7 Fuss-Free Recipes for an Elegant Mother’s Day Dinner

If there’s one person who deserves a day celebrating how great she is, it’s definitely Mom. And considering the woman changed your diaper most of those 3,800 times, she deserves to have someone take care of her for a change.

Show her how much you care by cooking a fabulous dinner you can enjoy together. And don’t worry if you’re no kitchen whiz. We’ve rounded up seven impressive meals that are way less complicated than they sound.

1. Salmon en Papillote with Cherry Tomatoes, Fennel, and Kalamata Olives

salmon

This salmon dinner is easier than it sounds. | iStock.com

Take the guesswork out of this delicate protein by whipping up an easy parchment salmon from Cooking for Keeps. Fill a parchment packet with fennel, salmon, lemon, cherry tomatoes, and a sprinkle of olives. Add a splash of sherry, and then fold the packet to seal everything together. Bake the packets for about 10 minutes, and your feast is ready to go. Busy Mother’s Day planned? Go ahead and assemble the packets in advance. Then, just pop them in the oven when you’re ready for dinner.

Ingredients:

  • 4 center-cut salmon fillets
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, thinly sliced, fronds reserved
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 lemons, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup kalamata olives
  • 8 teaspoons dry sherry
  • 4 teaspoons unsalted butter, divided

Directions: Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut out 4 (15-inch) squares of parchment paper. Fold in half and draw a large half heart, starting at the folded side. Cut out heart with scissors and open.

Place one-quarter of the sliced fennel on one side of the heart, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with three lemon slices. Place salmon on top, season with salt and pepper. Top with 2 more lemon slices and 1 teaspoon of butter. Sprinkle with one-quarter each of tomatoes and olives. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons of sherry.

Fold other half of heart over fish and, starting from pointed end, begin to fold edges, overlapping as you go, to create an airtight package. Twist ends, if necessary, to prevent steam from escaping. Repeat with remaining parchment and ingredients.

Place packets on a large baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Cut the center of each packet open. Sprinkle with fennel fronds. Serve.

Next: Impress Mom with your roasting skills.

2. Roast Chicken with Spring Vegetables

roast chicken and potatoes on a plate

You can’t go wrong with roast chicken and vegetables. | iStock.com

Roast chicken is anything but complicated with this simple method from Food Network. Using chicken quarters instead of a whole bird speeds up the cooking and allows you to roast the veggies right in the same pan. Give the chicken a 15-minute head start in the oven. Then, add cut radishes, potatoes, and carrots. Roast everything for 20 more minutes. And then sprinkle on some fresh dill and drizzle with a bit of lemon juice. This stunner might even rival Mom’s.

Ingredients:

  • 3½ pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken quarters
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound fingerling potatoes
  • 2 bunches radishes
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • 1 bunch baby carrots
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh dill

Directions: Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper. Then, place skin-side up on a rimmed baking sheet. Squeeze ½ lemon over chicken and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Roast 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut potatoes and radishes in half and cut scallions into thirds. Toss potatoes, radishes, carrots, scallions, and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a bowl; season with salt and pepper.

Remove chicken from the oven and scatter the vegetables around it. Continue to roast until the vegetables are tender and chicken is golden and cooked through,a bout 20 minutes more. Squeeze remaining ½ lemon over top. Sprinkle with dill and season with salt, to taste. Serve.

Next: Serve a fresh, springtime meal.

3. Easy Pea Ravioli with Mint

pea puree on a spoon

You’ll look like a professional chef with this one. | iStock.com

Stuffed pasta is usually an all-day project that requires making and rolling homemade dough. Skip all of the fuss, and make Martha Stewart Living’s easy pea ravioli with mint. The secret is wonton wrappers, which make a great substitute for fresh pasta.

Start by making an easy filling by sweating some shallots and garlic. Add the peas and a little wine, cook to reduce, and then puree the mixture in a food processor. Fill up the wrappers, and simmer the ravioli for a few minutes. A final bath of some melted butter and a sprinkle of fresh mint completes this spring-inspired meal. But be warned: Mom might want you to start cooking for her all the time.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2¼ cups shelled fresh, or thawed frozen, peas
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 40 (3½-inch) wonton wrappers
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • 4 fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced

Directions: Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add shallot; cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic; cook until soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Add peas, wine, 1 cup water, and 1½ teaspoons salt; season with pepper. Simmer until liquid has almost evaporated and peas are tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Puree pea mixture in food processor. Brush edges of 10 wonton wrappers with egg. Place 1 tablespoon puree in center. Top with a dry wrapper; pinch edges to seal. Trim using a 3-inch cutter, if desired. Repeat with remaining wrappers and puree.

Working in batches, cook ravioli in salted simmering water until they are soft and rise to the surface, about 2 minutes. Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat; add ravioli to skillet, and cook until butter is frothy and ravioli is coated, 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle with mint. Serve immediately.

Next: This is perfect for a mom who loves seafood.

