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Nistisimes Syntages – Food for the Soul (Lenten Recipes)

octopus drying image

“Nistisimes Syntages” are the Lenten recipes the Orthodox can eat during fasting periods.   The Orthodox religion has a lot of fasting periods.  The period of the Great Lent starts on Kathara Deftera (Clean Monday) and this period is called Saracosti.   During the period of Saracosti  the faithful fast for a period of 48 days and not 40, as it is falsely believed: the six weeks of Lent and Holy Week.  This is not obligatory and most people fast for a couple of weeks before Easter.  The fasting period of Easter end after the resurrection of Jesus.  

The Christmas fasting period starts on the 15th November and ends on the 24th December.  From the 15th November till the 17th December, fish is allowed to be consumed but not on Wednesdays and Fridays, which in any case all Wednesdays and Fridays of the year are fasting days.

The fasting period before the Assumption of the Virgin, starts on the 1st of August and ends on the 14th of August and of course there are many other days when fasting is part of our religion.

Meat and animal prod­ucts (cheese, milk, butter, eggs, lard), fish (meaning fish with backbones), olive oil and wine (all alcoholic drinks) are not consumed during the weekdays of Great Lent.    Octopus and shell-fish are allowed, as is vegetable margarine, shortening, and vegetable oils, gelatin, olives, as well as honey are allowed.

collage Nistisima image


On weekends, olive oil and wine are permitted. Fish is permitted only on two Sundays during the Lenten period: on the Feast of the Annunciation (March 25) and on Palm Sunday (one week before Easter).

The purpose of fasting is to cleanse the body as well as the spirit in preparation for accepting the Resurrection at Easter, which is the most sacred of all observances in the Greek Orthodox faith.

Through fasting, we also learn to feel compassion for the poor and hungry and to save our own resources so that we can help those in need.

During this period I shall try and post mainly Nistisimes Syntages (Lenten recipes).   However,  I do have lots of recipes I have prepared before Lent, which I shall also post.

I apologize if in some of the links you do not find some of my Cypriot recipes.  This means that they have been included in my cookbook and had to be removed.

If you exclude the recipes with seafood, gelatine and honey all other recipes here are vegan:

Nistisimes Syntages (Lenten Recipes)


Htapodi me makaronaki Kofto (Octopus with pasta)

Octopus Salad

Kalamaria Gemista (Stuffed Squid)

Shrimp Risotto

Shrimp Risotto (2)

Stewed Thrapsala (squid) with Mushrooms 

Three recipes with Thrapsala (Short fin squid)


Main Dishes:

Aromatic Blackeyed Peas with Wild Greens and Quinoa

Gemista (stuffed tomatoes and peppers)

Koupepia (Dolmadakia) Gialantzi (stuffed vine leaves with rice and herbs)

Fasolada (White beans in tomato sauce)

Fakes Moutzentra (Cypriot lentils with rice)

Arakas Laderos (Peas with carrots in tomato sauce)

Spanakoryzo (Spinach with rice)

Mpamies Giahni (stewed okra)

Broad Beans, peas and artichokes à la Polita

Fasolia Mavrommatika (Black-eyed peas)

Greekwhite beans salad

Black-eyed peas with spinach and Swiss chard in tomato sauce

Fasolakia Giahni  (Braised Green beans in tomato sauce)


Patates lemonates (oven baked lemon potatoes)

Patates Antinahtes (whole potatoes with red wine)

Pommes Lyonnaises

Rice pilaf with vegetables and vermicelli

Pilafi pourgouri- (without the meat) Bulgur wheat pilaf

Revithokeftedes me Garides (Shrimp – chickpea patties)

Revithokeftedes (chickpea patties)

Kounoupidi me Patates Kapamas (stew cauliflower with potatoes)

Penne with Mushrooms, Roasted Garlic, Cilantro and Marinara Sauce

Penne Skordalia with Courgettes and Olives

Chickpeas with spinach

Lentils with Carrοts, Orzo and Caramelized Onions

Aromatic Black-eyed Peas with Wild Greens and Quinoa

Lentils and Bulgur Spicy Salad/Pilaf

Veggie burgers

Gigantes Plaki (Baked Giant beans)

Black Giant Beans with Spinach and Pasta


Hoummous Soup (chickpeas soup)

Vegetable puree soup with pasta

Fakes (Lentil Soup)

Coconut Red Lentil Soup

Greek Fava and Pumpkin Soup


Bourekia with mushrooms

Whole Wheat Focaccia with Kalamata Olives

Elioti (Olives Roulade)

Eliopsomo (Olive Bread)

Herbed Eliopsomο (olive bread) with Pesto

Lagana with Garlicky Olives, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Rosemary


Olives and Carrot Bread Sticks and rolls

Eliopita (olive pies)

Kolokotes (Cypriot pumpkin pies)

Tahninopita (Tahini filled pastry)

Tahinopsomo (Tahini Bread)

