In times of fasting, the Greek Orthodox abstain from foods that come from animals containing blood, which include beef, poultry, eggs, dairy, and most seafood, shellfish being the exception because it contains no blood. During the strictest fasts, olive oil and wine are also abstained from. Traditional Lenten foods, as well as our own recipes we developed for fasting, are plentiful and delicious, and some might say that you’re not giving up anything if you’re enjoying your meal. The thing is, when you’re preparing these foods, you’re taking extra care to make suitable substitutions for the foods you can’t eat, which reminds you of why you’re doing it. In turn, you become spiritually aware and the fast is “serving” its purpose.
A Lenten Menu
Taramosalata (ταραμοσαλάτα): A coral-colored, mousse-like dip containing red carp (fish) roe.
Revithosalata (ρεβιθοσαλάτα): A chickpea salad with red onion, cucumber, tomato, and fresh herbs.
Fakes Soupa (φακές σούπα): A protein-packed lentil soup that gets its Greek twist from vinegar.
Lagana (λαγάνα): A flat bread that gets its “dimples” from fingertips pressed into the surface.
Horta Vrasta (χόρτα βραστά): A boiled variety of leafy greens. A dressing of lemon juice and olive oil give this side dish flavor and enhance its nutritional value.
Dolmadakia Gialanzi (ντολμαδάκια γιαλαντζί): Grape leaves filled with rice and flavored with lemon.
Gigantes Plaki (γίγαντες πλακί): Giant beans in a tomato-based sauce.
Htapodi Sharas (xταπόδι-σχάρας): Grilled octopus.
Garides sti Shara me Lemoni (γαρίδες στη σχάρα με λεμόνι): Grilled shrimp with lemon.
Loukoumades (λουκουμάδες): Light and fluffy puffs drizzled with honey.
Koulourakia made with wine (κουλουράκια με κρασί): Perfect for dunking when you want something subtly sweet.
Halva with oil (χαλβά με λάδι): A Lenten favorite, this homemade version of halva is made with semolina or farina and butter, but when fasting, the butter is replaced with canola oil. Once cooled in a form, the halva is unmolded and dusted with ground cinnamon, then cut into slices.
Halva/Halvah with tahini (χαλβά με ταχίνι): Very different from the homemade version, this store-bought halva, popular throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East, is made with tahini (sesame paste) and comes in blocks with varietal options that include plain, with nuts (pistachios or almonds) or raisins, marbled with chocolate, and marbled with chocolate that’s coated completely in dark chocolate (my favorite!).
The photos in this slideshow demonstrate our Lenten menu on any given day of our 40-day fast. This is the kind of “fast” food that fuels our bodies and souls.
I hope you enjoyed our Lenten tasting. Recipes for these foods and more will be featured in our upcoming cookbook! Stay tuned for future blogs on foods and customs relating to this Holy season of fasting and spiritual awakening.
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Kali orexi! Good appetite!
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
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