Spain is a Catholic country, with long-standing religious traditions. Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus, and is the most important religious feast for Christians. Starting with Ash Wednesday, the forty days leading up to Easter are called Lent (Cuaresma in Spanish), a time of prayer, penitence and fasting in preparation for Holy Week. Catholics abstain from eating meat on Fridays during Lent. That's not a problem for the Spanish, since they consume about 70 lbs. of seafood per person every year. Learn more in our article about Spanish Seafood.
Use this list of Spanish main course recipes for Lent, or anytime of year, and you won't run out of meatless main courses.
Valencia is a region on the Mediterranean coast of Spain, between Barcelona and Murcia. There are as many versions of paella as there are cooks in Spain! Paella Vegetariana is a vegetarian version of Valencia’s signature rice dish. Instead of chicken or seafood, vegetables fill in and create a tasty and satisfying vegetarian rice dish.
A simple and rich-tasting, this seafood dish combines two favorites of Spanish cuisine – clams and garlic! It is the perfect Lenten dish and won’t leave you hungry. Be sure to have plenty of fresh French-style bread on hand for dunking in the sauce.
Prepare a quick and simple green sauce, a classic Spanish sauce made with parsley and garlic. Cook fillets or rounds of salmon in a bit of olive oil. Steam flavorful, small manila clams separately. Then, fish and clams are combined together in the green sauce.
Bacalao is Spanish for Cod fish. This is a simply wonderful fish dish from Central and Northern Spain. Salty, dry cod is soaked, then breaded and fried, and finally sautéed with tomato sauce and roasted red peppers.
Covered in a sauce of olive oil, sautéed onions and vinegar, lightly fried fish is a delicious and tangy main course. Serve it with rice and a fresh green salad for a healthy meal.
In the Southern Spanish city of Rota, snapper is so popular that there is an annual snapper festival! Baked snapper with tomato sauce, garlic, onion and peppers is a dish that is simple to make and a tasty main dish when served with new potatoes.
This dish is from Santander, on the north coast of Spain. Fresh sardines are fried, then sautéed with tomato sauce.
The Spanish eat lots of beans and they make great meals for the fall and winter seasons. This bean dish is a simple, flavorful dish that contains no meat. Eaten with rice, it makes an entire meal in a single bowl!
Garbanzos are a very typical ingredient in Spain, eaten quite often in the colder weather. This stew is vegetarian, but very satisfying.
This is a traditional dish from Zamora in Castilla-Leon. It is popular all year, but has a special place on Good Friday’s menu. Salt cod are fried, then drizzled with olive oil and slices of sautéed garlic. Serve with boiled potatoes and eggs.
Fish with Onion Sauce is lightly fried fish that is delicious with a tangy onion sauce. This dish is can be made with any white fish that does not have a strong flavor and will not crumble when fried.
More Lenten Recipes From About's Guide to Catholicism
- Lenten Recipes, Meatless Recipes for Lent and Throughout the Year