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Easter buffet is easygoing.

EXALTING THE JOYFUL freshness of springtime, this handsome buffet lunch features a menu of simple, wholesome flavors appealing to all ages.

An Easter egg salad on crisp leaves accompanies easy-to-carve butterflied leg of lamb that you stuff into pocket sandwiches. Mellow grilled and raw vegetables make up a second salad, and dessert is sweet strawberries with a choice of crisp cookies and Easter basket confections.

The only last-minute duty is barbecuing the marinated butterflied lamb. It cooks in less than an hour and yields meat of varied degrees of doneness. You can barbecue eggplant for the salad the day before, or about 30 minutes before you cook the lamb. You can also make egg salad the day before, but you might want to wait until after the Easter egg hunt and use some of the find.

Buy or make the biscotti and shortbread. Offer a white or red Zinfandel or a soft Rhone-style red wine; provide chilled raspberry-cranberry juice for children.

Barbecued Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Mint and Pocket Bread

1 leg of lamb (5 to 6 lb.), boned and trimmed of surface fat 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar At least 1/3 cup mint jelly 1/3 cup minced fresh mint leaves Fresh mint sprigs (optional) Salt Pepper Small pocket bread (about 3-1/2 in. wide), or regular pocket bread (about 6 in. wide) cut in half crosswise

Lay meat boned side up. Slash about halfway through thickest portions, as needed, and pull meat, patting cut edges down, to make the piece relatively even.

Place lamb in a 9- by 13-inch pan. In a 1- to 1-1/2-quart pan over medium-high heat, stir vinegar with 1/3 cup mint jelly just until boiling. Stir in mint and pour evenly over lamb. Cover and chill 2 hours or up to a day. Turn meat over occasionally.

On firegrate in a barbecue with a lid, ignite 50 to 60 charcoal briquets. When briquets are dotted with ash, in about 30 minutes, spread them into a single layer; scatter 10 to 12 more briquets over coals. Set grill 5 to 6 inches above coals. Lift meat onto grill; reserve marinade. Put lid on barbecue and open vents.

Turn meat as needed to brown evenly; baste often with marinade. Cook until thickest part of meat is done to your liking; for rare (140[degrees] on a thermometer) in center of thickest part, allow about 40 minutes total. Thinner sections will be well done.

Transfer lamb to a platter and let rest 5 to 10 minutes. Garnish with mint sprigs. Slice meat thin. Season to taste with mint jelly, salt, and pepper. Eat with knife and fork or tuck into pocket bread. Serves 8 or 9. Per serving: 264 cal.; 34 g protein; 9.4 g fat (3.3 g sat.); 8.5 g carbo.; 84 mg sodium; 108 mg chol.

Grilled Eggplant Salad with Onion and Cucumber

2 small (about 1 lb. each) eggplants, ends trimmed, cut into 3/4-inch-thick slices About 2 tablespoons salad oil 1 medium-size (about 1 lb.) European cucumber, thinly sliced 1 small (about 1/2 lb.) red onion, thinly sliced 1/2 cup cider vinegar 2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar About 1/2 teaspoons salt

Lightly brush eggplant slices with oil and put them on a tray.

On a barbecue with lid, place grill 5 to 6 inches over a solid bed of hot coals (you can hold your hand at grill level only 2 or 3 seconds). When grill is hot, rub it lightly with a paper towel dipped in salad oil.

Lay eggplant slices close together on grill. Cover barbecue, open drafts, and cook until slices are well browned and soft when pressed, 15 to 20 minutes; turn, as needed, with a wide spatula. Return slices to the tray. If slices are cooked ahead, cover and chill up to a day.

In a bowl, cover cucumber and onion slices with ice water. Quickly squeeze slices to bruise lightly, then cover and chill 30 minutes to 1 hour; drain. In bowl, mix cucumber, onion, vinegar, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. If made ahead, cover and chill up to 4 hours. Coarsely chop eggplant and spoon onto a rimmed platter; top with cucumber and onion mixture. Add salt to taste. Makes 8 or 9 servings. Per serving: 76 cal.; 1.5 g protein; 3.2 g fat (0.4 g sat.); 12 g carbo.; 127 mg sodium; 0 mg chol.

Egg Salad with Leaves

8 hard-cooked large eggs, shelled 1/3 cup each mayonnaise and unflavored nonfat yogurt 3 tablespoons minced fresh dill 1 teaspoon pepper Salt About 2 quarts rinsed and crisped Belgian endive leaves, small romaine leaves, and small butter lettuce leaves (or all of 1 kind)

In a food processor or in a bowl, finely mash eggs. Add mayonnaise, yogurt, dill, pepper, and salt to taste; mix well. Serve, or cover and chill up to a day.

Arrange leaves on a platter and put egg salad in a small bowl. Serve leaves on plates and top with salad, or scoop salad onto leaves and hold to eat. Makes 2-1/2 cups, 8 or 9 servings. Per tablespoon salad: 30 cal.; 1.4 g protein; 2.5 g fat (0.5 g sat.); 0.4 g carbo.; 24 mg sodium; 44 mg chol.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:includes recipes
Author:Bateson, Betsy Reynolds
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Apr 1, 1992
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