In Germany, where I grew up, the Thursday before Easter is known as Gründonnerstag, or Green Thursday. The holiday, which commemorates Christ's Last Supper, dates back to the Middle Ages, when parishioners were given a green branch to signify completion of Lenten duties. Over time the "green" has also come to signal the arrival of spring, with its profusion of fresh herbs and vegetables, which are cooked into such holiday dishes as kerbelsuppe, a delicate chervil soup, and spinatknöpfli, a green variation of spätzle made with spinach and drizzled with brown butter. Though I now live in the U.S., I still observe Gründonnerstag each year, using fresh sorrel from my garden to make a tangy sauce that I serve over baked trout. It's my way of putting both Lenten fish and spring herbs together on one very verdant plate. — Nadia Hassani
Wine-braised trout topped with a tangy sorrel sauce is one of several regional springtime dishes enjoyed on Green Thursday in Germany. Get the recipe for Trout in Sorrel Sauce (Forelle mit Sauerampfersosse) »
WATCH: How To Fillet a Fish
Chervil stems are used to enrich the broth in this simple herb soup. Get the recipe for Cream of Chervil Soup (Kerbelsuppe) »
This vivid green spätzle-like noodle dish from southwestern Germany can be eaten plain or with melted or browned butter. Get the recipe for Spinach Buttons (Spinatknöpfli) »
Flaxseed oil adds a pleasant nutty flavor to this classic East German potato dish, a Green Thursday childhood favorite of author Nadia Hassani. Get the recipe for Boiled Potatoes with Quark and Flaxseed Oil (Pellkartoffeln mit Leinöl) »
More About This Menu
- If whole trout can't be found for the forelle mit sauerampfersosse, skin-on fillets can be substituted instead. For a primer on buying and storing whole fish, see our guide. For instructions on filleting a fish yourself, see our step-by-step technique.
- If you don't have a potato ricer, you can press the dough for the spinatknöpfli through the holes in a colander.
- Crisp, subtly fruity kölsch pairs wonderfully with this bright, fresh meal; read more about Cologne, Germany's signature beer in our story Gold Standard.
- For more about Green Thursday and its traditions, see Nadia Hassani's story Seeing Green from our April 2014 seafood issue.