So far this week I’ve been posting foods that I’ve been preparing for Easter, yet I am not even able to taste them. I have so many of my favorite foods in the fridge but I haven’t been tempted at all. If it was a normal week and I’d promised myself to diet and lose a few pounds, I would not have had the will power to abstain with trays of pastitsio and tiropita in my home. Not to mention the array of Greek cheeses and pastrouma, the thinly sliced aged and spiced meat I could live on.
But this is not a normal week. It is Holy Week for Orthodox Christians and we follow a very strict fast—no meat, no dairy, and no olive oil. It would never occur to me to “cheat.” Nor would I want to. It would be disrespectful. Some ask, “What’s the purpose of this?” There are many reasons. Christ sacrificed his life for us, and suffered many tortures. Is it really a big deal to give up certain foods for a period of time? I also believe that each time you eat something, or consciously reject eating something, it reminds us of why we are making the decision to eat or not eat. It keeps our mind on the holiday and the spirit of the entire mournful week.
This can also be said of those celebrating Passover at this time, and the reason they are not eating leaven bread. Out of respect for what their ancestors went through, they follow this tradition born from struggle.
Often, I post fresh bean salads or meat free recipes, and not just during lent. There are plenty of vegan choices—more to eat than you think. Lemon roasted potatoes, grilled vegetables, pasta in marinara sauce, and corn salad to name a few. If you search this blog you can find many of these recipes. I use olive oil most of the time, but you can substitute vegetable oil for this week.
My most requested recipe is one of the simplest. Chickpea spread. It makes a nice dip, spread, or filling in a wrap. You can also add it to a salad. So, although I’ve posted this before as a summer appetizer, I am reposting it as a great way to curb your appetite during lent.
1 large (29oz.) can chickpeas
2 cloves garlic crushed
2 scallions sliced thin
1/8 tsp. paprika
Juice and zest of 1 lemon (zest is optional – it will add a more lemony flavor)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
5- 6 fresh basil leaves sliced in shreds
¼ cup olive oil (switch to vegetable oil for holy week only)
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. oregano
Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl. The texture of this is not smooth. It is mashed, but lumpy. Some of the chickpeas will get mashed and some will stay whole. Do not use a blender. I used a pastry blender. It’s an unconventional use for this tool, but it works great.