Three recipes for a simpler, smaller Easter dinner menu

A simple Easter dinner for 4 on

Buying potted yellow tulips, playing with bright flavors in the kitchen, and digging out my pair of summer Toms (even if only wearing them indoors) are a few of the motions I must go through during this time of the year to try and feign a feeling of spring.

It’s late March and the snowbanks on either side of our driveway tower over my head like steady ramparts, as if barring spring from ushering in wildflowers and fresh clover. It’s unfathomable to think that we will have a green Easter, although I can recall many an egg hunt in the past enjoyed in the grass, not to mention brunch on the patio. This year will be different and that’s okay.

Since we are barreling toward the Easter long weekend, it’s time to do a little menu planning. Mother Nature may not be on board, but perhaps that won’t matter, as we’ll be to busy tucking in to…this.

A simple Easter dinner for 4 on

I made this menu for a recent Sunday dinner (remember, I’m bringing back the tradition for our family) and while I was setting the table and whisking together the mustard vinaigrette, it struck me that the meal would make a lovely, small scale Easter dinner.

The whole meal came together in just under an hour and featured Sunday dinner classics: roast poultry, young potatoes and fresh asparagus. Each component was simply prepared, but packed a punch of flavor thanks to vibrant pairings with ingredients such as Meyer lemons, capers, mustard and blood oranges.

Perhaps you’ll only be joined by a friend or two for the holiday meal, or celebrating Easter with a few family members around the table. If you are, and don’t wish to spend half a day in the kitchen, then this menu for you.

I would suggest beginning the celebration with a pretty plate of Guacamole Deviled Eggs, and finishing with these Easter Pavlovas with Lemon Whipped Cream and Vanilla-Rhubarb Compote. Of course there’s always Mini Lemon Tea Cakes that are idea, too.

If you’re not hosting on the upcoming holiday, bookmark this post for your next Sunday dinner. Better yet, forward it to your husband and drop a hint about Mother’s Day. Either way, be sure to enjoy these recipes this spring.

Hit the jump for three recipes for a simpler, smaller Easter dinner menu.

Roast Cornish Hens with Blood Oranges

Roasted Cornish Hens with Blood Oranges and Sage

Tender Cornish hens make for an elegant presentation on the dinner plate, plus they roast up much faster than a whole chicken. These ones are marinated in orange juice, garlic and fresh sage for a slightly sticky and utterly scrumptious glaze. Note that the recipe calls for an hour-long marinade for the birds, so be sure to factor that into your schedule.
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Dishes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 489kcal
Author: Aimee


  • 2 fresh Cornish Game hens
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 2 blood oranges
  • 1 small bunch fresh sage
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper


  • Using poultry shears or a sharp knife, cut the backbone out of the hens, starting at the neck and working down toward the tail. Turn the hen skin-side-up and press down on the breast bone to flatten the hen.
  • Thinly slice the garlic, juice one blood orange, and pluck about 10 pieces of fresh sage from their stems. Prepare the marinade in a small bowl by combining sliced garlic, orange juice, sage leaves and olive oil together.
  • Place the hens in a casserole pan or other low shallow pan large enough to fit the two flattened hens. Pour the marinade over, coating the birds on both sides.
  • Slice the remaining blood orange in half-moons, and tuck those around and under the hens.
  • Allow to marinade at room temperature for an hour or up to 6 hours in the refrigerator.
  • Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Season hens with salt and pepper and place in the oven. Roast for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 375F. Cook for another 40 minutes, then check for doneness. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5-15 minutes.
  • Serve in the pan or on a platter. Cut Cornish game hens down the middle and serve a breast and a leg to each guest.


Calories: 489kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 38g | Fat: 35g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 227mg | Sodium: 137mg | Potassium: 553mg | Vitamin A: 260IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 47mg | Iron: 2mg

roast potatoes with lemon-1

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Lemon

Lemons caramelize and sweeten slightly when roasted, and these Meyer lemons pair beautifully with the young potatoes. You can use regular lemons as well, and small potatoes too, but the fluffy Fingerlings and Meyer lemons help to elevate the dish into something truly worthy of the holiday.
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dishes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 193kcal
Author: Aimee


  • 1 1/2 lbs fingerling potatoes or small yellow potatoes
  • 2 small Meyer lemons
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  • Preheat oven to 375F (it may already be on for your hens).
  • Slice Fingerling potatoes in half lengthwise and add to a shallow roasting pan.
  • Slice lemons into eight wedges, remove any seeds, and add to the potatoes.
  • Toss both potatoes and lemons with olive oil and salt, distribute evenly around the pan, and then place the pan in the oven.
  • Roast for about 15 minutes, then check to see if the potatoes are browning evenly. Stir everything around if needed. Cook for about another 15 minutes or until potatoes are crispy on the outside and tender in the center.
  • Remove from oven, taste for seasoning, and serve hot.


