New Castle News

February 16, 2013

Culinary Conversation: What are your favorite Lenten recipes?

Lugene Hudson
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — I could eat fish every day.

At least during Lent, I know I can count on a fish dinner on Fridays.

Church members have practically become pros at making the best broiled and fried fish with delectable go-alongs like macaroni and cheese, coleslaw and pierogis. I relish them to the maximum because at my house, seafood is only welcomed by one member of the family — me.

I married my husband for his many wonderful qualities including wit, intelligence and adoration of animals. But loving fish was not one of those attributes — unless you count tuna fish. He does humor me during Lent and we partake of wonderful meals at a church near our home. Otherwise, I have to wait until I’m at a restaurant to enjoy seafood.

Lately, though, Doug has surprised me by bringing home a piece of cod or haddock, which I thoroughly enjoy. Obviously, he eats something else.

We would love to hear about the types of recipes you serve your family during Lent.

Are there old stand-bys you rely on? Or are you trying something different this year? Please submit your favorite Lenten recipes — as well as any other favorites including main dishes, casseroles, salads and desserts along with your cooking stories —  to Culinary Conversation. It’s the column that wants to include you as a guest contributor.

Today, selections include combining fish and seafood — a winning combo  — an entreé that is akin to a baked clam chowder and falafel burgers. I happen to be a big fan of chickpeas, which is a main component to making falafel, and the bonus to this recipe is the protein factor.

Pasta and Salmon

Heat a large pot of salted water and when it’s boiling, drop in the pasta. While the pasta cooks, quickly prepare the sauce. Heat the oil in a large skillet, then add the scallions and peppers, and sauté a few minutes. Pour in the wine and when it has boiled hard for a few seconds, add 2 tbsps. of the tarragon, fish stock, salmon, cream, salt, pepper to taste and optional Tabasco. Let simmer gently until the pasta is al dente. Drain the pasta and add to the mixture in the skillet along with peas. Toss gently together and serve when heated through, sprinkling each serving with remaining tarragon and the parsley.

Clam Bake

Preheat the broiler. Place a large pot of salted water over high heat to boil.

Place a large skillet over medium heat with 2 tbsps. butter. Add the onion, celery and carrots; season with salt and pepper and cook until tender but not caramelized, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the potatoes, thyme, juice of the clams and 1/2 cup of water to the skillet and bring the liquids to a bubble. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the potatoes are tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

While the vegetables are simmering, drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook al dente, according to package directions. Just before the pasta is ready, reserve a large mug of the starchy cooking water. Drain the pasta and return it to the pan it was cooked in.

While the vegetables and pasta are cooking, place a medium saucepot over medium heat with the remaining 2 tbsps. butter. Sprinkle the flour over the melted butter and cook for 1 minute. Whisk the milk and 1 cup of starchy cooking water into the roux and bring to a bubble. Add the clams to the sauce; season with salt and pepper and simmer until thickened, about 1 minute. Keep warm.

When everything is ready, toss the cooked vegetables and prepared sauce with the cooked pasta and transfer to a large casserole dish.

Sprinkle the bread crumbs and grated cheese over the surface of the casserole and brown under the broiler. Serves 6.

Falafel Burgers

In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, 2 tsps. olive oil, lemon juice and tahini. Blend well and scoop out into a large bowl. Set aside.

Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Once hot, add the onions and jalapeno, and sauté for about six minutes or until tender. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute until toasty and fragrant. Add coriander and tumeric and mix well.

Add onion mixture to the chickpea mixture and stir well to combine. Add the salt, egg white and bread crumbs and mix well.

Heat the remaining 2 tbsps. olive oil in the same skillet. Form patties with the chickpea mixture and fry for about 3 to 4 minutes per side, until golden and crunchy. Drain on paper towels.

Serve falafel burgers in warm pitas with tahini sauce, hot sauce and sliced red onion.

Makes 6 burgers.