Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lenten Meals Made Easy

If you're busy running a tight ship at the office or at home, then you know how hard it is to make quick, Lenten-friendly meals for the family.  As a Greek Orthodox Christian, it's made even more difficult by the fact that we abstain from all meat and dairy for 40 days.  If you are doing the strict fast, it gets harder as the weeks go on.  I will spend the next 40 days blogging about the meals I create during Lent and will add the recipes accordingly.  I'm not going to promise that they are ALL easy..but..most days I'm coaching soccer, planting my organic garden, working in my office, and taking care of I try to make it short, healthy, and simple.

I hope you enjoy today's recipe!

What you will need:

Large potatoes (1 for each family member if you eat a lot)
Broccoli (raw or steamed)
Artichoke (I always make 2)
Fresh-herbs (I use whatever is in my garden...right now it's rosemary, Greek oregano, mint, and cilantro)
1 Lemon
Lemon zest ( 1/3 cup)
Salt and Pepper (to taste) (Personally, I don't use salt at all.)

Here's what's for dinner tonight...

Twice Broccoli-Baked Potato

Clean your potato and cook in the oven at 400 degrees for 45 minutes.  Cut the potato down the middle and scoop out all of the insides.  Keep the whole peeling.  Put potato whites in a bowl and mix in steamed or fresh broccoli.  I only use the tops and not the stems.  If you are not fasting from butter, add butter to the mix.  Stir until until it's nice and chunky.  Stuff your mixture back into the peeled part of the potato with a spoon.

Side note:  (I do not add butter..I mix together 4 tablespoons of balsamic or raspberry vinegar (any flavor you like) with 1 tsp. of lemon and cilantro in a blender as a dressing.  Add pepper and salt to taste.)

Place potato back into the oven at 200 degrees to warm for 10 minutes.  Serve!

(You can cook the potato in advance and keep it in the fridge at the beginning of the week.  Reheat in the microwave until soft and do as listed above.)

 Herb-infused Artichokes

Take artichokes and cut the stem off of the bottom so it stands up straight.  Cut the tops off (I use kitchen shears) to make the top flat.  You can also remove the tips of each artichoke leaf to make them softer.

Boil water with 2 tsp. of salt and juice from 1 large lemon.  Place artichokes face up into the boiling water.  Zest the lemon and set it aside.  Drop the remainder of the lemon into the boiling water.  Boil for 25 minutes or until soft.

Take out artichokes and drain.  Scoop out the middle of the artichokes with a spoon and discard.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Take the herbs (whatever you have that is fresh) and place at the bottom of a steamer.  Place artichokes on top of the herbs and use the remainder of the herbs (chopped finely) into the grooves of the leafs. Add the lemon zest on top.  Steam for another 20-25 minutes.  (note: you can also place the artichokes in the oven for 25 minutes for a slightly harder texture.  It's best to drizzle olive oil over the top before seasoning if you're putting it in the oven.)

Remove from steamer and serve!

May you all enjoy a blessed Lenten meal this evening with your family.  In the meantime, I have to pick up the kiddo and go Coach soccer practice!

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