Living on the Coast with its fresh seafood and produce makes it easy to give up a food group for Lent, which is a time of reflection, prayer and sacrifice leading up to Good Friday, April 19.
Several denominations fast from certain foods during Lent, a solemn religious observance that began Ash Wednesday and continues for 40 weekdays until Easter.
Whatever a believer decides to sacrifice is usually left up to him or her. Typically, Catholics abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent, but members of other denominations may follow suit or give up sweets, coffee and the like. One friend gives up Coca-Cola and her weekly honey bun.
She says that may not seem like a sacrifice to others, but Cokes and her weekly sweet treat are things she really enjoys.
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Others may fast from social media or even personal shopping. In the past, Lenten sacrifices have been more rigid. When I was in elementary school, fish sticks or patties were the order of the day on Fridays.
Coastians are blessed with shrimp, crabs and good fish, so Fridays are not simply frozen fish sticks or fish sandwiches. How about a bowl of Gulf shrimp and grits? Now, that is anything but boring.
To keep Lenten foods interesting and certainly not dull, here are some recipes that will tempt the taste buds. Fish and chips kicked up with horseradish and crispy panko (Japanese) bread crumbs turns the ordinary into a delight. Of course, chips or fries, either fried or baked, must be an accompaniment. This recipe uses baked fish and potatoes.)
Go meatless with eggplant stuffed with ricotta, spinach and artichoke hearts and get most of your daily veggies in one meal.
Right in the middle of Lent is St. Patrick’s Day, known for its corned beef and cabbage. My favorite food from St. Patrick’s Day is Irish soda bread. I love it served with lemon curd, and folks that are abstaining from meat can enjoy a warm slice of soda bread in honor of St. Paddy’s Day.
CRISPY FISH AND CHIPS
- 4 cups frozen steak fries
- 4 thick-cut fish fillets, salmon, cod, whatever you like or whatever is freshest
- 1 to 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
- 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
- Cooking spray
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Arrange steak fries in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake on lowest oven rack 18-20 minutes or until light golden brown.
Meanwhile, place fish fillets on a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray. In a small bowl, mix horseradish, cheese, Worcestershire sauce, mustard and salt; stir in panko. Press mixture onto fillets. Spritz tops with cooking spray.
Bake fish on middle oven rack 8-10 minutes or until fish begins to flake easily with a fork. Serve with fries.
Nutritional facts: 1 fillet with 3/4 cup fries: 416 calories, 19 grams fat (4 saturated fat) 86 milligrams cholesterol, 698 milligrams sodium, 26 grams carbohydrates, 32 grams protein. Diabetic exchanges: 5 lean meat, 1 1/2 starch.
– From Taste of Home magazine
STUFFED EGGPLANT WITH RICOTTA, SPINACH & ARTICHOKE
- 2 small eggplants
- 1 shallot
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (12-ounce) bag frozen artichoke hearts
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 roasted red pepper, chopped
- 1 cup fresh baby spinach, chopped
- ½ cup Romano cheese, grated
- Parsley and basil, chopped
Cut eggplant lengthwise then carefully scoop out the middle, leaving a small border all the way around the eggplant half. Drizzle the inside with olive oil, salt and pepper. Do the same with the scooped out eggplant, place them all on a baking sheet in a preheated 400-degree oven and bake until tender and cooker through.
When the eggplant is finished cooking, remove it from the oven to cool down. On another baking sheet place on 12-ounce bag of frozen artichoke hearts, a shallot and 3 minced garlic cloves, drizzle everything with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in the 400-degree oven until artichokes are defrosted and tender.
Then place everything into a big bowl: the artichoke mixture, the scooped out cooked eggplant, ricotta cheese, red pepper, baby spinach, grated Romano cheese, chopped parsley and basil.
Pile the mixture high into the scooped out portion of the eggplant and place back into the 400-degree oven until ricotta is heated through, about 15 minutes.
For a finishing touch, drizzle a rick balsamic glaze all over the stuffed eggplant.
– Recipe from www.keyingredient.com
IRISH SODA BREAD
- 2 cups white flour
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons butter, chilled
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 1/2 cups butter milk or plain yogurt
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
Cut in the butter until it is pea-sized. Stir in the raisins and buttermilk or yogurt. Turn the dough onto a floured surface, knead 1 minute and shape into a disk.
Cut an X in the top and bake on a greased baking sheet for 45 to 50 minutes.
Makes one 8-inch-wide loaf.
Note: I love to serve this bread with lemon curd. So good.
– Recipe from Family Fun magazine