An Actually Good Easter Dinner Using Every Cliché in the Book

Alex Van Buren
Food Features Editor

Photo credit: StockFood. Illustration credit: Jennifer Fox

Sure, you could eat ham for Easter dinner. But you know, while incredibly delicious, it’s pretty played out. There’s something to be said for inverting traditions and going way past the pole of what’s expected—while elevating a cliché into something completely new.

Which is why—bear with us—we’re suggesting you serve the Easter bunny this year. Those ubiquitous eggs? Spin them into a dish you’ve only seen on restaurant menus. You’ll have taken Easter’s trappings and turned them into a basket of delightful surprises. And there’s still room for pastels and Peeps on the table (as there should be!). 

We reached out to Chef Anita Lo at New York City restaurant Annisa, for her enormously popular recipe (developed with chef de cuisine Mary Attea) of rabbit stuffed with grape leaves and pistachio. Also on the menu is a springy chawan mushi, a traditional Japanese egg custard.

It’s a bit of effort, but it’s worth it. “Rabbit is very in right now,” says Lo. “It’s sustainable, easy to raise, delicious, and not gamey.” This particular preparation boasts a symphony of different flavors and textures, from the acid of grape leaf and lemon zest (which Lo particularly loves) to the crunch of pistachios and the delicate floral notes of mint. 

Chawan mushi can be prepped in advance and has that lovely pale yellow color we associate with Easter. Topped with crab salad and emerald spring peas, and aromatic with shiso leaf, it almost eliminates the need for salad. (We’d still serve some seared or grilled asparagus).

Pair the whole meal with sake, a dry Riesling, or a lemony punch topped with frothed egg whites and Champagne, lending your meal a festive air—whether or not the Easter Bunny joins you for it. 

Photo credit: StockFood/Nicolas Leser

Rabbit Stuffed with Grape Leaves and Pistachio, with Yogurt, Mint, and Sunchokes
By Anita Lo and Mary Attea
Serves 6

1 small onion, finely diced
Olive oil
1 cup pistachio, finely chopped
Salt and pepper 
3 bone-out rabbit saddles 
3 to 5 sunchokes, cut into 24 1 inch-thick slices
3 Tbsp pomegranate seeds
3 Tbsp mint, sliced very thinly
Yogurt sauce:
1 cup whole Greek yogurt
Zest of 1 lemon, microplaned
1 clove garlic, mashed to a paste, or to taste
Lemon juice, to taste
Salt and pepper

Red wine sauce (Optional):
1/2 cup Port wine
1 cup red wine 
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
6 cups veal stock
Salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Sweat the onion in olive oil until it is translucent and very soft, but hasn’t taken on any color. Mix with the chopped pistachios and season to taste with salt and pepper. Lay rabbit loin flat. Cover the flaps of the rabbit saddles (the interior) with the grape leaves and place 3-4 Tbsp of the pistachio mixture at the top of the saddle. Starting at the top, roll the flaps over the loins, and tie using butcher’s twine to form roulades.  

3. Mix the yogurt with the lemon zest and season to taste with the garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

4. Make red wine sauce: Simmer Port, red wine and shallot in pot over medium heat, and reduce until it becomes a syrupy, glossy glaze. Reduce by ¾ volume. Strain out shallots. When done, add veal stock, bring to boil, skim off foam, and simmer until slightly reduced. Should be about 3/4 cup. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

5. Season the roulades with salt and pepper.  Heat oven-safe skillet on high, add oil and add roulades when oil is just smoking. (Space roulades evenly in pan.) Cook for 1-2 minutes on high heat, then place in a 450 degree oven. Meanwhile, in a separate pan, do the same with sunchoke discs. Turn the rabbit and sunchokes when browned, about 2-3 minutes after adding to the oven. Continue process, browning on all sides, and remove. Allow the roulades to rest, about five minutes. Set aside sunchokes.

6. Place a dollop of the yogurt mixture on the plate, drizzle plate with red wine sauce, cut rabbit into discs, and place on top of sauce.  Garnish each plate with sunchoke chips, mint and pomegranate seeds.  

Photo credit: Getty Images

Chilled Crab and Spring Pea Chawan Mushi
Serves 4 as an appetizer

1 cup dashi
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsp soy sauce, or to taste
1 1/2 Tbsp mirin, or to taste
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup spring peas
2 leaves shiso, cut into small squares
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
6 oz jumbo lump crabmeat
lemon juice to taste
1 pinch lemon zest
Salt and pepper
1 Tbsp scallion, green parts only, julienned
1. To make the chawan mushi, mix the dashi and egg together and season to taste with the soy, mirin, salt, and pepper.  Divide into 4 ramekins, cover with plastic wrap and steam (either on a rack in a wok or set on tinfoil, elevated over boiling water). Cover. Steam until just set, about 12 minutes.  Remove and chill in refrigerator, at least 20 minutes.

2. To make the spring pea salad, mix the spring peas, shiso, and oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Divide onto the 4 chilled chawan mushi.  

3. To make the crab salad, mix the crab, lemon, lemon zest and salt and pepper, to taste. Top the corn salad with the crab. Garnish each chawan mushi with a pinch of scallion, and serve chilled.