Monday, February 28, 2011

Lent and Food

Here we go again... I've been thinking a lot about how to make the most of the Lenten season this year.  Every year since we moved to Chicago, Archbishop Job would begin Lent by telling us "The school of repentance is open."  On Palm Sunday, he would declare it closed, and I would think, "I've failed again."  In my defense I was too sick during two of them to do much more than pray, "Lord, please make this feeling stop."  On the other hand, that's no excuse since I blew five other opportunities.

This year I get to try again. Yippee!  And I hope to use the time fruitfully.  I plan to read the Bible everyday -- at the very least the prescribed daily readings.  I have not been faithful enough in the past to keep up with daily Bible reading.  I pray I can do better.  The Lenten project for the Sunday school kids was sent home yesterday, so the girls and I will be doing that, too.  Then, we will be attending most, though probably not all, of the extra church services.  So, I have a plan for the spiritual journey, and I'll be trying my best to stick to the road map.

Then, there is the worst part of Lent... the FOOD!  I thought it was hard to be a Catholic at an Episcopal university on Fridays in Lent when the only thing served in the dining hall seemed to be chicken sandwiches.  I didn't think fasting could get any harder until I became Orthodox.  I have found some pretty good recipes over the years, and we've managed to get through.  However, we're usually dragging by the middle.  Ironically, this week which should be the easiest has often been the hardest for me to cook in because I try to clear the cabinets and don't want to buy dairy during my weekly grocery shopping for fear it will be wasted.  So, I end up cooking spaghetti and soyballs with Parmesan cheese, or bean soup with the extra cheddar cheese in the fridge.  And DH complains that I'm simply cooking Lenten meals and adding cheese.

Well, this year I'm fixing that.  Starting with tonight's dinner, I'll periodically post some of the more successful Cheesefare and Lenten recipes.

So, tonight's dinner was spinach lasagna.  Before we moved to Chicago, I had the best ever lasagna recipe.  Sadly, it was lost in the move, and I have been trying to recreate it ever since.  This is not that lasagna, but I'm pretty pleased with this easy version.

1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced (or to taste -- we love garlic)
3 cups fresh baby spinach
1 small carrot, shredded
1 jar/can of your favorite spaghetti sauce (I used Hunt's Traditional 26 oz)
2 cups water (use a little less if you have more sauce)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup cottage cheese
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
3 handfuls (1/4 - 1/2 cup) fresh parsley
1 egg
2 cups mozzarella cheese or Italian blend
8 lasagna noodles

1. In a large pan, saute onion and garlic in EVOO.  Add spaghetti sauce, water, spinach, and carrots.  Simmer about 10 minutes until spinach starts to wilt.
2. In a large bowl, mix salt, pepper, ricotta, cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, parsley, and egg.
3. Layer in a 13x9 pan: sauce, noodles, cheese mix, mozzarella, sauce, noodles, cheese mix, sauce mozzarella.
4. Cover with foil and bake 50 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  Remove foil and bake another 10 minutes.


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