The first warm days of spring mean Easter and its traditional lunch are just around the corner. In Emilia-Romagna, this holiday is celebrated as it should be with a traditional, delicious and varied array of dishes, which must include the classic duo of lasagna and lamb. Desserts at the end of the meal are refreshingly simple, a typical characteristic of peasant cooking.
Although nowadays this classic baked pasta dish is made all year round and not just for festivities as it used to be, lasagna always makes a timely appearance at Easter lunch. The most famous recipe for lasagna hails from Bologna, which layers pasta sheets, spinach, meat sauce and béchamel sauce one after the other to create a pillowy-soft brick that melts in the mouth with every bite.
Another lesser known Easter-time dish that would be served as a first course is tardura, a special broth from Romagna that goes back a long way and is quick and easy to make. This soup is made by combining eggs, parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs and nutmeg, which is all cooked in meat broth.
Lamb and rabbit
When it comes to the second meat-based course, the choice often falls on the main star of any Easter lunch: lamb. In Romagna, lamb is accompanied with peas and pork belly, or with fennel in a lamb and fennel stew, or with balsamic vinegar when served as lambs liver cooked in vinegar.
Rabbit is also considered a traditional meat to serve at Easter in Emilia-Romagna, owing to the fact it used to be easier to get hold of than lamb. Two great classic dishes that are made using this meat include coniglio alla cacciatora, hunter’s rabbit stew and coniglio in porchetta, a rabbit roulade wrapped in cured ham.
Emilia-Romagna’s Easter bread loaf and sweet panina bread
Last but not least, we come to Easter desserts, Emilia-Romagna’s peasant food at its finest. Traditionally, a special type of sweet Easter bread loaf called pagnotta pasquale would be served on Easter morning in rural areas of Romagna, to be eaten with “blessed”, hard-boiled eggs and local slices of salami.
The other type of Easter bread, panina pasquale, is richer, spicier and more cake-like. Made in the Apennines, this sweet bread combines aniseed liqueur, cognac, orange peel and pieces of lemon.
Lastly, no dessert course would be complete without the classic biscuity ciambella.