Clean Monday

Traditionally Greek
…also sometimes called Pure Monday is Orthodox’s beginning of Lent fasting, no meat and no cheese – basically vegan! I (personally) am going to try my hardest to participate; fasting from meat will be much easier than dairy for me. Meat here is really expensive anyway, but cheese, yogurt, milk, eggs…. what ever will I do?! 

Today there is also a special bread called “Lagana”. It is basically a flat bread topped with sesame seeds, but I am actually not so sure why it is special today. Maybe it is just from tradition, and tradition must cost a little bit extra too because this was double the price of normal bread.

Other than that, I decided to make lentils. They are a delicious, healthy, and quick soup to throw all together for a very satisfying meal.

Lentil Soup with Tomatoes Recipe:

1 1/4 cups green, brown lentils (the small variety) 
4 cups of hot water
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 T. EVOO
3-4 carrots, cleaned and sliced
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 T. tomato puree
1 tsp. Greek oregano
1 bay leaf
1/2 – 1 tsp. cumin
1/2 – 1 tsp. hot paprika
salt and pepper

Saute the onion in the oil on medium heat until translucent, then add the garlic, stirring until aromatic. While the onion is cooking, wash and soak the lentils in hot water, rise then add to the pot with the carrots and tomatoes. Stir a few times and then add the tomato paste/puree and the herbs. Pour over the hot water and bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for another 25-30 minutes. Serve with a splash of vinegar and some good crusty bread, maybe even a few olives and tomato slices.

Clean Monday is a very fun and celebrated day. When there is good weather, families spend time all together enjoying a picnic and flying kites. This year for us the weather was cold and almost raining, so we just enjoyed our family time and wonderful day off inside. The Saturday before Pure Monday, and sometimes Sunday too, there are also lots of Carnival parties. “Carnival” comes from the Latin meaning, without meat. This should be a time in preparation for the coming of Easter, but throughout tradition it has become custom for people to get all dressed up in costumes and indulge in life, mostly meaning food and alcohol I think. The last days of school all the kids show up in costumes and there is a huge party, I would say that it is very similar Halloween. In celebration of the last day before Lent, my wonderful husband took me out to a traditional taverna and we enjoyed the entire restaurant to ourselves with AMAZING food. I promise you that every bite we took was a pleasure to chew, and we left so full that it was borderline sinful 🙂

Enjoy some hearty lentils next time you don’t know what to cook for dinner, your body will thank you for all of its nutrients. And if you are fasting from something, whether it be food or something else, I pray strength and patience for you each and every step of the way. Remember, you are not alone!!!

PS. The hardest thing is not going to be skipping my morning lattes, but it will be looking and gawking at all the amazing other food bloggers that I follow! Luckily for you guys, I have saved some really great non-Lent recipes for you to share over the next 40 days!!!

Kali orexi. 


2 thoughts on “Clean Monday

  1. I am finishing off a bag of Robin eggs (our Easter is about sugar, very sad) and I am looking at your picture (the first one) thinking eeeewwww. The bread looked really good, then I looked at the ingredients and I thought hmm that looks pretty good! By then I was on too much of a sugar high to eat. Before that all day I only had gummy worms. Tomorrow I will try better. love, mom

  2. I LOVE lentil soup but didn't have a recipe of my own. I enjoy your others so this will be on our table this week!! Thanks for the suggestion!

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