If you’re struggling with what you can and can’t eat during Lent, there’s no need to worry. We’ve put together a list of food and drinks you can eat leading up to Easter, while still keeping your expert culinary status.
Challenge your technique and creativity with a seafood paella or with whole fried fish. When you’re avoiding meat entirely, there are plenty of bean dishes that will satisfy your cravings. Mint tea is a soothing substitute for caffeinated beverages and a soft poached pear or fresh fruit salad are satisfying, low-sugar desserts to satisfy your sweet tooth.
This meatless gumbo, made with various greens, is a traditional Lenten dish in Louisiana’s Catholic communities. Ham, sausage, or meat stock is often used in the soup at other times of the year.
Get the recipe for ‘Green’ Gumbo (Gumbo Z’Herbes) »
The fillets of whole roasted fish are easy to remove and serve using a serving fork or spoon, thin knife, or a spatula.
Get the recipe for Whole Roasted Black Bass with Potatoes, Green Olives, and Salsa Verde »
Whole Grilled Fish with Vietnamese Peanut Pesto
The recipe for this pan-fried fillet is finished with a white-wine butter sauce laced with lemon, capers, and shallots.
Get the recipe for Sole Piccata »
Icelandic home cook Kjartan Ólafsson serves this baked cod dish drizzled with a luscious sauce of butter and chopped hard-boiled eggs at Þorláksmessa, Saint Thorlak’s mass on December 23.
Get the recipe for Cod with Egg and Butter Sauce »
Salt cod is mashed with fluffy potatoes to make these bite-size pan-fried cakes from Prince Edward Island.
Get the recipe for Acadian Salt Cod Cakes »
Writer Isabel Gillies tosses together this summery dish with cod fresh from the Maine shoreline and seasonal garden greens. Rainbow chard, bibb lettuce, spring peas, and fresh herbs contrast with the richness of butter-basted pan-seared cod.
Get the recipe for Pan-Seared Cod with Spring Vegetables »
Though you’ll often see cod fillets fried on American menus, cooking it under a broiler allows you to add layers of toppings, and the fish’s delicate flavor is brought out and brightened by the tang and aroma of citrus. This large-format recipe uses the full captain’s cut (the meaty top two-thirds of the fillet located near the head). It is relatively even in thickness, making it ideal for roasting and broiling, and can serve a crowd.
Get the recipe for Panko and Herb-Crusted Cod Fillets »
Vada Pav (Indian Veggie Burgers)
Get the recipe for Maitake Mushrooms with Red Chiles and Cilantro »
This vegetarian soup, a Jamaican classic, is made with callaloo, a spinach-like green that can be found canned or fresh in Caribbean groceries. Serve with minced fresh Scotch bonnet chiles sprinkled on top for extra heat.
Get the recipe for Pepper Pot Soup »
Dolmakadia, the Greek word for stuffed grape leaves, is one of the most iconic recipes of Greek cuisine and, although there are many varieties, the meatless version is the most common. In the warmer months, try to find and use fresh grape leaves; they are more tender and flavorful than the jarred types. Out of season, jarred leaves are a fine substitute (we prefer the Orlando brand).
Greek Stuffed Grape Leaves With Rice and Herbs (Dolmadakia)
This take on okroshka, a classic summer soup named after the Russian word kroshit, meaning “to crumble” uses tangy kefir or buttermilk as a base and is filled with heaps of torn fresh herbs. Grated horseradish and spicy mustard add a gentle backnote to the soup. If you can’t find quail eggs or don’t have the patience to peel them, hard-boil chicken eggs and cut them into quarters.
Get the recipe for Chilled Buttermilk Soup with Herbs (Okroshka) »
These floral, buttery noodles from chef Antonia Klugmann at L’Argine a Vencò can be infused using either fresh or dried flowers. Steep the flowers in the butter and pasta cooking water in advance if desired, and reheat when ready to use. Any tubular pasta like bucatini or spaghetti, cooked al dente, will work.
Get the recipe for Spaghettoni with Jasmine, Saffron, and Chamomile »
Inspired by the potato tacos at Loncheria Otro Rollo in Bakersfield, CA, this versio is stuffed with fluffy mashed potatoes and pan-fried until crisp. The accompanying smoky ranchero sauce also would be great on meat or fish, or spooned over eggs.
Get the recipe for Tacos de Papa Hwy 99 (Potato Tacos) »
Before frying fish, Bishara gently rubs their skin and inner cavities with salt, then rinses. This trick seasons and cleans the fish, readying them for dredging.
Get the recipe for Galilee-Style Whole Fried Fish »
In Bishara’s family tradition, freekeh was prepared as a pilaf of sorts with chicken or meat. But this nutty grain also works well with spring and summer produce, like tomatoes, herbs, and fennel. This dish tastes just as good the second day.
Get the recipe for Freekeh Salad with Fennel and Chiles »
The ground spice and garlic marinade that adds layers of flavor to these fish kebabs also works well on cubed chicken or lamb.
Get the recipe for Galilee-Style Grilled Fish Kebabs »
Use this crisp, bright salad as a side dish or as a stand-in for chimichurri on top of fish, grilled meat, or chicken.”No matter where you fall on the cilantro spectrum,” says Bishara, “I urge you to try it.”
Get the recipe for Cilantro Salad with Olives, Avocado, and Limes »
Fava beans add protein to this take on the Levantine bread salad from Australia-based chef Matt Wilkinson.
Get the recipe for Fava Bean, Herb, and Pomegranate Fattoush »
Garlic and aromatic vegetables are folded into this brothy beans-and-greens side dish to add body and an earthy depth.
Get the recipe for Swiss Chard with Borlotti Beans (Verdure con Fagioli) »
In this traditional Lucchese soup, vegetables and beans are slow-cooked until little to no bite remains, making it a rustic, comforting dish. Be sure to give any tougher vegetables all the time they need to
scompare, or disappear. The quantities are flexible, so use whatever you have on hand. Get the recipe for Italian Bean and Vegetable Soup »
A sweet-sour syrup dresses this refreshing mixed berry salad. Prepare the berries in the morning, and toss the salad with the vinegar and mint immediately before serving.
Get the recipe for Mixed Berries and Mint with Berry Shrub »
A well-made paella contains a feast within a single pan.
Get the recipe for Shellfish Paella
Seema Ahmed prepares
mekunu, a mullet dish of her native Maldives.
North African-style sweet tea braced with fresh mint is both soothing and stimulating.
Get the recipe for Moroccan Mint Tea »
These stewed pinto beans can be eaten with tortillas for a light meal, or as a side dish for many savory foods.
Get the recipe for Frijioles de Olla »