Showing posts with label Lent. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lent. Show all posts

Fettuccine with baby eggplant, zucchini in diced tomato sauce

I just love pasta. I could have it every day. As I was shopping through the grocery store the other day, I thought I'd buy some fettuccine and come up with a recipe to use it. I got tired of the same spaghetti and meat sauce dish. I know I have experimented with Shrimp and Artichoke Hearts with Gluten Free Pasta, Pasta with chicken sausage and butternut squash, or my Eggplant and Penne with Bechamel Sauce - Greek Style, but I needed something different and something quick. I already had the baby eggplant and the zucchini in my fridge, so I came back from the grocery store and since it was time for dinner, I began preparing this dish. It was easy, fast, and within an hour I had dinner on the table. My husband and I loved it. For some reason the fettuccine gave it a different texture/flavor if you will, than the same ordinary spaghetti. So go ahead make it for yourselves. You will enjoy every bit of it. (PS--this is also a nice dish for Lent).

Ingredients (Makes 4 servings – appr. 12oz ea)
8 oz. Fettuccine Noodles
4 oz. baby eggplant
8 oz. zucchini
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 tsp. chopped garlic
2 tbsp. tomato sauce
14 1/2 oz. diced tomatoes
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Cook the fettuccine according to the package directions.

Wash and dice the eggplant and the zucchini (please note that the weight is with the vegetables whole not diced). Dice the onion, chop the garlic and the parsley. Set aside.

In a large saute pan, saute the diced onion and garlic. Add the diced vegetables, the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce, the water and the chopped parsley. Add the salt and pepper. Lower the heat and simmer for about 15-20 minutes till the vegetables are tender but not mushy (they will also cook more when you add the fettuccine noodles. When the pasta is ready drain it and add the pasta to the vegetable sauce. Toss well, sprinkle with pecorino romano cheese and serve. An easy dish that only takes 45 minutes to make. Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 11.027 oz (312.6g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 190
Calories from Fat 71
Total Fat 7.9g
Saturated Fat 1.1g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 348mg
Potassium 550mg
Total Carbohydrates 26.9g
Dietary Fiber 3.6g
Sugars 5.5g
Protein 5.2g

Vegetarian Lasagna with white sauce or Bechamel sauce

This is a nice vegetarian dish that you can make even during Lent.  You can substitute the lasagna noodles with gluten free lasagna noodles.  You can also omit the mushrooms.  My daughter doesn't like mushrooms, so if I make this dish when she is coming over for dinner, I will omit the mushrooms altogether.  Enjoy!

Ingredients (Makes 12 servings appr. 8.5 oz each serving)
8 oz. lasagna noodles
3 tbs. olive oil
1 cup diced onions
1 tbs. chopped garlic
1 cup diced carrots
8 oz. mushrooms
12 oz. frozen spinach defrosted and drained of all the water
16 oz. cottage cheese
2 eggs
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
3 ¼ cup shredded mozzarella

White sauce or Bechamel sauce
3 tbs. butter
3 tbs. flour
3 cups skim milk
½ cup parmesan
¼ tsp. nutmeg

Cook the lasagna noodles according to package directions.  When cooked drain the water and set aside to cool. 
In the meantime, peel and wash the onions and carrots.  Dice them and set them aside.  Peel and dice the garlic.  In a large sauce pan, add the olive oil and sauté the diced onions and garlic. Add the diced carrots, mushrooms and spinach. Season to taste.  Remove from heat, let it cool, then add the cottage cheese, eggs and 1 cup shredded mozzarella. Set aside.

Make the white sauce:
In a pan, melt the butter and add the flour, to make a roux.  While stirring with a whisk add the milk and nutmeg, and continue cooking till it thickens, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and add the ½ cup Parmesan. Mix  well together and set it aside.

Layer the lasagna, by putting some of the white sauce on the bottom of a 13x9 oven proof pan, then the lasagna noodles, the spinach filling, some of the white sauce, and repeat. On top finish with noodles, white sauce and 2 and ¼ cups shredded mozzarella. Bake at 350° F for about an hour till the cheese is all melted and it’s heated through.  Remove from the oven and let it cool before serving. 

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 serving (235.8 g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 321
Calories from Fat 151
Total Fat 16.8g
Saturated Fat 8.4g
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 73mg
Sodium 562mg
Total Carbohydrates 21.2g
Dietary Fiber 1.3g
Sugars 4.8g
Protein 21.7g

 The stuffing

The layers with the stuffing....

.....and the noodles....

....with the shredded mozzarella before it goes in the oven

The final product... ready to eat.  Enjoy!

