One of the ways that I “survive” fasting during Greek Lent is by enjoying a diet of shellfish. Shellfish do not have blood and therefore they are acceptable sustenance during the 49 day fasting period.
I do not fast for the full 49 days but I do fast on the first and final week (Megali Evdomada) of Lent. The first dish is so simple that one really can’t call it recipe. What do you call it when you pour a few glugs of olive oil in a skillet, watch for the oil to just smoke and then add the slices of garlic, Greek boukovo (dry chillis) and the whole shrimp? I call it “garides skordato” or simply, garlic shrimp.
You need high heat, thinly sliced cloves of garlic (we’re talking about 6 cloves), some heat in the Boukovo and a quick saute, a 1/2 cup of dry white wine and after a short, one simmer simmer, pour the sizzling shrimp into a platter and garnish with some chopped fresh parsley.
Look at that sauce! You’d think there’s some tomatoes or paprika in the mix but it’s colour is rendered from the shrimp alone. Simply gorgeous – always delicious!
The next dish is a “must have” in every Greek home during Lent and it’s Taramasalata. Taramasalata is made from the roe of carp and in Greece there are many choices and quality offered but the two main categories are a white and red tarama. The white tarama is the more expensive of the two.
In Greece, what with it’s larger selection of goods on offer, I always gravitate to the taramasalatas that have a hint of smoke in their flavour. Here in Toronto, I can think of maybe three brands of raw tarama that are offered at the Greek grocer, none of which have this smoky finish on the palate
To emulate this favoured tarama flavour, I add a few dashes of liquid smoke into the taramasalata when it’s being whipped in the food processor. Most taramasalatas are either made with soaked white bread or boiled potatoes. There’s no right or wrong way to make it, it simply follows along family tradition and tastes. I first introduced my family’s taramosalata during last year’s Lent and you can view the recipe here.
The third and final recipe in today’s trio are Dolmades Gialantzi. This vegetarian version of Dolmades is the original version…containing no meat. Many families (such as my own) have the meat version more than this but don’t think that these aren’t in any way delicious.
Quality grape vine leaves (mine were hand-picked last year and jarred), fresh herbs imperative. If buying grape vine leaves from a store, taste them to see how briny they are. You may want to soak them in water for 1o-15 minutes to remove some of the salt.
Dolmades Gialantzi are another “staple” during Lent. When one is thrusted into a diet that contains no meat, meat by-product, cheese or eggs…a filler like Domades is most welcome!
Again, my mom’s preferred method of cooking Dolmades is in the oven (many cook them in a pot). She taught me to cook Dolmades in the oven, who am I to cross my mom?
(makes 50-60, 5 per person)
1 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups of chopped onions, fine dice
1 cup of scallions, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
1/2 chop copped fresh parsley
4 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint
1 cup of long grain rice
salt and pepper to taste
juice of 1Â lemon
Enough water to just cover your dolmades
Pre-heated 350F oven
- If using fresh leaves, scald them in hot water, drain well. If using jarred leaves, drain rinse and if too salty for your tastes, soak in cool water for 10-15 minutes and drain.
- Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl (except the lemon juice) and adjust seasoning (salt, pepper, herb ratio) to your liking.
- Lay out a leaf on a flat work surface with the stem-side in, place a tsp of the mixture at the bottom, fold the outside parts of the lead inward, the roll up to form a cigar shape.
- Place some of the leaves on the bottom of the roasting pan and place the dolmades inÂ outward radiating circles.
- Add the lemon juice and enough water to just cover your dolmades and place in your pre-heated oven for one hour. Allow to cool before serving.
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