Give Easter sides some respect

Meat may excite at the end of Lent, but it needs company

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If Thanksgiving is all about the sides, Easter is all about the main.

We may agonize over styles of stuffings, whole or smooth cranberry sauces, sweet potatoes with or without marshmallows, and so much else at Turkey Day, then just cobble together a what-have-you assortment to accompany the beloved Easter ham or lamb.

But we decided Easter side dishes deserve more respect, so we created these to liven up your offerings.

• We start with peas. Give them a simple sauté with butter and a trio of seeds — caraway, coriander and mustard — and they are a dish to get excited about.

• For a fresh take on salad, we created a broccoli slaw seasoned with Dijon mustard, as well as the zests and juices of a lemon and an orange. Chopped dried apricots add a sweet touch while toasted pine nuts offer a savory crunch.

• Finally, we have a vegetable patty made from the main ingredients of ratatouille. Finished with fresh oregano, feta cheese and a drizzle of balsamic glaze, this is a side that can hold its own at the Easter table.

Butter-Spiced Skillet Peas

Start to finish: 15 minutes; Servings: 4

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

½ teaspoon caraway seeds

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

½ teaspoon mustard seeds

¼ teaspoon smoked paprika

10 ounces sweet peas

Kosher salt and black pepper

In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the caraway seeds, coriander, mustard and paprika. Cook, stirring frequently, until toasty smelling, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the peas and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, or until just tender. Season with salt and black pepper.

Per serving: 110 calories; 50 calories from fat (45 percent of total calories); 6 g fat (3.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 15 mg cholesterol; 10 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 0 g sugar; 4 g protein; 120 mg sodium.

Citrus-Pine Nut Broccoli Slaw

Start to finish: 15 minutes; Servings: 8

Zest and juice of 1 orange

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon white balsamic or sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 heads broccoli, very finely chopped (about 6 cups)

¼ cup finely chopped dried apricots

3 scallions, thinly sliced

¼ cup toasted pine nuts

In a medium bowl, mix together the zests and juices of the orange and lemon. Whisk in the vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper and olive oil.

Add the broccoli, apricots and scallions and mix well.

Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with the pine nuts.

Per serving: 100 calories; 60 calories from fat (60 percent of total calories); 7 g fat (0.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 9 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 3 g protein; 180 mg sodium.

Ratatouille Cakes

Start to finish: 20 minutes; Servings: 8

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 small red onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

½ medium red bell pepper, cored and diced

1 small eggplant, grated

1 small zucchini, grated

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 egg, lightly beaten

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon dried thyme

½ cup bread crumbs

¼ cup crumbled feta cheese or goat cheese

2 tablespoons balsamic glaze

2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped

In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high. Add the onion, garlic and bell pepper and cook until soft, about 7 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. Set aside.

Place the eggplant and zucchini in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze over the sink to remove as much liquid as possible. Add to the onion mixture. Stir in the tomato paste, egg, salt, black pepper, thyme and bread crumbs. Set aside.

Wipe out the skillet, then heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high. Working in batches, drop the vegetable mixture by the tablespoonful into the pan, flattening them with the back of a spoon. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until cooked through and golden brown. Drain on a clean paper bag, then transfer to a serving plate and sprinkle with the cheese. Drizzle the balsamic glaze over the top and sprinkle with the oregano.

Per serving: 130 calories; 60 calories from fat (46 percent of total calories); 7 g fat (1.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 25 mg cholesterol; 13 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 5 g sugar; 3 g protein; 310 mg sodium.