Lentil Soup

While I was growing up in Greece, my mother prepared meatless dishes during the week and made dishes with chicken, pork or beef tenderloin on a Sunday. Sunday was a special meal. The whole family looked forward to it. We all gathered around the table, to enjoy any type of meat with some kind of vegetable or starch, that my mother had prepared (like the roasted chicken with potatoes - Roasted Chicken with Potatoes in the oven) one of my first posts. Living in the US, I’m trying to incorporate that same principle that my mother had, by trying to cook meatless dishes during the week, and enjoying meat on a Sunday. Sometimes I accomplish that, but other times it’s quite difficult.

Lentil soup is a common dish to prepare during Lent. This year, Greek Easter falls on May 5th thus our Lent period is still on. It began on March 18th and it will last till our Easter Sunday which is seven weeks from March 18th. Our Easter follows the Julian calendar and should not coincide with Easter of other faiths. During Lent, strict food restrictions apply. According to our Greek Orthodox customs, meat, fish or poultry is forbidden to eat (except crustaceans) even dairy and olive oil. The only two days that we are allowed to eat fish is March 25th (Fried Cod in Beer Batter) when we celebrate our Greek Independence Day and the Annunciation of Virgin Mary (or Evangelismos of Theotokos - pronounced: E-van-geh-lee-zmos of Thee-ott-oh-kos), and on Pam Sunday.

Living away from the Mother country is always difficult to establish these rules. As hard as I try, there are days that I will have to skip the tradition and end up cooking a dish with meat. Lentil soup is easy and fast to make, and since my family likes it, I cook it often during Lent.


Makes 8 servings (approximately 15 oz each or 2 cups per serving)

½ cup olive oil
¾ cup chopped onion
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 ¼ cup sliced carrots
1 lbs lentils (16 oz)
8 cups water
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
15 oz can tomato sauce
1 tsp salt
½ tsp cumin
2 tbsp chopped parsley
4 bay leaves

Wash the lentils and remove and foreign objects, like tiny rocks that might have escaped into the package. Set aside.

In a Dutch oven, over high heat, pour the ½ cup olive oil. Add the chopped onions and garlic. Sauté till transparent. Add the sliced carrots and the lentils. Add the tomato sauce, the diced tomatoes,salt, cumin, chopped parsley, bay leaves and the 8 cups of water. Let it come to a boil, lower the heat and let it simmer for one hour. Remove from heat. Before serving remove the bay leaves.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
15.613 oz (442.6g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 344
Calories from fat 122
Total Fat 13.5g
Saturated Fat 1.9g
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 596mg
Total Carbohydrates 42.1g
Dietary Fiber 19.4g
Sugars 6.1g
Protein 16.2g

Baked Butter Beans

Here is a vegetarian dish that I learned from my mother in law.  You will notice that I don’t cook too many meats.  I try to stay away from red meat as much as possible.  On occasion, during summer, I might grill a steak on the BBQ.  A couple of times during the week, I will make dishes without any chicken or pork.  That is also very common in Greek cooking.  The Greek diet does not consist of the three food categories, as is with the American diet.  It is very common here to have the three food groups, meat, starch and vegetable, than it is in the Greek diet.  There are plenty of vegetarian dishes that are rich in protein without having to eat red meat.  An example of that is the baked butter beans.  Beans are also rich in fiber. 

Butter beans are bigger in size than cannellini beans.  They are also meatier, if that’s the correct word.  I went a step further and simplified this dish by using canned butter beans instead of dried butter beans.  Dried butter beans have to be soaked in water overnight, and then cooked for a couple of hours before they come into the soft consistency as the canned beans.  It’s a lot easier to open up a can of butter beans than cooking dried beans.  I make sure and rinse the canned beans under cold water so any sodium will be washed away.  This way I have control of how much salt I can put in the meal.  I still take it easy with the salt, since no matter how much you rinse them off, some of it still stays with the beans. 

You can enjoy this vegetarian dish with a side salad; try a salad with my Ranch dressing with Greek yogurt and some fresh bread.  Then your meal is complete.  

Baked Butter beans

Six servings (approximately 15 oz per serving)

1 cup diced onion

½ cup olive oil

½ cup parsley chopped

1 cup sliced carrots

1 cup diced celery

3 15 oz cans butter beans

1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes

1 cup tomato sauce

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1 cup water.

Turn oven to 350 degrees Farhenheit. Peel, wash and dice the onion. Set aside. Clean and slice the carrots. Dice the celery. Chop the parsley. Open up the cans of butter beans and rinse under cold water to get rid of any extra sodium.

