Delicious recipes for Christian Orthodox fasting

I am not religious at the slightest, but my brother’s family is. They were fasting during the first 15 days of August (Orthodox Christians usually fast before Christmas, Easter and leading to Mother Mary’s day). Greek Orthodox fasting disallows all blood animal products, meaning that eggs, dairy and meat from fish/birds/mammals are disallowed, but shellfish are allowed (because they have nothing that resembles red blood — obviously a convenient technicality even if the Bible mentions pork and shellfish as unclean in general). On Good Friday, olive oil is disallowed too.

As a kid I was forced to fast for Easter (usually just the week before), and I hated every minute of it (even if I loved the Easter time in general). Truth is, while my mother is an excellent cook, she has a limited repertoire when it comes to recipes and ingredients. She only wants to eat and cook the recipes passed to her by her mother. She is extremely closed-minded regarding new ingredients and tastes (I can easily picture her face of disgust when I mention mushrooms or shellfish, for example). This severely limited our tastes during the Holy Week, making it almost as unbearable (on purpose, I suppose) as the tortures Christ had to undergo for the week.

So here are some very nice recipes I have gathered that could really make the fasting time pleasant. They are all Mediterranean-inspired, and delicious, all carefully cooked by Kalofagas — a Canadian Greek cooking blogger. Some of the recipes might include some dairy elements, but these can easily be omitted without diminishing the taste of the dish.

Mussels Saganaki With Mustard. Omit the feta cheese. Great with mushroom wild rice.
Vegetarian pizza, with non-dairy (fasting) cheese (sold in some places in Greece). I did this twice for my brother and his wife in August. I used non-dairy hard cheese, bell peppers, chili peppers, tomatoes, olives, onions. Mushrooms are equally nice but unfortunately in my home area, Epirus, very few people trust mushrooms so I didn’t use them.
Prawns saganaki. I cooked this last night! It was delicious. Omit cream cheese.
Prawns Tourkolimano. Again, omit feta cheese.
Grilled Sesame Scallops. Great when served with some pasta or fries.
Tomato Fritters (omit the egg) and Kolokithokeftedes (again, use fasting cheese). Serve with a fasting dip, like the Macedonian Makalo (which is the Greek version of ketchup), or Hummus.
Tagliatelle With Zucchini, Tomato and Fresh Herbs. Add some stir-fried shellfish or mushrooms to make this recipe even better.
Potato Salad for Good Friday (no olive oil). And another potato salad too.
Vegetable soup.
Briam Florinis.
Thai Green Curry With Scallops & Shrimp. Might be a bit difficult to get all the ingredients in Greece.
Soup With Mussels and Ginger. Omit the heavy cream.
Greek Chickpea Soup. Substitute chicken stock with vegetable stock (note: not all vegetable stocks in the market are vegetarian).
Scallops Provencal.
Shrimp With Capers and Dill
Octopus and Pasta Bake
Cuttlefish Lemonato, and Artichokes a la Polita
Dolmades Gialantzi
Black-Eyed Pea Salad, and Octopus With Vinegar
Ladenia (Greek pizza)
Kampanoules With Peppers and Basil (omit the cheese)
Seafood Pasta
Shrimp With Mastiha liquer
Cuttlefish With Saffron and Potatoes
Melitzanosalata (Eggplant Salad)
Spanakorizo. Another local variety asks for more spinach, and some lemon too.
Rice salad
Shrimp Salad With Avocado and Pasta Shells
Roasted Red Pepper Dip
Imam Baildi
Rice Salad
Leonidio, Tsakones and Eggplant (replace feta cheese with tofu)
Fassoulotavas Makedonikos
Shrimp and Pasta

And of course, there are all the “normal” Greek fasting foods, ranging from bean soups to lentils (in this lentils recipe omit the sausage, and use olive oil), and from yemista (use some olive oil) to green beans (use some olive oil).

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