Eastern European Recipes for Easter from My Ukrainian Family
These Ukrainian Easter recipes have been in my family for generations. You’ll find out traditional Eastern European recipes for Paska, Hrudka, Surnyk, and Pierogies to enjoy with your ham and kielbasa. Read on to learn more about what these are, and maybe prepare a few for a Slovak Pascha celebration.
In all of Christianity, Easter is the celebration of Christ rising from the dead. While the most important part of the holy day is going to Mass, there are many other Eastern European traditions, many of which come out of our Byzantine Catholic faith.
I was born into a family that loves to eat, and food is central to many of our celebrations. So as a food blogger, it excites me to share this with you, whether you are Ukrainian, or are just curious about the foods and traditions of other cultures.
Right now, I just want to share a few recipes with you, but I hope to keep growing this post to share more about my Slovak heritage. I also want to add more recipes in the years to come, including making some of them gluten free, as I have done with a couple here, so that I can continue to enjoy them.
I hope you find this interesting, and maybe even delicious!
Khrystos Voskres! Voistyno Voskres!
Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Rised!
Symbolism of Ukrainian Easter foods
During Lent, there are different days and types of fasting, giving up certain foods or other behaviors. On Holy Saturday we often have many of the food that we are going to enjoy on Easter blessed at church. These are foods from which we had to abstain on certain days, and each has a meaning.
The egg symbolizes the tomb from which Jesus rose. Some families still make Pysanky, which are elaborately decorated eggs. But you may be more familiar with Krashansky, which are hard-boiled eggs dyed a single color. We start our Easter feast in my family by sharing one of the blessed eggs to show family unity.
While my mom often puts hard-boiled eggs in the potato salad we eat on Easter, you can also use them to make deviled eggs.
The meat products represent the animals used for sacrifice in the Old Testament, and Jesus who sacrificed his life as the Savior of the world.
Common meats that are eaten on Easter are ham, kielbasa (a type of Eastern European sausage), and sometimes roasted lamb.
Butter and cheese
We often bless butter that is in the shape of a lamb, again to represent the Lamb of God. Dairy products are often used in prophecies of the prosperity and peace that God will bring to us,
My family makes two of the cheeses, Hrudka and Syrnyk.
Hrudka is cheese made from eggs. It is savory and mild-tasting, and after draining in cheesecloth can be sliced.
Syrnyk is a sweet Easter cheese made from farmers cheese or ricotta. You can enjoy it with your main course or as essentially a crustless cheesecake for dessert.
Jesus is the “Living Bread” and the rising of the dough reminds us of His rising. The breads we make, paska and babka, are rich and sweet bread recipes enriched with eggs and butter. It is a special bread, to reflec tits special meaning of Jesus as the bread of everlasting life who nourishes our souls.
In our family, we make Paska, which has been passed down for generations. It is rich but light and fluffy, slightly sweet, and studded with raisins. We usually put a dough cross on some of the loaves as a symbol of Christ.
Horseradish and salt
Horseradish was part of the original Passover meal to remind Jews of the harshness and bitterness of life in Egypt, and now represents the bitterness of sins. Sometimes it is sweetened with red beet juice to symbolize Christ’s Passion. Salt calls to mind when Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth.”
You can get a jar od horseradish to serve with your ham, or try this Horseradish Cheddar Mashed Cauliflower.
Admittedly we have not often made the traditional Eastern European desserts in my family, but here are some spring dessert recipes you might enjoy: