Fast Friendly Recipes from the Monastery and My Home

It’s fairly common for Eastern Christians to have a regular potluck or social hour after Sunday liturgy or after one of the Presanctified Liturgies during Great Lent. We have been having regular Sunday potluck at the monastery for what seems like forever now! Father Moses and I have been planning meals, swapping recipes, and commiserating during Lent about “what to make this week?” for as long as I can remember.

As we are getting closer to Pascha (Yay!) everyone is probably getting tired of fasting food. I’ve put together these recipes from Father Moses and myself to prepare for any get together during a fast or for your family meal, maybe you’ll find a new recipe to try out.

Homemade refried pinto beans served on crunchy tostada shells with all the fixin’s feels like a more “normal” meal to me and is more satisfying because of that. Here is what I do.

1 lb pinto or pink beans
8 cups vegetable broth
2 large or 4 medium sweet yellow onion (1/2 for first cooking, then other 1/2 for refrying)
6 cloves garlic (1/2 for first cooking, then other 1/2 for refrying)
2-3 tablespoons good chile powder (I prefer medium to hot)
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon ground cumin
salt and pepper
Store bought tostada shells or corn tortillas to fry

I prefer to cook in the crockpot overnight but stove top is fine too. If I cook in the crockpot I don’t bother to soak beans, I cook on low. On stove, soak beans overnight, drain and add to large pot. Add beans, vegetable broth, chopped onion, minced garlic, chile powder, cumin, cilantro, salt and pepper and give it a stir.

If cooking in the crockpot, simply turn to low and let cook. On the stove bring to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer, place the lid on only part way. Stir occasionally. With an overnight soak the beans usually cook in about an hour and a half. Make sure the liquid doesn’t get to low before the beans finish (if you must add liquid make sure it’s warm or your beans could discolor). Once tender the beans are done.

To fry:

Add some oil to a large skillet and saute 2 chopped onions. After a few minutes a 3 cloves of garlic. As the onion and garlic cook start adding in the beans, you want to add in some of the liquid from the beans but probably not all of it. Mash the beans as they cook, adding liquid from beans if needed to make a nice consistency. Mash to your desired liking and adjust seasonings. Check for salt, pepper, chile powder, cumin and cilantro. Sometimes you might want to add a bit more spices. When it isn’t the fast add in lots of cheese!

For the Fixin’s, as much of the following you can make and pile on top!:

Shredded Lettuce, Chopped Onion (sweet onions are the best), Black Olives, Tomatoes, Hot Sauce or Chile Arbol, Guacamole or Avocado Sauce

Avocado Sauce
Making guacamole, especially for a crowd, can get pricey unless you get a good sale on the avocados. This sauce can stretch the avocados and is a nice change too. The kids and hubby love it. I use canned coconut milk but you could use water if you don’t have coconut milk on hand. I never used coconut milk until recently when Melissa Naasko shared it with me in her awesome cooking book, Fasting As A Family. Coconut milk works great in lots of recipes and is just over a buck a can.

5 avocados
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1-2 jalapenos, depending on your heat preference
3-4 garlic cloves
Juice of 3 limes or 2 lemons
1 can coconut milk or water (I eyeball the water so I don’t make it too thin)
salt to taste

Toss all ingredients in a blender or food processor and adjust salt to taste. Enjoy!

Chile Arbol
Everyone loves this red sauce; it goes great on everything you want to add some heat to and it is smokin’chile-de-arbol-25761282883531kYpL hot!

14 arbol chiles or less if you don’t want hot sauce (These are dried chiles found in the Mexican section of a store or even at a Chinese market)
3-4 garlic cloves
15 ounce tomato sauce (I prefer Hunt’s brand for this but another brand could work too)
salt to taste

Remove stems and roast the chiles until mostly black on one side and just toasty on the other. You can roast the garlic too or use it raw, both ways produce a slightly different flavor–both are good. I try to do this on medium to keep the smoke down. If you roast on high this will smoke your kitchen out and cause a cough attack, and burning eyes to everyone in the vicinity. With either temp, it is best if you put the vent on high and open the windows. Even if you do those things it is best to clear the kitchen out and keep the little kids away. If you use a cast iron pan to do this the heat from the chiles will stay in the pan for awhile so choose your pan wisely. Yes, the sauce is worth all of this! After roasting, toss the chile, garlic, tomato sauce and salt in a blender/processor. Adjust salt to taste.

Vegetarian Pozole
Father Moses’ take on this dish is great. Pozole is a rich soup traditionally made with chunks of pork simmered in a red chili broth with hominy. This recipe substitutes beans for the pork and is made in a slowcooker. The long slow cooking makes for a very rich flavor.

