From the Journal: Springtime Luncheon

by Magnolia
Published on March 6, 2024

A white graphic with a light green border is centered with green text that reads "springtime luncheon" and "refreshing recipes worthy of any occasion." The top says "Magnolia Journal."

This story was adapted from the spring 2024 issue of Magnolia Journal. For all the recipes, get a magazine copy here or on a newsstand near you.





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Spring is a season ripe with occasions to gather around a table and plant the seeds of a fresh start. It holds a promise of longer days in the sun and plates peppered with produce like honeyed carrots, sugar snap peas, fresh fruits, and flavorful herbs. This simple collection of recipes is versatile enough to surprise and delight every guest whether you’re hosting a holiday meal or an impromptu lunch.

A wooden table is filled with spring-inspired lunch dishes—like Ham & Cheese Bread Pudding, Honey-Thyme Roasted Carrots, and Strawberry-Basil Sparklers.

Ham & Cheese Bread Pudding

A savory casserole and tangy tomato sauce come together for a yummy main.

PREP: 25 minutes

CHILL: 1 hour to overnight

BAKE: 50 minutes

COOL: 15 minutes

MAKES: 8 servings

Nonstick cooking spray

8 large eggs

1½ cups heavy cream

2 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. mustard powder

1 tsp. ground nutmeg

½ tsp. sweet paprika

½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 1-lb. loaf French bread, torn up or cut into

½-inch slices 8 oz. thickly sliced deli Black Forest ham, chopped into bite-size pieces (about 1 cup)

8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (2 cups)

2 oz. Parmesan cheese, finely shredded (1⁄2 cup)

Tomato Hollandaise Sauce

1. Coat a 3-qt. rectangular baking dish with cooking spray.

2. Whisk together eggs and cream in a large bowl until well blended. Whisk in thyme, garlic, salt, mustard, nutmeg, paprika, and black pepper.

3. Line bottom of prepared dish with half of the bread. (If using slices, trim crusts and cut as needed to fit. ) Top evenly with ham and cheddar cheese. Cover with remaining bread.

4. Pour egg mixture over bread, letting it seep down into bread. Sprinkle Parmesan over top. Cover and chill at least 1 hour or up to overnight. Press down on top gently from time to time to submerge bread.

5. Preheat oven to 350°F. Uncover and bake 50 minutes or until deep golden on top and a knife inserted in center comes out moist but not wet. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

6. Prepare Tomato Hollandaise Sauce while bread pudding is baking. Serve pudding topped with sauce.

TOMATO HOLLANDAISE SAUCE: Combine 4 large egg yolks, ½ Tbsp. fresh lemon juice, and 1 Tbsp. water in a medium stainless-steel bowl or the top of a double boiler. Nest bowl over a pot of simmering water (bowl should not touch water). Whisk mixture 3 to 4 minutes or until egg yolks thicken and double in volume. Whisking constantly, add ¾ cup (1½ sticks) melted salted butter in a slow, steady stream. The sauce will thicken and increase in volume. Add 2 tsp. tomato paste and a pinch each cayenne pepper and ground white pepper. If you like, whisk in additional tomato paste for a deeper flavor and color. Taste and add more lemon juice if you like.

TO STORE: The casserole is best served the day it is made, but leftovers can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator up to 2 days.

A person eats a plate of honey-thyme roasted carrots with a fork and spoon.

Honey-Thyme Roasted Carrots

Tender roasted carrots rest on a bed of cool herbed yogurt and crunchy pistachios.

PREP: 20 minutes

ROAST: 30 minutes

MAKES: 8 servings

2 lb. small carrots with tops, peeled and tops trimmed

⅓ cup olive oil

2 Tbsp. honey

1 tsp. lemon zest (set aside)

2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves

2 cloves garlic, minced

1½ tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. ground coriander

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

2 cups plain whole-milk Greek yogurt

¼ cup chopped roasted pistachio nuts

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a very large sheet pan with foil. Spread carrots on prepared pan.

2. Whisk together olive oil, honey, lemon juice, thyme, garlic, 1 tsp. of the salt, the coriander, cumin, and pepper in a small bowl. Drizzle mixture over carrots, tossing to coat.

3. Roast about 30 minutes or until crisp-tender and golden, turning carrots halfway through cooking.

4. Meanwhile, stir together yogurt, pistachios, mint, the lemon zest, and the remaining 1⁄2 tsp. salt. Spread on a serving platter. Arrange roasted carrots over yogurt mixture on platter. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately.

A hand touches a strawberry-basil drink with ice in a glass.

Strawberry-Basil Sparkler

Drink this berry-and-herb refreshment on its own or pair it with champagne for an easy spring cocktail.

PREP: 10 minutes

COOK: 15 minutes

CHILL: 1 hour to 1 week

MAKES: 8 servings

1 lb. fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

½ cup packed fresh basil leaves

1 Tbsp. fresh lemon or lime juice

Ginger ale, sparkling water, or champagne, chilled

1. For syrup, combine strawberries, sugar, water, and basil in a medium saucepan. Bring to boiling, stirring to dissolve sugar and slightly mash berries; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, 10 to 15 minutes or until berries are very soft and mixture has slightly thickened. Remove from heat and let cool. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve; discard solids. Place syrup in a glass jar and stir in lemon juice; cover. Chill at least 1 hour. Store in the refrigerator up to 1 week.

2. For each drink, add ¼ cup (2 oz.) chilled syrup to a tall ice-filled glass. Top with ¾ cup (6 oz.) ginger ale, sparkling water, or champagne. Garnish with additional sliced strawberries and fresh basil leaves.

TO MAKE A PITCHER: To make four servings in a pitcher, add 1 cup syrup and 3 cups ginger ale, sparkling water, or champagne. Stir to combine. Pour into ice-filled glasses.

TO STORE: Freeze syrup in ice cube trays [2 Tbsp. (1 oz.) per cube] up to 1 month. Thaw and mix as directed in Step 2.

Note: This is a sampling of recipes from a story in the spring 2024 issue of Magnolia Journal. To get the rest of them, order a copy here—or subscribe for more inspiration delivered to your door.