Ladenia (Greek style pizza)

Dips / appetizers:

Taramosalata (Roe dip)

Melitzanosalata (Eggplant dip)

Houmous (chickpeas dip)

Elies tsakistes (green crushed olives)

Elies Kalamon (kalamata olives)

Pantzaria Xydata (Beets preserved in vinegar)

Spanakopita nistisimi

Black-eyed pea patties

Revithokeftedes (Chickpea Patties)

Mpiftekia Revithion

Koupes me manitaria (kibbeh stuffed with mushrooms)

Snails Stiffado Saganaki (without the feta)



Moustokouloura (without the cheese)

Chocolate Puddings

Pastelli (Sesame Honey Candy with Peanuts)

Daktyla (almond filled lady fingers)

Halvas with Chocolate, Nuts & Dried Fruit

Creative Pot Halvades

Mini Apple Turnovers with Homemade Apple Sauce

Pot Halvas with fruit and almonds

Pischies (Pastry bathed in syrup)


Eggless and Dairy Free Chocolate cake

Vegan Chocolate Carrot Cake with Chocolate-Tahini Glazing

Loukoumades (Doughnuts)

Akoumia (Symian Doughnuts)


Carrot cake with chocolate

Ladlokouloura (Olive oil biscotti)

Fanouropita (olive oil spice cake)

Butternut Squash Mandarin Cake with Butternut Squash – Almond Glaze 

Kalon Prama (Samali)

Almond and Srawberry Halvas

Coconut Mandarin Samali (semolina Cake) 

Strawberries with Chocolate

Bougatsa (vegan)

Roxakia Orange Dough Cookies)

Halvas with Chocolate, Nuts and Dried Fruit 

Tahinopita me Mila (Tahini Bread with Apple Filling)


You can find my Greek recipes in my cookbooks «More Than A Greek Salad», and«Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!» both available on all Amazon stores. Read more here.


Kalo Pascha!


Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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21 Responses

  1. A great collection of recipes! Everything looks so yummy!



  2. Ivy, that’s quite an array of Lenten dishes and food for thought for those looking to add a new dish to the Sarakosti trapezi.

    Kali Anastasi.

  3. Bravo Ivy! A nice introduction to the Lenten period AND a very wide assortment of nistisima foods. One could craft their entire Lenten menu from this collection alone! Impressive.

  4. Wow, what a great round up of Lenten dishes Ivy! So many great things to choose from here, you don’t feel like you are giving much up! Kali Sarakosti kai xronia polla!

  5. Scrumptious

    What a wonderful collection of recipes! Everything looks so unbelievably delicious – no deprivation here!

    I wanted to let you know the announcement for the March theme for Sugar High Fridays has been posted:

    The theme is Desserts over a century old, and I know a lot of the recipes you cook and post about here are traditional dishes. I would be so delighted to learn a 100+ year-old Greek dessert recipe, or anything else you feel like cooking up.

    Hope to see you there this month!

  6. Phew! Who said Lenten foods were boring or limited? That looks like quite an array Ivy!

  7. That is an amazing array of dishes Sis. There is not a single thing that I would not love to enjoy any day of the week:D

  8. B/w you and the other couple of lenten blogs, I have my entire menu for all of Lent planned out!!!
    I can’t wait to try some of these Ivy!!!

  9. Wow so many yummy, scrummy, new, tempting and alluring recipes……Feast to the pallette and eyes….Ummmmm

  10. Wow this is what i call a feast, wow wow wow.
    A wonderful delicious post.

  11. Wow this is what i call a feast, wow wow wow.
    A wonderful delicious post.
    Oops…forgot to say great post! Looking forward to your next one.

  12. I was very interested to read the origins and reasons behind Lent in Greek history. However, this looks more like feasting than fasting! 🙂

  13. That’s quite a delicious storm you’ve cooked up Ivy! HOW DID YOU MANAGE?

  14. Kudos to you Ivy this is such an awesome Lenten array of dishes!! So much variety to choose from and which one to start with – a feast to my eyes!

    Please pass by my blog and collect some awards ;o)

    Rosie x

  15. I read with interest your description of the Lent traditions. The array of dishes is amazing. Looking forward to exploring some of them.

  16. Nice collection of recipes. The shrimp risotto looks really good. I will be preparing some meals for lent as well.

  17. giz

    Wow Ivy – and what will you cook for tomorrow (hahahaha). I love these customs and how people can change and do things they don’t normally do when they feel purpose. Beautiful array of yummies.

  18. This is absolutely wonderful, Ivy. Thank you posting these lenten dishes. I’m going to make fakes soupa tomorrow. Take care!

  19. Sophia

    Nice collection of recipes. The shrimp risotto looks really good. I will be preparing some meals for lent as well.

  20. looking so delicious and easy to make, thanks for sharing such a wonderful article.

  21. Fiona

    Amazing Recipe and excellent experience of Cooking . This recipe seems easy to me i will try this within this week 🙂