1 lb. pink beans or pinto
20 oz. vegetable broth
18 dried New Mexico red chilies
10 cloves garlic 5 minced fine and 5 left whole
2 tbs whole cumin seed
1 large onion cut in quarter
3 29 oz. cans Mexican style hominy
2 tbs dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Put the beans and vegetable broth in a slowcooker set to High.
Remove the stems and most of the seeds from the chilies (the more seeds the hotter). Break the chilies in 3 to 4 pieces and put in a saucepan with the onion, whole garlic cloves and cumin seed. Cover with water, bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours. Remove the chili from the heat and blend smooth in a blender. Add this to the slowcooker along with the hominy and oregano. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow to cook about 12 to 14 hours, until the beans are tender.

Serve with shredded cabbage, finely diced onion, chopped cilantro and lemon wedges to be add individually by the diners. Enjoy!

Greek Salad with Lemon and Oil oil-822618_960_720

5 heads of romaine lettuce, chopped
2 small or 1 large red onion, sliced into rings
3 cucumbers, chopped and peeled if you want
3-4 tomatoes, chopped chunky not too small
9.5 ounce jar of pitted kalamata olives, drained.

For dressing use 2:1 Oil to Lemon Juice
Dill, fresh or dry chopped (optional)
Lots of pepper and salt to taste
Have lots of bread for dipping in the oil and lemon when the salad is gone!

Giardiniera Rice
Father Moses came up with this recipe and it is simple and delicious.

1/2  a 16 ounce jar of Mezzeta (or equally delicious) Giardiniera, get hot or mild according to your taste
2 cups long grain rice
4 cups vegetable broth or water

Add enough oil from the jar to sauté the rice in. Brown lightly then add broth and half the jar of giardiniera. Bring to a boil, turn heat down to a simmer and cook rice according to direction with lid on. Easy peasy but so good!

Louisiana Style Red Beans and Rice
One of my favorite meals Father Moses makes during the fasts.

red beans

1 lb small red beans
1 qt vegetable broth or bullion
3 stalks celery small dice
1 lg green pepper small dice
1 large onion small dice
6 cloves garlic minced
1 bunch parsley chopped
1 bunch green onions chopped
4 TBS dried thyme leaves
2 tsp liquid smoke
1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 to 1/2 tsp white pepper
1/4 to 1/2 tsp black pepper
6 to 8 shakes or more to taste Tabasco sauce
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
6 to 8 shakes or more to taste Frank’s red hot  sauce
2 3 inch pieces of lemon zest stuck with 3  cloves in each zest
Put red beans, vegetable broth and veggies in a crock pot. Add everything else reserving the parsley and green onions. Cook on high for 6 to 8 hours. For the last hour or so I remove the lid so that the sauce will thicken up. Adjust seasonings about 1/2 hour before ready to serve. Right before serving remove the lemon zest and stir in the parsley and green onions. Serve with steamed rice.

Father Moses’ Toss it Together Quick On A Sunday Morning Pasta garlic
This is enough to please a large potluck crowd after Divine Liturgy

3 lbs of A long pasta like Fettuccine or Linguine
Head of Garlic, minced, chopped, whatever ya like
A large chopped or sliced onion
1 lb Fresh mushrooms, sliced
3 cups Olives, Green, Black, Kalamata, use one or a mix, whatever you like
1 Jar Roasted Peppers, drained or 1 fresh Bell Pepper
1/4 cup Capers, add a bit of the juice from jar
A large Handful of Fresh Arugula or Baby Spinach
16 ounce jar Sun dried tomatoes, whole, chopped, blended into a paste, whatever you like (add oil from jar to pasta)
3 cans Beans (for protein), canned, some leftover homemade beans, Garbanzo, Cannelloni, Red Kidney Beans, whatever you got
Approximately 2 cups or as needed, Olive Oil
Crushed Red Pepper and Ground Black Pepper to taste (probably no need for salt with all the jarred food)

Cook the pasta and drain. Saute onion, garlic, fresh peppers and mushrooms if using then mix all ingredients up, add arugula or spinach last and serve at room temp.

Father Moses’ Red Wine Braised Lentils

1/2 cup olive oil
2 large onions, sliced
8 cloves garlic, sliced
2 large carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
4 cups lentils
10 cups vegetable broth
3 cups red wine
6 cups canned whole tomatoes
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon black pepper
2 tablespoons oregano
salt to taste

Caramelize onion in olive oil then add garlic, carrots and celery. Saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Break up tomatoes while you stir. Simmer until lentils are tender. Serve with, pasta, rice, or gnocchi.

As you can see we love spicy ’round here! Would ya’ll like some feasting recipes for Pascha season?


  1. I think it is awesome that so many Eastern Christians have potlucks or social hours together on Sundays! What a beautiful practice and way to bring a parish family together 🙂 These recipes all look so delicious. I especially like the idea of stretching out avocados with coconut milk!

  2. I think you just planned my dinners for the next 2 weeks! 😉 Thanks for the great post! God bless!

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