Traditional Easter Recipes from Spain, Italy, Greece and Poland
Easter is one of the holiest times of the year in the Christian faith and the observance has huge religious significance. It is the celebration of the resurrection of Christ after his death on Good Friday and is marked globally with many different traditions. It is a special time of year when families get together to enjoy quality time; this is often centred around the preparation and enjoyment of good food and, as such, there are many delicious traditional Easter recipes.
There are dishes that are specifically significant to Easter; here in South Africa for example, pickled fish is a Good Friday tradition and of course, what would Easter be without Hot Cross Buns?
We looked a little further afield though to see what dishes form part of Easter celebrations on the continent – here are just a few of our favourites created by Chef Rudi Liebenberg and his team at the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel.
Traditional Easter Recipes
Italy – Gubana Bread
Possibly one of the biggest celebrations in Italy’s calendar – Easter is a very important day. In Rome, the pope will host a massive Easter day service at the Vatican. Since Easter is the end of the Lent season, food plays a big part in the celebrations. Traditional Easter recipes in many places include lamb or goat, artichokes, and special Easter breads that vary from region to region. One such special one is Gubana bread – the ideal treat after a long Lent. A Gubana is like a sweet bread, almost like a brioche, which is stuffed with a mix of dried fruit, nuts and chocolate.
Start your Easter off inspired by the Italians. Prepare a fresh Gubana bread and enjoy with caffè of your choice.
Spain – Hornazo Bread
Easter week, known in Spain as Semana Santa, is without a doubt, one of the most important celebrations in the Spanish calendar. The festivities begin with Palm Sunday and end with Lunes de Pascua (Easter Monday). The Catholic Church in Spain is passionate about Easter celebrations and the observance is basically a celebration of life itself throughout the country. As with most Catholic countries, a feast is held to signify the end of Lent. In Spain, they make Hornazo, which is a bread stuffed with meat such as chorizo and hard-boiled eggs.
There is an urban legend that during Lent, the prostitutes of the town were sent to the other side of the Tormes River, so as not to distract the men of the town during the religious observances. On the Monday of the Waters, the town threw a party on the banks of the river to celebrate the return of the women, and ate hornazo as part of the celebration. It is also believed that because eggs were considered a protein that could not be eaten during the Lent period, they were boiled to preserve them and then used in dishes such as this. Whatever its history and however it came about, it certainly is delicious.
For a lunch option for your Easter table, make this delicious, enriched bread with egg, chorizo and bacon.
Greece – Greek Lamb with Rosemary
Just to keep you on your toes, Greek Orthodox Easter is generally completely separate from Christian Easter. As Christian Easter follows the Gregorian calendar, while the Greek Orthodox Easter follows the Julian calendar. Normally the two dates are roughly a week apart, but every so often they will align and be celebrated on the same day. If you thought you were serious about eating lamb at Easter, you haven’t seen how the Greeks do lamb.
Eating lamb for Easter is traditional for Greeks because of the significance of lamb in the Old Testament, as well as Jesus being dubbed the lamb of God. Because of this, there is always going to be roast lamb at a Greek Easter.
For your Easter lunch or dinner be inspired by the Greek and do justice to this beautiful cut of meat with this delicious recipe.
Get this Greek Style Roast Leg of Lamb Recipe
Poland – Mazurek Tart
Easter in Poland is celebrated according to the Western Roman Catholic calendar and falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon of spring. Rites and practices are therefore marked by Christianity, but still remain strongly influenced by pagan traditions. Because of this, lots of Polish people may fast for Lent, giving up sugar, sweets, butter, eggs and meat, to name a few.
When Easter does come around, there is no shortage of food to feast on. Most traditionally though, is the Mazurek tart. This tart/cake originated as a reward for people’s abstinence of food because it is filled with all the treats they weren’t allowed. It’s usually a layer of pastry, marmalade, chocolate and loads of dried fruit and nuts, making it one of our favourite traditional Easter recipes.
Weirdly enough, the day after this feast, Easter Monday for the rest of us, is called Wet Monday for Poles. On this day, men chase women around throwing water on them and hitting them with willow branches.
Time for something sweet? The Polish have you covered with this tart full of all the goodness of almonds, peanuts, meringue and chocolate.
Enjoyed these traditional Easter recipes? Find more inspiration HERE.
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