Alternative dishes for Lenten Season: A contrast of flavors and emotions

The typical Easter menu certainly always start with a “vigil stew”: chickpeas, some beans, spinach and a boiled egg. The second course would be, no doubt, traditional cod fritters or cod stew. The dessert would be, of course, torrijas, those tasty fried bread slices coated with sugar and cinnamon. Delicious, right? All these dishes also have something in common: no meat in used during their preparation, as it corresponds to the Christian custom of Lent. From Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, enjoy 40 meatless days full of cereals, fish and vegetables that have resulted in many other traditional recipes that have little to do with the now classic Easter dishes of stew, fritters and torrijas that are so widely consumed at this time of the year. Do you want to try other typical Easter dishes? They are not as well known but are equally tasty…

sopa de ajo

In this alternative menu, you will not find, of course, the delicious taste of cod. However, you will be able to find other kind of exciting tastes and aromas, starting with garlic, which gives name and savor to some of the most humble Castilian soups. No wonder there is a saying that goes “nobody was ever poisoned with garlic soup,” right? In order to prepare it, you just need some olive oil, paprika, a loaf of hard bread and one egg that is added at the end of the cooking process so that it is lightly poached. This is at least the garlic soup recipe that is consumed as breakfast after the cold nights during the Holy Week in Zamora or Palencia. During the rest of the year, you can also add some ham and bacon to the original recipe, but that is another matter. “Seven virtues have soups, they take away hunger, thirsty they make you little; they make you sleep and digest; never annoying and always pleasing; and they will give you a red face.” Can you think of a better dish?

Hornazo - Salamanca

Meanwhile, in the neighboring city of Salamanca, tradition has it that, precisely during Lent, King Philip II made all prostitutes leave town and move to the other side of the Tormes River. On Easter Monday, once the Lent time was over, the University students crossed the river to bring them back to the city and they all ate hornazo together by the river. This was their special way of welcoming them, with a meat pie filled with the best products of Salamanca, such as pork loin, chorizo sausage, bacon and ham. Iberian flavors of cured meat and dough baked at low heat, a hearty and meaty delicacy that is perfect to put an end to the Lent Season. This tradition, known as Lunes de Aguas, is still celebrated with a meal in the countryside but with a more familiar and friendly character. Luckily, you can enjoy this specialty all year round in most bakeries in Salamanca.

Tortillitas camarones

However, there are other places in Spain where they prefer to eat only meat, and some others where they like their bread prepared in a special way. In Valencia, for example, people love to nibble typical Easter sausages, also known as longanizas de Pascua on Easter Monday. They are made with lean pork meat and they are very thin, just a finger thick, and very long, up to 30 cm! They have an incredibly delicate flavor thanks to the spices that they use to season the meat. Those who prefer bread, they should visit Aragon, where the most popular Easter recipe is migas a la pastora, which is prepared with simple but good ingredients that make up a delicious hearty dish. You only need hard bread, olive oil and garlic. Precisely, fried bread and dough are kind of fundamental in Lent dishes. The best example is cod fritters. In Cadiz, they have their own version of this dish: instead of cod, they use shrimps, one of the most valued seafood in the area. Yes, Cadiz famous shrimp fritters or tortillitas de camarones are very similar to cod fritters but with an Andalusian twist to it.

Pestiños

Do you still have room for dessert? If you are looking for an alternative to the delicious and fluffy torrijas, honey-coated fritters or pestiños are the best choice since they stand out beautifully thanks to their rough and very crispy texture. They are merely a piece of flour dough shaped like a bow tie, deep fried in very hot olive oil and glazed honey. In some places, they sprinkle some sugar on top to make them even more delicious. Its main feature is the delicate sesame flavor of the dough. There are as many ways to prepare them as villages in southern Andalusia. You will find the most typical pestiños in the famous confectioneries of Medina Sidonia and Chiclana de la Frontera in Cadiz. Irresistible, right? Well, this time of the year is also perfect to enjoy delicious rice pudding in Asturias, fried milk in Cantabria, or crespells in Majorca. Children from the Balearic Islands love these cookies! Are you going to miss these Easter delicacies? What is your favorite dish for Lent Season? Will you miss eating meat?