- CLEMENTE LISI
David Geisser with essays by Scott Hahn
The Lenten Cookbook
Sophia Institute Press, USA, 2022
“It’s so much more than a cookbook. It’s a unique guide to meals during Lent that you can refer to for years to come. It’s also a way to incorporate food into your journey. of Lent while exploring new foods to eat.”
Lent is all about fasting. It is the abstinence from food that many Catholics take as part of their Lenten journey each March to perform penance for sin in preparation for Easter Sunday.
In my family, growing up, I abstained from meat on Fridays during the 40 days of Lent which extended from Ash Wednesday to Holy Week. Since Jesus sacrificed his flesh for all, we abstain from eating meat in his honor on Fridays. Instead, Catholics eat fish.
Since many Catholics – especially in America – are so carnivorous for much of the year, a new cookbook released just in time for Lent focuses on the very dilemma of what to eat the Friday of this month. The book by David Geisser and Scott Hahn The Lenten Cookbook serves up easy-to-prepare meals and is a great side volume for The Vatican Christmas Cookbook which was released in 2020.
If you enjoyed this marvelous volume, this one by award-winning chef and former Vatican Swiss Guard David Geisser will dazzle you with its simplicity. The book – loaded with 75 meatless recipes from around the world – will delight the palate and provide a variety of meals for families throughout Lent. Each recipe also comes with a Bible verse or quote from a saint – satisfying food for your soul and stomach.
The book also gives some of the stories and traditions behind some popular foods that Catholics like to eat at this time of year. It’s such historical context, like a section on “black fasting” that many will find instructive. Black fasting is, as the book notes, “the most rigorous form of fasting in church history.” Accordingly, only one meal can be taken per day. The person must also refrain from eating meat – in addition to eggs, butter, cheese and milk – and imbibing wine.
Recipes that work for those adhering to this form of fasting include Zucchini and Orange Salad, Butternut Squash Curry, and Spelled Walnut Bread. These recipes are extremely simple yet tasty, and that’s what matters most when you need something new to make.
The main courses section is where I decided to try my hand at something new that my family and I would like. Recipes for Cottage Cheese Frittata with Cucumber and Radish Dip, featured on page 141, are a hit with everyone in my family.
The other thing my kids would love is the Italian flatbread shown on page 157. The recipe includes olives, capers, and black pepper.
Many of us have discovered – and some have even rediscovered – what it means to spend more time with family. The pandemic forced us indoors for two years. During this period, the kitchen became a focal point because we had a lot more free time.
Lent, unlike Advent, has always been more about fasting and abstinence from food. While many of us spend most of that time focusing on what to eat on Easter Sunday, this book will help you find the joy and creativity that comes with the foods you can eat during this season. penitential.
In fact, unlike the Christmas edition, these recipes are practical. But like the Christmas version, this 214-page cookbook is also filled with beautiful photographs, plus Scripture and 50 pages of history from Bible scholar Scott Hahn.
“We are discovering once again that fasting and prayerful self-restraint in food choices in general need not be monastic or enforced a few times a year,” Hahn writes, “but it can be part of the arsenal daily for spiritual growth (and warfare) available to every Christian.
It’s more than a cookbook. This is a unique Lenten meal guide that can be relied on for years to come. It’s also a way to incorporate food into your Lenten journey while exploring new foods to eat.
Clemente Lisi is editor and regular contributor to Religion Unplugged. He is the former assistant news director at the New York Daily News and teaches journalism at King’s College in New York. Follow him on Twitter @ClementeLisi.
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