Updated 2009-06-02 17:33:18 ID=328:1

© 2009 The Romantic Table
©2009 The Romantic Table, Salmon with Warm Basil Cream Vinaigrette 2009-03-04 22:23:20:128
©2009 The Romantic Table

Salmon with Warm Basil Cream Vinaigrette

A look at March's Recipes

It's late Winter and the first full month of Lent so we're featuring more seafood and vegetarian entrees that help us simplify our lives in preparation for a glorious Easter Celebration!

As we go into the Lenten Season this month, we will simplify our recipes a bit. You can't talk about the Mediterranean Diet without realizing the fact that this culinary style developed in the Mediterranean over many centuries in a predominately Judeo-Catholic culture. This is a time of fasting. Interestingly, there is Medical evidence that occasional fasting is actually a healthy thing to do, it allows the body to purge itself.

There is no doubt that the religious traditions and cultural traditions developed in sync and were driven by the seasons. At this time of year, after the excess of the harvest season when all perishable foods were consumed, people would naturally HAVE to simplify their meals because of the scarcity of meats and fresh vegetables. Feasting would have to wait until the Spring lamb and Spring vegetables were in season.

Tuscan Style White Bean Soup with Parmesan Cheese Rind, ©2009 The Romantic Table  2009-03-04 22:26:42:129
©2009 The Romantic Table

Tuscan Style White Bean Soup with Parmesan Cheese Rind
What the peoples of those countries DID have access to were fresh seafood and leafy winter vegetables. With that in mind, in honor of the season, we'll feature some of our favorite seafood dishes that are both delicious and inexpensive for this time of year. Yet these simple inexpensive meals are so delicious, eye-appealing and fun!

First off we'll start of with one of our favorite Salmon recipes, Salmon with Warm Basil Cream Vinaigrette. O.K. maybe we're cheating a little bit using basil this time of year, but this is not the Middle Ages! The salmon is so delicious and glorious to look at! Years ago, church-goers thought they " were sacrificing" by eating fish instead of meat --maybe a lot of people did not know the correct way to cook fish and it tasted awful! But trust me! Eating this style salmon is far from a sacrifice!

We'll also showcase a wonderful way to serve halibut: Halibut with a butter sage wine reduction. If you're lucky enough to find fresh halibut, you don't want to ruin it by simply grilling it or putting it under the broiler. Saute it gently until "just done" cooking it to perfection but leaving the fish very moist. We serve it with a sage, butter and wine reduction accompanied with Brussels sprouts.

Our super inexpensive meal this month is Swiss Chard with Applewood Smoked Uncured Bacon tossed with some Pappardelle pasta. It might sound "ho-hum" but it's not! And the best thing about this recipe, you can feed four easily for under ten dollars!

Homemade Almond Biscotti, ©2009 The Romantic Table 2009-03-04 22:28:50:130
©2009 The Romantic Table

Homemade Almond Biscotti
The soup this month is a Tuscan Style White Bean Soup with Parmesan Cheese Rind. This too is very inexpensive but absolutely delicious! That is what's so nice about Italian cooking, nothing is wasted. The leftover Parmesan cheese rind really makes this soup special!

In the oven, our FUN pizza this month is the classic Pizza Marinara. You always have time for pizza! And this style of pizza is in "full compliance with Lent with its pizza sauce, anchovies, capers and Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.

Then to close out the month, we'll have for our dessert, some simple homemade Almond Biscotti with coffee.

As you can see, though some of us might be adhering to a Lenten diet, we definitely won't starve or only have "gruel!" Seriously though, Lent is a time for refection, self-assessment and simplifying our lives. That goes for simplifying our meals a little bit too! But, we can have a little fun as well!

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A tip from Sue!

Frying high fat meats

You can cut down on the calories of high-fat meats, by just adding a little water (instead of adding oil) to your frying pan until the meat's fat starts releasing and lubricating the pan, then cook with the frying pan covered. If you want a crispy coating, you uncover the pan or cook with the lid partially ajar.