In an ovenproof pan, add all the vegetables along with the butter beans and the olive oil. Add the salt, pepper, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and water. Stir with a spoon to coat everything evenly. Place the pan in the oven. Let it bake for an hour to an hour and a half. All the liquid will be absorbed and the top will be lightly browned and crisp. Remove from the oven, and serve.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 15.764oz(446.9g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 447
Calories from Fat 182
Total Fat 20.2g
Saturated Fat 3.0g
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 656mg
Total Carbohydrates 53.2g
Dietary Fiber 13.4g
Sugars 8.8g
Protein 16.6g

Greek Style Seafood with Herbs and Vegetables

Since it's Lent I'm trying to cook dishes that are free of meat or chicken.  Fish is allowed on certain days of the week. Enjoy this hearty seafood soup.  If not during Lent, during a cold rainy day.

10 servings (approximately 1 ½ cups per serving)

½ cup olive oil
1 cup onion chopped
1 tsp garlic chopped
2 cups celery diced
1 ½ cups carrots diced
4 cups potatoes diced
1 cup chopped parsley
1 lbs cod fillets diced
1 lbs large shrimp
1 15oz can tomato sauce
1 14oz can diced tomatoes
2 15oz cans water + 1 extra 15oz can water
2 tsps. salt
1 tsp. ground pepper
3 bay leaves
¼ tsp cumin
In a Dutch oven, over high heat pour the ½ cup olive oil. Add the chopped onions and garlic. Sauté, until transparent. Add the carrots, celery, and potatoes. Sauté for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables absorb some of the oil. Add the tomato sauce, the diced tomatoes, the two 15oz cans of water, the parsley, salt, pepper, bay leaves, and cumin. Let it come to a boil. Then, turn down the heat to medium and simmer for about one hour until the potatoes are cooked. If you need to add more water, then add the extra 15oz can of water. Depending on what size you diced the potatoes you might need the extra can of water so that the potatoes are cooked.

Towards the last five (5) minutes, add the fish and the shrimp. Let it come to a boil and lower the heat for the last 5 minutes. The fish should be flaky and the shrimp pink colored. Turn off the heat. Serve with some fresh bread.

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size  1serving(389.1 g) approximately 1 ½ cups
Amount Per Serving
Calories 267
Calories from Fat 109
Total Fat 12.1g
Saturated Fat 1.8g
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 113mg
Sodium 853mg 3
Total Carbohydrates 17.7g
Dietary Fiber 4.0g
Sugars 5.3g
Protein 22.5g

Italian cut Green Beans in tomato sauce

Don't be confused by the name "Italian cut." This type of bean is very common in Greece. You will most likely find these in Greece, rather than the string green beans. 

Since Lent has begun for both the Catholic and the Orthodox Church, it is common for believers to give up certain foods this time of the year. Greek Orthodox though have a more strict Lent practice than Catholics. Catholics can have fish on Friday where Greek Orthodox on the other hand, has a stricter fast. During Lent, fish, meat, poultry, and even dairy are not permitted (unless someone has specific diet needs and is instructed by his/her doctor. In that situation the priest forgives or rather allows the individual to eat what his diet needs are).

Every year, while I was growing up, I watched my mother follow a very ascetic fast for 40 days prior to our Greek Orthodox Easter. She tried to make dishes that were rich in flavor but without the meat. The green beans in tomato sauce are very rich in flavor. The use of flat leaf parsley gives it a savory and aromatic taste without the bitterness the curly leaf parsley has. The flat leaf is very common in Greece, whereas the curly leaf is not quite popular there.

You can find flat leaf parsley in any supermarket or fresh produce market. It is usually called Italian flat leaf parsley. This dish is great if you want to abstain from meat one day a week; for those who want to give up meat products for Lent, and for strict vegetarians. Serve it along with some fresh crusty Italian bread and you have yourself a healthy meal.

Italian cut green beans in tomato sauce             

Six (6) servings

½ cup olive oil
½ cup diced onion (1 medium sized onion)
2 tsp chopped garlic (about 2 cloves)
2 12oz bags frozen Italian cut green beans
1 15oz can diced tomatoes
1 15oz can tomato sauce
1 15oz can water
½ cup chopped parsley
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground pepper

In a Dutch oven sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil till transparent.  Add the frozen green beans along with the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce.  Add the one can of water.  Add the chopped parsley, salt and pepper.  Stir all the ingredients together.  Let it come to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally.  Simmer for 45 minutes to one (1) hour until the beans are tender.  Serve warm. 

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size                                         12.007oz(340.4g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories                                                            224
Calories from Fat                                  166                  % Daily Value*
Total Fat                                               18.4g                           28%
Saturated Fat                                       2.6g                             13%
Cholesterol                                           0mg                             0%
Sodium                                                 580mg                         24%
Total Carbohydrates                             14.7g                           5%
Dietary Fiber                                         5.5g                             22%
Sugars                                                 6.6g
Protein                                                 3.6g