to make ahead of time—you can make it the night before and not worry about it until serving it up the next day. We have tons of delicious potato salad recipes on EatingWell’s website that our family takes inspiration from, like these old-fashioned potato salad recipes that will transport you back home.

Related: Giada De Laurentiis Just Shared Her 15-Minute Sicilian Potato Salad—And We Can't Wait to Make It

Soy-Sesame Green Beans

For every holiday, my uncle brings his soy- and sesame-glazed green beans, adding an umami bite to our plates. They might not “fit in” to the flow of the menu, but they’re undeniably tasty. If you want to amp up the heat, our Spicy Stir-Fried String Beans have the kick you’re looking for.

Sweet Potato Ratatouille

My sister Robin is bringing ratatouille—but with a twist. She’s switching out the usual eggplant (no hate on eggplant, we love eggplant) with sweet potatoes, and I’m so excited about it. This veggie-packed side is the fiber boost the table needs. You can easily replicate this idea by making the sweet-potato-for-eggplant swap with recipes like our French Ratatouille, Sheet-Pan Ratatouille or Ratatouille Dip.

Hot Honey Parmesan Carrots

I practice what I preach, so my contribution to the table is an EatingWell recipe: Hot Honey Parmesan Carrots. For a veggie side dish to make my mouth water is unheard of, so when I saw our senior video producer Matthew Francis whipping these up on Instagram, I knew I had to try them out. Plus, outside of the typical salt and oil, they only need five ingredients to make!

Related: 26 Easy Veggie Sides in Three Steps or Less

Ricotta Rice Pie

An Easter staple in Italian households, the ricotta rice pie will definitely be present for this year’s dessert lineup. This fluffy pie ties in ricotta cheese and pineapple for a light and fresh bite. My mom will be making it with sugar substitutes so everyone in my family can enjoy it, but otherwise, it’s identical to Allrecipes’ version.

Lidia Bastianich’s Ricotta Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ricotta cookies are an absolute must for Christmas cookies, but my mom and I have been looking for an excuse to try Lidia Bastianich’s one-ingredient upgrade on the sweet. We gave her Ricotta Chocolate Chip Cookies a try last weekend (the recipe uses the base of Bastianich’s Ricotta Cookies and folds in mini chocolate chips), and they were incredible. No icing or topping was needed, making them perfect for an Easter dessert option. I can’t wait to unapologetically eat up these cookies two weekends in a row.

Related: My Italian American Mom Makes Hundreds of Holiday Cookies Every Year—These Are My Favorites


Saying that there will be no candy at this child-free dinner would be the “healthy” way … but it would also be lying. At EatingWell, we believe that any food can be enjoyed in moderation within a nutritious eating pattern, and that includes chocolate bunnies, peanut butter eggs and jelly beans! It’s a special circumstance, so eat what you love this holiday weekend.

Related: 23 Dinners For When You've Eaten Too Much Sugar

Read the original article on Eating Well.