Charleston chef John Ondo looks to the Mediterranean for Easter inspiration
Easter in the South typically means a ham at the center of the table. For many of us, anyway. But plenty of Southerners—notably, Greek ones—celebrate the season of renewal with lamb. After all, lamb has symbolized spring since biblical times (see the first Passover). Making lamb the centerpiece of a spring menu, Easter or otherwise, is natural for John Ondo, chef and co-owner of Kairos Greek Kitchen in Mount Pleasant and Greenville, South Carolina, who has long gravitated toward Mediterranean foodways (though, in a testament to his dark sense of humor, rabbit anchored the Easter menu at his former Charleston restaurant, Lana). “I like the simplicity of Mediterranean food,” Ondo says. “You don’t need a bunch of butter and cream to make something taste good.” Instead, he relies on hyper-fresh seasonal vegetables like asparagus, beets, and carrots, and spices such as sumac and fennel for bright notes. As for the lamb, he’s all about the grill. “That little bit of smoke gives it an extra oomph of flavor and makes the spice rub come alive.”
This bright spring salad gets its zip from a tangy lemon vinaigrette.
Lemony and tart, sumac is having a moment right now. The deep-red dried berries of the sumac bush brighten vegetable dips and spreads.
Skip the spiral-cut ham: Make this Mediterranean-inspired lamb the centerpiece of your Easter spread.
Often served with lamb, briam is a sort of Greek ratatouille. Think plenty of fresh oregano and potatoes instead of eggplant, which give the dish more heft.