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Favorite Recipes for the Lenten Season

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During fasting periods, the Orthodox faithful abstain from foods that are derived from animals with blood.  This includes beef, poultry and many types of fish.  Also restricted are eggs and dairy products.  Strict adherence also limits the consumption of olive oil and wine.  While it can be daunting to plan meals excluding these ingredients, it  doesn't mean that you can't enjoy a wide variety of tasty and delicious dishes.

These are a few favorite recipes that are "lenten approved" and quite delicious.  You can also check out the list of Lenten Sweets and Desserts.

 

1. Fassolatha - Classic White Bean Soup

Photo © Lynn Livanos Athan

A staple of the Lenten season. This recipe makes 6 - 8 servings and is hearty, nutritious, and delicious.

2. Horta Vrasta - Boiled Leafy Greens

Photo © Lynn Livanos Athan

These are easy to prepare and when dressed with a bit of olive oil and lemon, you will really enjoy the clean, pure taste.

3. Dolmathakia - Stuffed Grape Leaves with Rice and Herbs

Photo © Lynn Livanos Athan

Stuffed with rice, pine nuts, and fresh herbs, dolmathakia (dol-mah-THAH-kya) take a little bit of time to prepare, but they are so worth the effort!  You can also see this step-by-step photo tutorial on how to stuff and roll grape leaves.

4. Revithatha - Chickpea Stew

Photo © Lynn Livanos Athan

A simple and rustic vegetarian stew made from chickpeas that is the specialty of the island of Sifnos, Greece.

5. Taramosalata - Carp Roe Spread

Photo © Lynn Livanos Athan

The Greek meze (meh-ZEH) or appetizer table would not be complete without this creamy spread.  Wonderfully salty and richly flavored it is a traditional favorite of the Lenten season.

6. Fassolakia Lathera - Green Bean and Tomato Casserole

Photo © Lynn Livanos Athan

Vegetable dishes that are cooked with olive oil and tomatoes are referred to as lathera (lah-the-RAH) in Greek, because the key ingredient is flavorful olive oil, or “lathi.”  Skip the sprinkling of crumbled feta cheese if you want to strictly adhere to fasting guidelines.

7. Briam - Baked Vegetable Casserole

Photo © Lynn Livanos Athan

Briam is an oven roasted vegetable dish that can be adapted according to what is in season. Layers of vegetables are baked in a savory tomato sauce and served either as the main meal or as a tasty side dish.

8. Meatless Stuffed Cabbage Rolls - Lahanodolmades Orphana

Photo of Meatless Stuffed Cabbage and Other Leaves - Lahanodolmades Orphana
Photo © N. Gaifyllia, licensed to About.com, Inc.
The word "orphana" means "orphaned" and in Greek cooking, usually means a dish that can be made with meat, but in this case is made without. Cabbage is a favorite winter food, and this meatless recipe is delightful and a Lenten favorite. These cabbage rolls are delicious as a main dish, but I often make them using small pieces of the cabbage leaf, to create small rolls that are perfect as a side dish, addition to a buffet table, or appetizer. Try them also using chard leaves and Romaine lettuce leaves (photo).

9. Meatless Stuffed Vegetables with Rice

Photo of Greek Meatless Stuffed Vegetables with Rice - Yemista me Ryzi
Photo © Jim Stanfield
This meatless version of stuffed vegetables is so delicious, you'll never miss the meat. The stuffing is a mixture of rice and vegetables. This is my granddaughter's favorite version of stuffed vegetables, and a great way to get her to eat healthy foods she might not otherwise touch! If there's any filling left over, freeze it and use it another time. Defrost for 3-4 hours.

10. Mushroom & Onion Stew - Stifado me Manitaria

Photo of Greek Mushroom Stew with Onions - Manitaria Stifatho - Stifado
Photo © N. Gaifyllia, licensed to About.com, Inc.
Greek stifatho dishes are known as stews made with a lot of onions, a tomato-based sauce, and often with the taste of cinnamon for good measure. While the best known stifatho dishes may include meat, poultry, or seafood, this mushroom stew recipe is a favorite as well, especially during periods of fasting since it conforms to dietary guidelines of the Greek Orthodox faith. Personally, I love it simply because it tastes great! The bite of the vinegar, combined with the sweetness of the cinnamon give this mushroom stew a unique flavor.

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