Monday, February 19, was the start of “Clean Monday” or Καθξρα Δευτρρα - also known as Pure Monday, Ash Monday or Monday of Lent. Regardless of its name, it was the first day of Lent for Eastern Orthodox Christians.
Clean Monday will always fall on the 7th Monday before Pascha or Eastern Orthodox Easter and kicks off the holy season for our faith.
Last weekend my son, Connor, calls me from New York and asks me how to make fakass (lentil soup) for the start of Lent. I was so excited that he remembered Lent was about to begin, that he was preparing for it and that he wanted to make fakass as he has seen me do for so many years.
Conveniently enough, I told him to go to this blog and read the post from February 2015 - as the recipe was already here! Yet another reminder of why I like to have blog posts – hoping that one day it will help my nieces, nephews, sons, future nephews (daughters in-law) and friends.
As we were talking about lent and recipes we make during this period, another one he asked about and loves was yiyantes (oven-baked giant beans). How fun that a favorite is a vegetable! And we also discussed spanakorizo (spinach and rice) that is a favorite of my husband. He likes to kick it up a little by adding in tomatoes while my boys love it with lemon. Either way, both are tasty.
The flavors of Lent bring much joy to my family – and I hope they will to you.
As we say in Greek: Καλη Σαρακοστη, Happy 40 Days of Lent!
Yiyantes – Oven-Baked Giant Beans
1 bag of giant beans (like white large lima beans)
Water to soak and water to boil
3-4Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1c. chopped carrots
1c. chopped fresh parsley
½ bunch chopped dill (only if you like it – I’m not a fan, so I skip it)
4 cloves of fresh garlic, chopped
2-3 bay leaves
½ c. olive oil
5-6 medium tomatoes, pureed – or for convenience, 1 28oz can
First, soak the beans overnight. For the amount of beans – 4 cups, for example, use double the amount of water. In this case, 8 cups.
The next day, bring the soaked beans to a boil, cook until tender and drain.
Then, sauté in olive oil the onions, parsley, dill, carrots and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Add in bay leaves.
As the veggies soften, add the cooked beans, letting the flavors interact. Transfer the veggies/beans into a large baking pan. I love my large round enamel pan that I bought from my local Mediterranean import store.
Add in tomato puree and add 2 cups water. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350* for about an hour. Remove foil, cook about ½ hour or until nice golden-brown color appears. And there you go!
I would love to hear how your turns out. Cooking does not have to be exact you can always add, delete or insert a twist. This is what make it fun! Sometimes my mistakes are my best dishes!
Spanakorizo (spinach and rice)
2 bags fresh spinach
1 large onion, chopped
1c. white rice
¼ c. olive oil
1 can tomato 14 oz puree (like Dei Fratelli)
In a sauté pan on medium, sauté onion with olive oil, add spinach, salt and pepper and stir. Lower the temperature, add the rice, two cups of water and the tomatoes. Cover and simmer until rice is done – usually 20 minutes. Don’t like tomatoes like my boys? No worries, omit them and add ¼ cup of fresh