10 Must-Try Greek Lent Recipes

10 Must-Try Greek Lent Recipes

The Lenten fast, referred to as 'Sarakosti', is a period of spiritual preparation leading up to Easter, which is the most important feast in the Greek Orthodox Church.

The rules regarding fasting can vary slightly among different Orthodox traditions, but the general principle is to abstain from certain foods as a form of spiritual discipline. Seafood such as octopus, calamari, shrimp and other shellfish are generally permitted during this period, whereas meat and meat by-products such as cheese, butter, and eggs are not.  

Of course, Lenten Greek recipes can be enjoyed by anyone throughout the year, regardless of whether they are observing a fast or not. The following recipes offer a delectable taste of Mediterranean cuisine, providing a variety of healthy meal options and serving as a delightful addition to your culinary repertoire.

1. Stuffed Tomatoes (Gemista)

A classic Greek dish that can be made with or without meat. The meatless version typically consists of rice, aromatic herbs, spices and other ingredients, stuffed inside hollowed-out tomatoes and baked until tender. 

Baked tomatoes have a unique appeal that many find irresistible. The baking process intensifies their sweetness and softens the tomatoes, giving them a tender and succulent texture.

If you're not a big fan of baked tomatoes, this versatile dish lends itself to creative variations using a range of other seasonal vegetables, such as, peppers, zucchini, and aubergine. 

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2. Spinach & Rice (Spanakorizo)

This recipe is packed with goodness! Fresh spinach, green onions, and dill contribute vibrant flavours and aromas, enhancing its overall taste and appeal. The freshly squeezed lemon juice added just before serving is the final touch to this simple recipe that elevates the entire dish.

High-quality extra virgin olive oil is a key ingredient and is often used to sauté the vegetables and coat the rice, adding richness and depth of flavour.

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3. Fried Calamari

Fried calamari is enjoyed for its crispy texture and tender interior, and can be served as an appetiser, side dish, or even as a main course.

Frying in extra virgin olive oil is considered a hallmark of traditional Greek cooking and is often believed to contribute to the superior taste of the food. I couldn't agree more and absolutely love to fry my calamari in Extra Virgin Olive Oil - such a treat!

Once served I opt for a squeeze of lemon over any dipping sauce, as emphasising simplicity allows the natural flavours of the high-quality ingredients to shine through. 

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4. Octopus in Tomato Sauce with Pasta 

This dish's popularity may vary depending on the region and personal preferences, but for those who enjoy seafood and Mediterranean cuisine, Greek octopus with pasta can offer a delightful variation.

The octopus adds a unique seafood flavour to the pasta, while the pasta itself provides a comforting base for the dish.

If preparing this dish yourself feels somewhat overwhelming, as it often does for me, consider trying it at a restaurant when you next get the chance, ideally in Greece for a more authentic experience. 

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5. Vegetable Bake (Briam)

This assortment of baked vegetables is beloved for its versatility and comforting appeal. It's a relatively simple dish to prepare and the baking allows for the flavours to meld together effortlessly. 

Briam evokes nostalgic memories of home-cooked meals and family gatherings at my grandmas house. Her scrumptious recipe is characterised by generous amounts of extra virgin olive oil that ties the dish together, and tends to serve it with freshly baked bread. 

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6. Green Beans (Fasolakia Ladera)

This recipe requires just a few basic ingredients and minimal cooking techniques. It's a dish that is nourishing yet light on the palate, and is the perfect choice for a meal that leaves you feeling satisfied without weighing you down. 

It pairs wonderfully with sourdough bread, olives and any type of delicious dip, such as taramosalata.

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7. Shrimp Orzo (Giouvetsi)

A mouthwatering dish that tantalises the taste buds with its rich flavours and hearty textures. Each bite is a delightful combination of savoury seafood and fragrant herbs.

Whether enjoyed as a comforting meal on a chilly evening or as a centrepiece for a special occasion, shrimp giouvetsi never fails to leave a lasting impression and satisfy the most discerning palates.

This has to be my favourite among these recipes!

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8. Fish Roe Dip (Taramosalata)

A creamy and savoury dip, ideal for spreading on bread or crackers, it's particularly suited to those who appreciate bolder flavours.

The roe lends a rich and briny flavour to the dip, while the olive oil adds smoothness and depth, and the lemon juice contributes a refreshing tang. I also like to incorporate a single garlic clove to give the dish a slight, pungent kick.

I tend to add a little bit more lemon and olive oil for a perfect balanced flavour and an extra smooth and velvety finish. My go to for this particular recipe is Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

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9. Pea Stew with Potatoes (Arakas Laderos)

A stew that requires minimal ingredients and is a great option to fall back on, especially for those times when inspiration for cooking is somewhat lacking.

This recipe features tender peas cooked in a flavourful tomato-based sauce, and can be whipped up using a few pantry staples and frozen peas.

Whether enjoyed on its own or paired with some crusty bread for dipping, the end result is a hearty meal that is sure to quench your appetite.

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10. Cabbage & Rice (Lahanorizo)

Lahanorizo presents another excellent choice for a light yet satisfying meal, boasting simplicity in preparation that makes it attainable for cooks of all levels. 

Once served, I like to drizzle with a touch of Early Harvest Extra Virgin Olive Oil for added richness. The robust notes compliment the tender sweetness of the cooked cabbage, enhancing its natural flavours and elevating the dish as a whole. 

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