Favorite Recipes for the Lenten Season

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...MORE approved" and quite delicious.  You can also check out the list of Lenten Sweets and Desserts.

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    Classic White Bean Soup - Fassolatha. Photo © Lynn Livanos Athan

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

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    Horta Vrasta - Boiled 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.

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    Stuffed Grape Leaves with Rice and Herbs - Dolmathakia. 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.

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    Chickpea Stew - Revithatha of Sifnos. Photo © Lynn Livanos Athan

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

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  • 05 of 13
    Carp Roe Spread - Taramosalata. 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.

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    Green Beans Stewed with Olive Oil and Tomatoes - Fasolakia Lathera. 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.

  • 07 of 13

    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.​

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    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...MORE Romaine lettuce leaves (photo).

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  • 09 of 13
    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.

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    Photo of Greek Potato Ragout - Patates Yiahni
    Photo © N. Gaifyllia, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Another deceptively simple dish, potatoes are stewed with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and seasonings to create a hearty and warming dish.

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    Photo of Greek Fava - Purée of Yellow Split Peas
    Photo © Jim Stanfield

    Fava is made with yellow split peas (or yellow daal), and puréed to create a light appetizer or meze that, during Lent, goes exceptionally well with salty dishes as well as dark leafy greens. This is a great dish for vegetarians and vegans as well.

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    Photo of Greek Spinach & Herb Pie without Cheese - Spanakopita
    Photo © N. Gaifyllia, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    This version without cheese is as popular with Greeks as the version with cheese and is a popular Lenten and fasting dish. Although the name for this dish is often used for the spinach pie with cheese, traditional spanakopita does not include cheese. Made with other greens, this pie is called hortopita.

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  • 13 of 13
    Photo of Stuffed Bell Peppers with Bulgur and Basil
    Photo © N. Gaifyllia, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    If you aren't familiar with bulgur (also spelled "bulghur"), it is partially hulled wheat that has been soaked, steamed, dried, then crushed - and it can basically be used wherever you might use rice. It cooks quickly - like rice - and it has a wonderful nutty flavor. Bulgur is one of my favorite grains, and if you haven't tried it, this might be the perfect opportunity.