4. Baltimore-Style Crab Cakes

crabcakes

Use precooked crab to simplify the meal. | iStock.com

Nothing says glamour like crab. But cooking the crustaceans and digging out the meat is an adventure no one needs to tackle in their own kitchen. Andrew Zimmern’s crab cakes, featured in Food & Wine, make use of precooked crab meat to simplify things. Just whisk together some mayo, egg, Worcestershire, hot sauce, and mustard. Fold the mixture into the crab and cracker crumbs, and chill. Scoop the mixture into patties, and fry in a touch of oil for about three minutes per side. They’re great served with a squeeze of lemon, but we also love an herbed tartar sauce.

Ingredients:

Crabcakes

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 pound jumbo lump crab meat, picked over
  • 20 saltine crackers, finely crushed
  • ¼ cup canola oil

To serve

  • Lemon wedges

Directions: In a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the egg, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce until smooth. In a medium bowl, lightly toss crabmeat with cracker crumbs. Gently fold in the mayonnaise mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Scoop crab mixture into 8 (⅓-cup) mounds; lightly pack into patties, about 1½ inches thick. In a large skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the crab cakes and cook over moderately high heat until deeply golden and heated through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer crab cakes to plates and serve with lemon wedges.

Next: Try a lighter dish if you’ve already filled up on Mother’s Day brunch.

5. Spring Asparagus Flatbread

flatbread with asparagus

It’s just fancy — and easy to make — pizza. | iStock.com

Pizza goes from late-night snack to fancy dinner with Naturally Ella’s simple flatbread. Asparagus and goat cheese make it special enough for a celebration, while purchased dough makes it easy enough for beginners. Toss the asparagus with olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, and onion. Then, crumble in the goat cheese, spread the mixture on top of the prepared crust, and send it off to the oven. A final garnish of chopped parsley completes the look.

Ingredients:

  • ½ pound asparagus
  • ⅓ cup diced red onion
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for dough
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 ounces goat cheese
  • ½ ball pizza dough
  • Minced flat-leaf parsley

Directions: Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut asparagus into ½-inch pieces. In a bowl, combine asparagus with onion, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Crumble goat cheese into mixture; toss to combine.

Roll out pizza dough into 8-by-12-inch rectangle. Transfer to an oiled baking sheet. Rub dough with a bit of olive oil. Spread asparagus mixture over dough. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until crust is crisp. Cut into wedges, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.

Next: Treat your mom with this simple, gourmet meal.

6. Pork Chops with Creamy Mushroom Sauce

pork chops with vegetables and fries

Give your mom a delicious, filling meal. | iStock.com

Applesauce may be pork chops’ traditional partner, but mushroom cream sauce might just be even better. Eating Well’s meat and mushroom combo makes a gorgeous entrée for any occasion. And with only 30 minutes of prep time, it’s absolutely worth the little bit of effort.

Brown the pork in a little bit of olive oil. Then, use the same pan to cook up some mushrooms and shallots. Add a little bit of wine, half-and-half, and some fresh herbs. And then spoon the sauce over the chops. When the main dish is this sophisticated, a simple side of steamed veggies is all you need to complete the meal.

Ingredients:

  • 4 (8-ounce) bone-in pork chops, trimmed
  • ½ teaspoon salt, divided, plus more
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • ⅓ cup minced shallots
  • 8 ounces mixed mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ⅓ cup half-and-half
  • ½ cup chopped fresh herbs, your choice

Directions: Sprinkle pork chops with ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and add 2 pork chops. Cook, turning once, until cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm. Repeat with remaining oil and chops.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan. Add shallots and mushrooms; cook, stirring frequently until mushrooms are browned, 2 to 4 minutes. Add wine and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt; cook, stirring up any browned bits, until liquid is mostly evaporated, 1 to 3 minutes. Stir in half-and-half and herbs; cook until bubbling, about 1 minute more. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve chops with sauce.

Next: This one sounds fancy, but it’s very simple to make.

7. Croque Madame

eggs

It’s just a fancy ham and cheese sandwich. | iStock.com

Don’t let the name fool you. This croque madame from Simply Delicious is just a dressed-up ham and cheese sandwich. Simply whisk together a roux. Then, add in some milk to make a creamy sauce. Layer the ham and cheese on top of bread slices, and let it start to melt in the oven. Top with another slice of bread and a generous spoonful of the sauce. Then, let the sandwiches get golden and bubbly. Top each with an egg for a real treat.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 to 1½ cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt and white pepper, to taste
  •  8 slices bread, toasted
  • 12 slices ham
  • 2 cups grated Gruyere cheese
  • 4 eggs, cooked to your liking

Directions: Preheat oven broiler. In a small saucepan, melt butter an whisk in flour to make a roux, cook for about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in milk to create a smooth sauce. Turn down heat to low and allow to cook, while whisking, until thickened. Add mustard and season to taste.

Divide ham and cheese among 4 slices of bread on a baking sheet. Place tray in oven and allow cheese to melt. Top with another slice of bread and a generous spoonful of sauce, then return to oven and broil until melted and golden. Remove from oven and top each with an egg. Serve.