10 Italian meals ideas to obseve Lent in a relaxed way

I’ve already told you that most Italians are catholic (even though the number of atheists has increased a lot lately), and because of our historic legacy with Vatican, Italians have grown up being taught mainly Catholicism. I am catholic as well, and I do observe fasting from meat starting from Ash Wednesday and every following Fridays until Easter, so I would like to share with you some of my favorite recipes that I prepare to make sure my family follows this religious tradition every year. These recipes will make your menu appealing (and different from the boring “FISH AND CHIPS”) even for your possible guests or member of the family that doesn’t follow any religious rule, without spending a fortune, and variating from seafood to vegetarian dishes.. I would add that skipping meat every now and then is also very healthy, so even if you don’t plan to follow Lent fast, well, you may enjoy this “meat free” list anyway!

1. TUNA FISHBALLS : Easy, fast, kids friendly and perfect for a cold lunch or light supper. 2. TUNA PASTA SALAD  : Fill the bellies of those more hungry with a delicious and fresh pasta, ready in 20 minutes, light and cheap.

3. OVEN BAKED SALMON: Baked in twenty minutes, kids friendly, super tasty and healthy.

4. BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND PORCINI RISOTTO: make sure you use vegetable stock and here you go a filling meal, perfectly suitable for a fancy  “meat free” dinner.

5. WHITE WINE RISOTTO: If you are fond of “risotto”, this options is absolutely perfect even if you promised to give up drinking alcohol for Lent. All the wine will evaporate while cooking, but the risotto will keep the wine aftertaste. And if you need to review the rules for a perfect risotto, give a quick look here.

6. EGGPLANT LASAGNA: you will load your plate with a scrumptious “meat and carbs free” entrée, and enjoy it to the very last bite.

7. CAULIFLOWER AU GRATIN: Another delicious way to bake veggies in a healthy way and that will conquer even the more demanding palates.

8. ITALIAN COLORS SANDWICH: In case you need a meal to go, this sandwich is perfect and delicious, and, obviously, meat free. 9. ITALIAN BRUSCHETTA: while watchin a sports match, or just on a lazy (cooking free) Friday night. 10. VEGETABLE SOUP, BUTTERNUT SOUP, PORCINI SOUP, LEEKS SOUP: Very good for detoxing, energizing, fasting, of course soups are always a smart meal to warm up yourself and stay light.

I could go ahead and list more menu ideas, but first I would like to know if you found this one useful at all… Did you? If you’d like more Italian idea for a good “meat free meal” just leave a comment, and I will collect more good recipes just for you! 

Talk to you soon!

Silvia

VEGETABLE SOUP: How to wash away all that sugar we devoured with Halloween Candies!

It happens that after some specific periods of the year (i.e. Halloween) our body just begs for a purification from candies and sugar in general….

In my case that request is followed with not so much effort, considering that I love vegetable soup, and fortunately all my family does too- even the little ones!  It’s a great way to get them to eat more veggies!So, whether you want to help rid your body of the sugar, or warm up with a hot bowl of soup on a cold autumn day, or get more veggies in your diet, just add this vegetable soup to your diet twice a week.  Believe me, you’ll be amazed how much you will like this healthy meal!

INGREDIENTS for a 1/2 gallon pot

2 leeks (only the white part, you can save the green part to make homemade broth)

1 big carrot

1 or 2 stalks of celery

4 zucchini (medium size)

1 handful of chopped frozen (or fresh) spinach (this time I used some fresh bok choy leaves instead)

2 potatoes (medium size)

1/4 butternut squash

2 tbs. olive oil

sea salt  to taste

any other herbs or spices you think you would like

1/2 tbs. powdered vegetable bouillon (you can find it in the organic compartment at the grocery store)

parmesan cheese (for dusting)

1/2 gallon of water

DIRECTIONS

I was taught that when you cook vegetables, it is always better to use a steel pot or pan, because steel lets the vegetables cook without leaching all their precious properties. I always use a big steel pot, so I am sure to have enough soup to eat all week, and if there are leftovers, I freeze them. To cook the vegetable soup takes no more than 30 minutes, but you’ll need a little bit of extra time before, to chop the veggies.  Start by washing and cutting all of your vegetables.  I remove the peel of the carrot, potatoes, and squash, but leave the peel on the zucchini.  Next heat about 2 tbs. of olive oil in the pot on medium heat.  Add the leeks, and cook until browned.

Then add the chopped carrot and celery and again wait a little until they brown with the leeks.  Stir a few times.

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Then add the chopped zucchini, potatoes and butternut squash, spinach (or bok choy leaves), and the vegetable broth seasoning.

Let the vegetables cook few minutes and then add to the water some salt and any other spices or herbs you think you would like to use.

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Cover the pot with the lid and as soon as the water starts boiling, put the pot at lower heat for not more than 30 minutes.

Your soup is ready!    Actually, since my daughters don’t like the pieces of vegetables,  before to serve the soup I blend it using an immersion blender, to make it nice and creamy…

Isn’t that easy?

LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

TIPS: – What is really great about this soup is that you can make it anytime of the day, and just reheat it before your meal.

           -Even if I prefer my soup plain (or just with a dust of parmesan cheese),  when dinner time comes close I usually cook inside the soup some small pasta (i.e. rigatini, small soup shells, or Acini di pepe) so it will be more sustaining for the rest of the members of the family (men’s bellies are not so easy to fill up!) 😉

            – If you are in a hurry and don’t have time to cook the pasta in the soup before dinner, just serve it with croutons… Oh my! It is soooo delicious  (but of course, maybe less light 😉 );

          – If you are following an “only protein” or “low carb” diet, you’ll find out that except for the potatoes (and the pasta or croutons, of course), the vegetables used in this recipe are all allowed! Considering that I eat a ton of vegetable soup especially in the cold seasons, I usually skip the use of potatoes, and prefer to add to my soup more zucchini or squash to make it more dense.

          – If kept refrigerated, your soup should last one week. I usually freeze it in small containers, so each time I can thaw just the quantity I need.

Vegetable soup

I really hope you like this recipe, and please, if you do,

share it, like it, leave a comment, and subscribe to receive a new recipe each week for free,

and help support my blog!

Much thanks,

Silvia