Just in Time for Spring’s Easter and Passover Holidays: A New Spin on Roast Lamb

Turkish leg of lamb

Conventionally, the highlight of Easter Sunday’s dinner is a roast lamb dish. While many credit this to Spring being lambing season, the reason is actually rooted in the Old Testament in which we learn that the Children of Israel ate the gamey meat in remembrance of their Exodus from Egypt, when they were commanded by God to sacrifice a lamb and smear its blood on their doorposts so that the angel of death would “pass over” their homes when carrying out the final plague—the slaying of the firstborn—in retribution for the Egyptians’ cruelty. Subsequently, Jews have honored their escape from slavery by sacrificing the Paschal Lamb at Passover. Since the Pesach seder was Jesus’ Last Supper, it is believed that the Passover lamb must have been his final meal, and therein lies the roots of the Easter tradition. (Fun Fact: Incidentally, this is also why Easter is the only ‘moveable holiday’ on the Christian calendar—it falls in line with the Jewish Passover, which is dependent on a lunar (versus solar) calendar year.)

In honor of the Easter and Passover holidays, here’s one of Celebrity’s takes on roast lamb, which we think is the perfect update to your traditional Easter meal.


1 (12-pound) lamb leg (boned, whole)
10 garlic cloves (peeled, cut in four lengthwise)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons rosemary (chopped)
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon cumin powder
1/2 tablespoon black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
2  large white onions (rough chopped)
4 large carrots (rough chopped)


Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C).

With a small boning knife, make small incisions randomly around the leg of lamb. Insert the cut garlic cloves into the incisions, and with fingertips, press cloves all the way into the meat.

In a small mixing bowl, combine chopped rosemary with salt and spices; mix well and set aside. Brush lamb leg with olive oil, rub with the rosemary and spice mix. In a roasting pan, place onion and carrots on bottom; place leg of lamb on top.

Cook lamb or 7 to 10 hours, or until completely tender and almost falling from the bone. Remove and serve with a salad and tzatziki sauce.

Serves 6.

4 thoughts on “Just in Time for Spring’s Easter and Passover Holidays: A New Spin on Roast Lamb

  1. melanie Bloch

    The lamb is to commerate the Jews leaving the land of Egypt, on their start of the 40 year journey TO Israel. We are still here today…..

  2. Marvin Singer

    The information presented in the recipe for lamb is factually incorrect in its reference to the Jewish Holiday of Passover. Passover commemorates the exodus of the Jewish people from EGYPT, not Israel. Related to this issue is the experience we had in sailing on Celebrity’s Holy Land Cruise last October. The cruise stopped at two ports in Israel. But the cruise planners did not seem to realize that on Friday afternoons and Saturdays, many places in Israel close in observance of the Jewish Sabbath. Some rearrangement of the itinerary to schedule the port calls in Israel during weekdays would have demonstrated better planning, and the realization that the Holy Land is multi cultural.

    1. Carina Ost

      Thank you for the note, we corrected this in the post.

      I spoke to our team and it looks like all the sailings this year (2015) in Israel will arrive before the Sabbath. It’s not always possible but we do want our guests to experience all that the destinations have to offer so that is a great point that you made.

      Appreciate it!

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