GREAT LENT, OR GREAT FAST, IS THE MOST IMPORTANT FASTING SEASON IN THE CHURCH YEAR IN THE EASTER ORTHODOX CHURCH, WHICH PREPARES CHRISTIANS FOR THE GREATEST FEAST OF THE CHURCH YEAR, PASCHA (EASTER).
In Greece, after three weeks of Apokries, aka the Greek version of carnival that involves costumes, parties, and parades, Greeks celebrate Clean Monday with outdoor activities, and, of course, delicious meat-less foods, suitable for the 40- day-long Lent. From plant-based meals to seafood and tasty desserts, Greek traditions during the period of Lent have a lot to… bring to the table!
Dolmadakia are stuffed vine leaves with rice and herbs, that are most usually consumed as appetizers and a side dish.
Some versions include raisins or nuts, so it is a rather versatile dish that can also be eaten cold.
Taramosalata, or Greek fish roe dip, is a creamy dip made of the cured eggs of fish (tarama), bread, lemon juice, onion, and olive oil. Based on the tarama color, the dip gets a beige or a pink color.
Greeks love to combine Taramosalata with ouzo, a Greek aperitif, and fish!
Fava is a dish originally made in Santorini, Greece, using yellow split peas mixed with onion, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and seasonings like cumin and thyme.
It is usually garnished with onions and capers and combined with warm pita bread.
Greeks have a love relationship with various kinds of pies, including spanakopita, aka spinach pie, a crispy pie with phyllo dough.
During Lent, many of them choose to eat the version that does not use cheese, so it is perfect for vegans too!
4. Shrimp saganaki with feta
During Spring and Summer months, tavernas in Greece serve this traditional delicacy that works as an appetizer.
Shrimps are deglazed in ouzo and get sautéed and then mixed with feta, veggies, and other ingredients like chilly pepper, that enrich the flavor.
Moustokouloura is the Greek name for Grape must cookies, that are made of grape molasses, named petimezi.
Moustokouloura do not contain any animal products, so they are a great option for the healthy eaters. They can be either soft or crunchy and go perfectly with Greek coffee.
7. Traditional Lagana
Lagana is a traditional sesame flatbread that Greeks eat only once in a year, on Clean Monday.
However, it can be eaten throughout the Lent, as it does not contain dairy products, and it sometimes include Mediterranean diet-friendly ingredients, such as tahini, olives, sun-dried tomatoes and herbs.
Last but not least, halva, which is actually a semolina pudding, is officially the Lenten dessert, that is free of butter, dairy, and eggs.
The rich texture, the natural aromas from the cinnamon, and the taste added by raisins and fruits, make halva Greeks’ go-to dessert during Lent.