Calories: 193kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 301mg | Potassium: 716mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin C: 33.7mg | Calcium: 20mg | Iron: 1.3mg

asparagus with mustard vinaigrette-1

Asparagus with Mustard Vinaigrette & Capers

Tangy mustard, salty capers and a sprinkling of parsley pair perfectly together to liven up an otherwise dull plate of asparagus. Both vinaigrette and cooked asparagus can be made up to a day in advance and gently reheated just before serving.
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dishes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 93kcal
Author: Aimee


  • 2 bunches asparagus bottom third of the stems removed
  • 1 Tablespoon capers drained
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper


  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and drop the asparagus in to blanch. Cook for about 4-8 minutes depending on their thickness. They should be tender when pierced with a fork, but still retain their bright colour.
  • Using a slotted spoon or tongs, remove asparagus and allow to cool in one layer on a tray or baking sheet. (I don't immerse in cold water as I value flavor over color.)
  • Finely chop capers and parsley, then add them to a small bowl. Add in vinegar, Dijon, olive oil and seasonings and mix to combine. Your vinaigrette is ready to go.

To serve:

  • Arrange asparagus on a serving platter and drizzle the mustard vinaigrette over the top. Serve at once, with extra vinaigrette on the side.


Calories: 93kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 244mg | Potassium: 310mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1245IU | Vitamin C: 10.1mg | Calcium: 38mg | Iron: 3.3mg

Are you hosting at all over the Easter long weekend? What’s on your menu?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. Oh yum! This looks simply perfect!

  2. I must admit… I need ham for it to be Easter LOL, without it… it’s just not Easter! I’ll take you up on all those delicious appetizer, sides, and dessert though!

  3. We don’t host Easter, but we also will not be traveling back home to celebrate with our parents, so I’m thinking this seems like the perfect meal to make. I too enjoy a good Sunday dinner.

  4. Oh girl, those hens look amazing!

  5. We are having a small Easter this year. I guess I should get planning our menu! Thanks for the reminder!

  6. Ooo, I am loving all of these Aimee! Perfect and light!

  7. With a small kitchen I am all for keeping meals for special occasions as quick and easy as possible without sacrificing flavour and this definitely fits the bill!

  8. Can I come over to your house for Easter??!!

  9. We are having a smaller Easter too and the hens are a great idea.

  10. This is a really elegant and lovely dinner. I would be thrilled to sit down to this!

  11. what a great post for those still trying to figure out Easter lunch! i love the simplicity yet great flavors!

  12. Since we are attending a wedding Easter weekend I moved our celebration up a few weeks. I scaled way back this year and loved the simplicity and relaxation of the weekend! I made a simple breakfast (strata & fruit) and then off to the Kite Festival for a picnic with my family. You can see it here:

  13. Aimee,
    Your photos are stunning and the Sunday dinner sounds wonderful.

    It’s crazy, but we’re going out for Easter this year. My folks are visiting, staying down the road, and they have invited us to the dining room of their hotel. So we’ll enjoy some new foods and company for Easter!


  14. 5 stars
    I’m not hosting this year (in fact, I’ll be working all day) so this is the perfect meal to pull together quickly and still feel like I’m welcoming spring. Love it!

  15. Ahhh.. wish I could get my inlaws to get on board for this! 🙂

  16. It looks delicious, Aimee! I’m pinning it to make as a Sunday dinner, thank you! Easter weekend will probably be spent snowmobiling into my parents place (they live waaaay ‘in the bush’ where roads are not accessible by car during winter months). Snowmobiling is fun, but can’t wait for the snow to melt over here too. 🙂

  17. Mmm, this is a perfect menu. Everything looks so beautiful!

  18. Such a lovely Easter dinner with beautiful spring flavors! Love it!

  19. Those hens are just gorgeous!

  20. Do you reheat the asparagus at all before serving or are they still warm enough from cooking? Thank you!!

  21. This is going on the menu for our Fourth of July! Great recipe, thanks!

  22. Looks like a great dinner recipe and not just for Easter. Will definitely try it soon and report back.
    Weekly Mean Planner.

  23. We usually have Cornish hens. I discovered them two years ago. Cornish hens, red skin potatoes with butter, parsley, asparagus with lemon and butter and a tossed salad. For dessert lemon cake.

    Easy fixin*s and family asked for it again. ???

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