The Lenten season has officially started, and many Catholics will again begin fasting and abstaining for the next 40 days. Luxuries like desserts, comfort foods, and alcoholic beverages will be given up again during this season.
It’s also common for Filipino Catholics to give up eating meat throughout Lent in observance of days of fasting and abstinence. If you love meat in your dishes, planning your menu can be tricky. But the good news is that there are many delicious Holy Week food that you can prepare, with seafood and vegetables as the main ingredients.
What is Lent, and Why is Meat Not Allowed on Good Friday?
For Catholics, Lent, also known as cuaresma in Spanish, is a 40-day season of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends at sundown on Holy Thursday. It's a period of preparation to celebrate the Lord's Resurrection at Easter.
Because the Lenten season is about penitence, the Catholic Church sets Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of Lent as days of penance. Catholics are obliged to observe Ash Wednesday fasting and to abstain from eating meat on Fridays for their Holy Week fasting.
No Meat Holy Week Food Ideas
Getting your Holy Week food menu sorted out early on can help you focus your energies on the true purpose of Lent, which is repentance. If you still have no idea what to cook or what to eat this Holy Week, here are some Holy Week food menu ideas to get you started.
Fare from the Sea
Seafood is actually a pretty versatile ingredient and goes well with a variety of spices and vegetables. Barring that anyone among your friends and family’s actually allergic to seafood , there are a lot of dishes beyond the usual fried fish or sinigang that you can try.
This is one of the easiest and tastiest dishes that you can prepare this Lenten season. Not only is tilapia readily available at the supermarket or fresh market, adding coconut milk to it instantly elevates its taste.
You can opt to fry the tilapia first for that extra crunch, or you can cook it in the coconut milk itself. Add green chili peppers and your favorite green leafy vegetables like spinach, pechay, or malunggay leaves.
Halabos na Hipon
Want a Lent food idea that’s delicious but uncomplicated to cook? Make sure to add halabos na hipon to your Holy Week food list. All you need are good-quality shrimps, a little bit of salt, and some water. That’s it!
Of course, you can always put your own spin to this beloved dish. Instead of using water, you can use soda like 7-Up or Sprite. Add some garlic powder, too, for that extra bold flavor.
This is another great Holy Week food idea because it’s tasty and so easy to make. Just make sure to buy salmon filets so you can easily prep them and slip them in the oven.
A baked salmon dish is also perfect for busy people who have no time to cook. Just squeeze some lemon juice, sprinkle with salt and pepper (or any other spices you prefer), add a slice of butter, and then put in the oven for 15 minutes. Voila! Instant delicious and high-quality meal.
If you’re tired of fried tilapia or grilled tilapia, you can make a restaurant-worthy dish by doing it how the Greeks do it. Greek Tilapia's also very quick and easy to prepare, not to mention it's bursting with many different flavors.
To make this, just cook some tilapia filets in butter in an oven-proof skillet. Mix some milk, cheese, and egg in a bowl and spoon it on the tilapia filets before sprinkling them with some chopped tomatoes, pine nuts, and olives. Bake them for 15 to 20 minutes (or until the filets flake easily with a fork).
If you can’t have adobong manok or adobong baboy this Holy Week, then you can definitely have adobong pusit. Like the traditional adobo, this is squid stewed in vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and yes, squid ink. Needless to say, its sauce alone will make you come back for seconds.
Another interesting Holy Week food you can try is seafood kare-kare. It’s just like the traditional kare-kare, but it uses fish instead. It’s pretty much what you’d expect: slathered in peanut sauce, eaten with bagoong, and absolutely delicious. Try out other healthy variations which call for squid, taba ng talangka, and tahong.
Delicious Veggie Dishes
For parents with kids who are picky eaters, convincing them to eat their vegetables from the Holy Week menu dishes you’ll prepare will definitely be a challenge and feel like another form of penance. But if you level up your veggie dishes, you might be surprised. Picky eaters and even non-veggie lovers might enjoy them, too.
Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna
It’s a popular vegetarian dish. But for the purposes of the season and so that you can deal with the finicky eaters, this is definitely a winner. Who doesn’t love lasagna, right? And using a meat alternative like mushrooms will still produce a delicious pasta dish that both kids and adults will love. Throw in some spinach (and other green leafy veggies) to make it a healthy, guilt-free Holy Week food, too.
Eggy Veggie Bake
This dish is easy to make and can feed a lot of people, which is perfect if you have a family gathering this coming Holy Week. You can serve it not just for breakfast, but for lunch, merienda, and even dinner, depending on how you tweak it with your preferred veggie ingredients. It looks like a very fancy dish, but it only takes 10 minutes to prepare and about 40 minutes to cook.
This tempura recipe may not be as delicious as the shrimp tempura, but it's a delicious and healthy Holy Week food idea. The broccoli's cooked in a batter and then deep-fried so that it’s crispy and fluffy. And if you prepare a dipping sauce that’s just as yummy, even those who don’t love broccoli will enjoy partaking in this dish!
There’s no need to be bitter when talking about guisadong ampalaya. It’s a tasty, nutritious dish that also makes a perfect Holy Week food idea. If you can’t stand the bitter taste of ampalaya, there’s a hack that you can do.
Cut the ampalaya in half, lengthwise, and then scoop out the seeds and the pith in the middle. Slice the ampalaya in bite-sized pieces and add a generous amount of salt. Mix it well and leave it for around 30 minutes to allow the salt to draw out the water in the ampalaya.
After that, you can saute it in garlic, onions, and tomatoes, and then add some whisked eggs. That’s it!
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This Holy Week, you can go with the standards of home-cooked meals. They’re always good and familiar, plus you can never go wrong with a great chopsuey or fried fish with some stir-fried vegetables.
But you can also try some of these Holy Week food ideas over the course of the Lenten season. Feel free to experiment and see what you can come up with in the kitchen.
Source:  What is Lent?