This is my Italian-American family’s Easter menu, and it’s golden

By | March 30, 2024

Warning: grab a napkin, because this will make your mouth water.

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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 actual egg painting are standout memories of my childhood Easter days.

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

Since I’m an adult now, I’m contributing to this year’s menu. This means I get a taste of what our Easter dinner will be like, although by the time I finish writing this article there will probably be three more dishes added to this lineup because my mom can’t handle them doing. This is what dinner will look like next Sunday.

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

My family’s Easter menu for 2024

Honey ham with fresh pineapple

At Thanksgiving I’m a ham over turkey person, and at Easter I’m a ham over lamb person. My family agrees (at least with the second half), so we expect 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 is 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 the party. Usually Easter calls for ravioli, for no other reason than my mother says so. But this year she’s changing it up by making baked pasta shells filled with ricotta and spinach. Stuffed shells are easy to make for a large audience, because they are already divided into portions for each guest. So it’s an easy dish to plan and serve quickly. Try these spinach and cheese stuffed shells and you’ll understand why they’re so highly rated.

Potato salad

If I had written this article yesterday, this section would have been all about mashed potatoes (like this garlic mashed potato that is so delicious). But word on the street is that Mom is changing her plans and making potato salad – and I’m not complaining! Potato salad is so easy to make ahead of time: you can make it the night before and not have to worry about it again until you serve it the next day. We have tons of delicious potato salad recipes EatingWells website that our family draws inspiration from, like these old-fashioned potato salad recipes that will take 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 may not “fit” into the flow of the menu, but they are undeniably delicious. If you want to spice things up, our Spicy Stir-Fried String Beans have the kick you’re looking for.

Sweet potato ratatouille

My sister Robin brings ratatouille, but with a twist. She swaps out the usual eggplant (no hate on eggplant, we love eggplant) with sweet potatoes, and I’m so excited about it. This vegetarian 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 one Good food recipe: Hot Honey Parmesan Carrots. It’s unheard of for a vegetarian side dish to make your mouth water, so when I saw our senior video producer Matthew Francis prepare these on Instagram, I knew I had to try them out. Plus, aside from the typical salt and oil, they only require five ingredients to make!

Related: 26 Easy Vegetarian Sides in Three Steps or Less

Ricotta rice cake

The ricotta rice cake, an Easter staple in Italian households, will certainly be present in this year’s dessert offering. This fluffy cake combines ricotta cheese and pineapple for a light and fresh bite. My mom is going to make it with sugar substitutes so everyone in my family can enjoy it, but otherwise it’s identical All recipes‘ version.

Ricotta chocolate cookies from Lidia Bastianich

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

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


Saying there won’t be sweets at this kid-free dinner would be the “healthy” thing to do… but it would also be lying. Bee Good foodWe believe you can enjoy any food in moderation within a nutritious diet, and that includes chocolate bunnies, peanut butter eggs, and jelly beans! It’s a special circumstance, so eat what you want this holiday weekend.

Related: 23 dinners for when you ate too much sugar

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