Spring is a lovely time to entertain. You can pull your inspiration from the greening world around you, from the tulips and daffodils popping up everywhere. Everyone is happier because the long winter, no matter how wonderful, tends to weigh on us as the cold weather settles in and then takes its time winding up. People are happier because spring is on the way.
Then one day we wake up and we can feel the difference in the air. Time to go outside, spend some time in the garden, put away the puffy coats, and throw a cheerful, springtime brunch.
Here are a few tips to making your brunch an elegant affair.
The wonderful part about entertaining at Easter is the decorative beauty of the season. Bring in pots of tulips, daffodils, and lilies. Scatter moss and branches and pull out your most cheerful linens. We particularly love our tanager yellow, rosefinch, or blues and greens for spring.
Vintage dishware in pastels or fresh grassy greens makes a wonderful base for your table.
We particularly love the use of eggs in these tablescaping designs from onekindesign.com. The natural, rustic look with eggs in nests is elegant with the newness and freshness of spring.
You can also appeal to the child’s heart in all of us with small Easter treats at each plate like a golden egg in a loosely gathered nest-like presentation. Who didn’t want to find the golden egg at Easter egg hunts?
If it’s warm enough to have an outside brunch, then by all means do so. Just have a back-up plan in case the weather cools. A pile of lovely shawls and throws is a nice touch, or you can be prepared to move the party inside.
Not only are the decorations sensational, but a spring-inspired menu can also be full of the fresh and inviting joys of the season.
Brunches like this tend to have several dishes that people can try. If you choose to go this route, choose carefully. You’ll want to have most of them be simple or make-ahead favorites.
Check out your local farmers markets and base your menu on the fresh produce you find there. A simple lemony avgolemono soup served with chopped dill or fresh mint can be a luscious addition, or you can go full spring with a creamy soup made from some pureed bright green asparagus.
I always like to have the best fruit I can find on the table, side by side with an array of specialty cheeses.
A sourdough strata, like this one from Food Network, is made with plenty of vegetables, always appreciated, and can be made ahead of time. Love the addition of goat cheese!
I have to include this asparagus soup recipe from Once Upon a Chef, which is made with parmesan cheese and can even be frozen.
Asparagus Soup with Lemon and Parmesan
By Jennifer Segal
This asparagus soup tastes rich, yet it’s made without heavy cream — just veggies, broth, and a hint of Parmesan puréed to silky perfection.
2 bunches asparagus (about 2-1/4 pounds), bottom ends trimmed
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, from one lemon
1/2 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano
Handful fresh herbs, such as thyme, dill, or basil (optional, for garnish)
Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Do not brown; reduce the heat if necessary.
In the meantime, cut the tips off of one bunch of the asparagus and set aside (you’ll use those for a garnish). Cut the remaining spears and the other bunch of asparagus into 1/2-inch pieces.
Add the chopped asparagus to the pot (minus the reserved tips), along with the chicken broth, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil, then cover and turn the heat down to low. Simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are very tender.
Meanwhile, bring a small pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the reserved asparagus tips for a few minutes, or until tender-crisp. Drain the tips and then place them in a bowl of ice water to “shock” them — this stops the cooking process and preserves their bright green color. Once the tips are cool, drain and set them aside.
Purée the soup with an immersion blender until completely smooth. (Alternatively, use a standard blender to purée the soup in batches, then return the soup to the pot.) Bring the soup back to a simmer and stir in the lemon juice and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. To thicken the soup, allow it to simmer uncovered until the desired consistency is reached.
Ladle the soup into bowls, then top each bowl with asparagus tips, Parmigiano-Reggiano, herbs (if using), and freshly ground black pepper.
Freezer-Friendly Instructions: You can freeze the soup for up to 3 months. Defrost the soup in the refrigerator for 12 hours and then reheat it on the stovetop over medium heat until hot. (The soup will freeze best if you add the cheese when reheating.)