A huge part of creating a life to love is sharing it with those you love. Holidays are great reminders to connect to those we love whether we see them all the time or less often than we’d like. Tradition on holidays for us means we have a family friend over for Easter and she is always beyond grateful for the ever-changing menu. This year was a hit so I thought I’d share my menu along with a few recipes for you to incorporate in your next get together.

Being that I don’t eat meat it’s always interesting when I have a dinner party because although I always incorporate a meat item for those guests who do eat meat, I never know if it is going to taste good! Apparently, my idea for this year’s roast was good because everyone raved about it.

I didn’t plan that well and unfortunately, I wasn’t the only person looking for the perfect roast for Easter dinner. I was left with an “eye of round” whatever that means. I was told the meat could be tough so the best option for tender meat was to cook it at 500 degrees for 7 minutes per pound and then to turn off the oven and let it cook with the residual heat for the remaining 2.5 hours.

I like to cook as much as possible ahead of time and keep everything warming in the oven so I am not chained to the stove and am instead enjoying a martini with my guests (recipe to follow – this one is a must make!). Therefore, I decided to keep the oven on low to accommodate the other items and hope for the best!

I think because I don’t eat meat I tend to season meat aggressively which so far has worked out for me (or should I say for my guests).

Today’s plan for the EYE OF ROUND: heavily season with pink Himalayan salt, roll in this great seasoning I found PINK PEPPERCORN AND LEMON THYME from Spiceologist, sear and proceed to directions I was given by the butcher. By the way, this rub is amazing. I initially bought it because its pretty and I thought it would be perfect for Easter but it really is delicious. Rave reviews from the roast and I’ve used it when roasting root vegetables. But I digress. My wife and mom both like well-done meat and my dad could basically eat it raw so I was a little leery of a roast but I figured if I HEAVILY seared both sides it’d do the trick.

So I poked some holes in the meat and rolled it in the mix pressing it in as I rolled. I don’t know if it makes a difference or not but I left the meat out to come to room temp with the mix smashed into it so I guess that added to the flavor a bit. When it was ready I heavily seared both sides hoping that they’d be well done while the center remained somewhat rare after baking. Then, I put the roast with fat side up in a 500 degree oven as instructed for 25 minutes and turned the oven to its lowest setting which for my oven is 170 degrees where it sat slow cooking away.

About 45 minutes before the roast was said to be done I topped it off with a delicious butter mixture that I figured could only add to the end result. I used softened butter, fresh tarragon, fresh marjoram, garlic and just a bit more of that pretty mix for good measure. Well that turned out to be a great idea because when the roast was done that mixture had formed a tasty crust which was a hit.

The last 20 minutes I threw in the rest of the sides to warm up that I had previously made and voila – everything magically finishes at the same time and I haven’t skipped a beat.

The sides I made to accompany the meal: roasted heirloom vegetables over a roasted vegetable puree topped with feta, Italian farro with sautéed zucchini and shallots with a lemon basil vinaigrette, roasted Brussels sprouts with new potatoes braised in butter and a delicious homemade seed and nut bread.

The beauty of this menu is nearly everything was made ahead of time. The vegetable puree 2 days prior, farro day before, lemon basil vinaigrette the day before, Brussels sprouts and potatoes that morning along with the bread.

For dessert: homemade lemon poppyseed ice cream with Meyer lemon cake and lemon lavender glaze – but that’s for another day!

Lemon Lavender Martini:

Simple syrup – juice of 1 large lemon, ½ cup of sugar – boil until dissolved, stir in a small amount of lemon extract and lavender extract. Cool.

Coat the martini glass with dry vermouth by putting a small amount in the glass, swirl the glass until it is coated and pour excess into next glass to repeat.

Shake vodka and simple syrup in a shaker full of ice. Proportions are based on how strong or how sweet you want your drink. If you and your guests prefer a weaker drink you can always add a little lemonade to cut the drink. Shake well and pour in prepared glasses.

I topped my martinis with a lemon ribbon and lavender spring. Perfection.

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