Old-Fashioned Easter Feast Menu

If visions of Easter hams danced through your head all winter long, yet you can’t shake the idea of some succulent leg of lamb, we have the perfect menu for you. Let both the ham and the lamb be stars, served with fresh, colorful springtime side dishes.

Round out your feast with some freshly baked breads and Easter-themed sweet treats. I have a large family of hearty eaters, so these recipes are sized for 12 people. You can easily adapt them to your family’s size.

Old-Fashioned Easter Feast Menu:
Classic Leg of Lamb
Mommy’s Special Ham
Make-Ahead Penne Primavera
Salad of Many Colors
Parsley Buttered Potatoes
Traditional Harvard Beets
Fancy Green Beans
Lamb Cake

Classic Leg of Lamb
6 pounds leg of lamb, deboned and tied
1 tablespoon and 1-1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
7-1/2 cloves garlic, cut into slivers
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
1-1/2 (15 ounce) cans tomato sauce

1.Preheat oven to 375°F.

2.Rub the leg of lamb all over with salt and pepper. Use a small knife to make punctures in the lamb about 1 inch apart. Press slivers of garlic into each hole so that they are about 1/2 inch below the surface. Place the meat in a roasting pan. You can either remove the rosemary from the stalk and sprinkle and rub into the meat on all sides, or you can simply use the string from the lamb to secure against it. Pour the tomato sauce over the whole thing.

3.Bake for 45 minutes in the preheated oven, then lower the temperature to 325°F, and continue roasting until the internal temperature of the meat is at least 160°F, about 15 minutes. If you want the meat well done, wait until the internal temperature reaches 170°F.

Let the roast rest for about 10 minutes before carving.

Mommy’s Special Ham
1 (6-pound) bone-in ham, spiral-cut
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup orange juice
1 (12-ounce) can/bottle of ginger ale
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 (10 ounce) jar maraschino cherries, halved
1/4 (15.25 ounce) can pineapple slices in juice, drained
1/4 box round wooden toothpicks

  1. Preheat the oven – For a ham that has only been partially cooked, you will need to allow about 20 minutes per pound in a moderate (350°F) oven. A fully cooked ham will require about 10 minutes per pound in order to be heated all the way through.

  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the maple syrup, orange juice, ginger ale, brown sugar and honey. Stir in the juice from the maraschino cherries, and half of the cherries. Score the outer edge of the ham with a sharp knife in a diamond pattern. Cuts should be about 1/4 inch deep. This will allow the ham to soak up the juice.

  3. Place the ham into an oven bag, and carefully pour the juice mixture over it, keeping all of the juice in the bag. It may look like there is too much juice, but the ham will soak it up while baking. Place the pineapples onto the top of the ham, and secure with toothpicks. Place cherries into the centers of the rings, and secure with toothpicks also. Tie the end of the bag closed with the ties provided, place in a large roasting pan, and cut a few small slits in the top of the oven bag.

  4. Bake the ham for 2 hours in the preheated oven. The internal temperature should be 160°F when done. Be sure not to touch the bone when taking the temperature. Remove ham from bag to a serving plate, and let stand for 10 minutes before carving.


Make-Ahead Penne Primavera
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 cups broccoli florets
2 medium carrots, julienne
4 cups vegetable broth
2 (8 ounce) packages penne pasta
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  1. Heat the olive oil and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat. When garlic is tender, remove from skillet and set aside. Place the broccoli and carrot in the skillet, and cook 2 minutes, just until heated through.

  2. In a pot, bring the vegetable broth to a boil. Stir in the penne pasta and heated crushed garlic clove. Cook for 5 minutes, or until pasta is almost al dente. Remove and discard garlic clove.

  3. Transfer the partially cooked pasta and broth to the skillet. Mix in the peas. Cover skillet, and continue cooking 10 minutes over medium heat or until pasta is al dente and vegetables are tender. This is ideal to make day or two ahead and reheated immediately before serving. Toss with the Parmesan cheese to serve.

Salad of Many Colors

1/4 cup diced red onion
2/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1 tablespoon mustard powder
1 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
4 eggs
10 ounces fresh spinach – chopped, washed and dried
1 head iceberg lettuce – rinsed, dried, and chopped
3/4 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 pound bacon – cooked and crumbled
1 1/2 cups crushed croutons
1 red onion, sliced in rings

  1. Place eggs in a saucepan and cover completely with cold water. Bring water to a boil. Cover, remove from heat, and let eggs stand in hot water for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from hot water, cool, peel and chop.

  2. In a small saucepan, combine the diced onion, sugar, black pepper, celery salt, mustard, vegetable oil, and vinegar. Whisk over high heat until all ingredients are well mixed and onions are translucent. Remove from heat and refrigerate until cool.

  3. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, spinach, iceberg, bacon, mushrooms, croutons and onion rings. Toss together. Can be fixed ahead and dressed when ready to serve.

  4. Pour dressing over salad and toss to coat evenly.

Parsley Buttered Potatoes
4 pounds red potatoes
1 tablespoon salt
2/3 cup butter, cubed
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

Peel off a strip around each potato if desired. Place in a large saucepan; cover with water. Add salt. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until tender; drain. Add butter and parsley; toss until butter is melted.

Traditional Harvard Beets
1-1/2 cups white sugar
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons cornstarch
2/3 cup white vinegar
2/3 cup water
4 (15 ounce) cans sliced beets, drained
1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

  1. In a saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, vinegar and water. Bring to a boil, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the beets to the liquid, and simmer for 30 minutes over low heat. Stir in butter, salt and pepper and remove from the heat. Serve warm or chilled.

Special Green Beans
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup slivered almonds
3 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed and snapped
Salt and pepper

  1. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the garlic and almonds, and saute until lightly browned.

  2. Place the green beans in a medium saucepan with enough water to cover, and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. Cook 5 minutes, or until tender. Drain, and toss with the garlic and almonds to serve.

Keep your menu basic, and prepare ahead where you can.  Enjoy the gifts of family, friendship and what this day means to all of us.

About Dori Fritzinger

I live and work with my multi-generational family in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. We have a farm of cows and calves, wool sheep, dairy goats, rabbits, ducks, geese, chickens, honey bees, a horse and a donkey. We have a goat's milk soap and bath products line available on our farm web site. I enjoy reading, quilting and doing embroidery.