10 Easter recipes from around Europe
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With Easter fast approaching (seriously, where has the time gone?) you may be thinking about this year’s Easter menu. While roasted lamb and hot cross buns are your typical Easter delicacies in Britain, why not spice things up this year and discover what traditional Easter fare looks like in other countries? From Poland to Greece to Spain, have a go at some of our favourite Easter recipes from around Europe.
Mazurek królewski is a sweet treat enjoyed during Easter in Poland. This flat pastry is made with either yeast or non-yeast doughs and topped with almond paste and apricot, cherry or raspberry preserves, dried fruit, nuts and meringue. As this pastry is so tasty and easy to make, it’s often consumed year-round. This recipe by Barbara Rolek shows you how to make a delicious apricot and raspberry mazurek królewski.
Easter is one of the most important celebrations in Italy, with processions, firework displays and open-air events held across the country. This festivity extends to the food that is eaten. One of the most popular foods is Colomba di Pasqua, or Easter Dove Bread. It’s Easter’s answer to the typical Christmas panettone, made with sourdough fermentation methods to create a light, soft dough. The dough is shaped into a dove to symbolise peace and the Holy Spirit. Flavoured with candied orange peel and dried fruit, and topped with sugar and almond, this recipe for Colomba di Pasqua by Christina’s Cucina is a winner.
Another fantastic Italian recipe is Italian wedding soup, or minestra maritata or minestra di Pasqua. This is a soup made with green vegetables, pork, beef and Italian sausages. It can also contain pasta, lentils, carrots and grated parmesan cheese. Often served at Easter, the term wedding soup is actually a reference to the flavour produced by the marriage between the vegetables and the meat. It’s a great side dish to complement lamb. This recipe by Once Upon A Chef uses tender meatballs, vegetables and pasta.
Pashka is a Russian dessert made from cheese curds and has the consistency of a cheesecake. It’s usually always white in colour, symbolising the purity of Christ, and comes in the form of a four-sided pyramid which represents Calvary and the tomb. Pashka is decorated with the letters ‘XB’ which stands for Khristos Voskres (‘Christ is risen’). The dessert is usually served in an Easter basket of treats and decorated with candied fruits, nuts or flowers. This recipe by Peter’s Food Adventures shows you how to make pashka the traditional way. If you prefer a more fruity pashka, try this recipe by Maggie Beer.
A Lithuanian Easter dinner will typically include cepelinai. These are dumplings made from grated and riced potatoes, stuffed with ground meat, dry curd cheese or mushrooms. They’re also nicknamed zeppelins as they’re the same shape as the airships. After the dumplings are boiled, they’re often served with sour cream sauce and either bacon or pork rinds. This recipe by Miriam Nice uses pork mince as the stuffing for the cepelinai, served with bacon and mushroom sauce.
Another Lithuanian Easter delicacy is kugelis. Potatoes are a big part of the Lithuanian diet, and this savoury potato pudding is a very traditional side dish. Potatoes, bacon, milk, onions and eggs are seasoned with salt and pepper, and sometimes with herbs like bay leaves and marjoram. The dish is then oven-baked and served with sour cream or pork rind with diced onions. We particularly like this recipe by Sydney Oland.
Although the Greek Orthodox Easter falls on a different day than the Catholic Easter holiday, that doesn’t mean that there are no Easter treats. In fact, you’ll find all kinds of delicious delicacies on a Greek household table. One thing you’ll always find is tsoureki, a sweet bread made with flour, milk, butter and sugar, and spiced with orange zest, mastic and mahlab (a powder made from the stones of St Lucy’s cherry which is found in different parts of the Mediterranean). The bread is soft and fluffy with a semi-soft crust and a beautiful stringy texture. This recipe by My Greek Dish shows you how to make authentic tsoureki.
Reindling is a traditional pound cake from Austria, a speciality from Carinthia, a southern Austrian region in the eastern Alps. The dish has a unique sweet-savoury flavour, and doesn’t necessarily have to be served sweet. It tastes delicious when served with butter and jam, but also works well with the traditional Carinthian Easter meal of ham, smoked sausages and eggs. Many families have their own secret ingredients when making reindling, whether it’s cocoa powder or a dash of rum. This recipe by Strudel and Schnitzel shows you how to make it with cinnamon and raisins.
During Semana Santa or Holy Week, Spain’s food scene comes alive with sweet treats. One of the most popular is torrijas, a typical example of Easter indulgence. This is a Spanish variation of a cross between French toast and bread pudding. Slices of day-old, slightly stale bread are soaked in milk, sugar and spices overnight before being dipped in egg and fried in olive oil. There are several variations of this crispy, golden-brown treat, with some soaked in syrup, wine or honey. Sprinkle it with sugar and cinnamon and you have easily one of the most popular Easter treats. This recipe by Miriam Garcia shows you how to make the perfect torrijas.
Flaouna is a popular pastry from Cyprus traditionally eaten at Easter by Orthodox Cypriots and during Ramadan by Muslim Turkish Cypriots. These pastries are made with an aromatic yeasted phyllo dough, filled with a Cypriot cheese called pafitiko, and flavoured with mastic resin, mahlab and mint. They can also be filled with raisins and garnished with sesame seeds. If you can’t find pafitiko, you can use halloumi or pecorino instead. This recipe by My Greek Dish uses fresh mint, raisins and flaounas cheese.