Looking for egg-free, dairy-free and meat free recipes? We’ve got you covered with an assortment of soups, salads, mains and desserts that are perfect for Orthodox lent, or for anyone who is looking to incorporate more delicious, easy, and plant-based options into their life!
One of the reasons why the Greek Mediterranean diet is so healthy is because it incorporates many plant-based meals that highlight nutritious ingredients like beans, pulses, legumes and fresh vegetables. For anyone who is following the Orthodox fasting calendar, this also means that a good portion of the year is devoted to following a lenten (or nistisimo) diet.
Although shellfish is permitted, fish, meat, poultry, eggs and dairy are not. This may seem limiting, but with the right recipes you can enjoy satisfying and delicious meals all year round. Whether it is a warming bowl of Greek lentil soup (fakes) or a sweet ending to a meal, like our tahini honey cookies, we have d so many great options for you!
If you are fasting, or if you are looking to eat a healthy Mediterranean diet you will love these recipes. Most of these recipes are pretty economical too (especially when compared to cooking with meat and dairy). A great solution to rising food prices that are putting a strain on many households.
Table of contents
Forget pastries, cereal, or bacon and eggs to start your day. These nistisima or lenten recipes will make your mornings delicious, and easy, throughout the year.
Our healthy brownie baked oatmeal is made with wholesome ingredients, no refined sugar, and no oil. It tastes so rich and delicious you would never believe that it is a lenten (nistisima) recipe.
We use plant-based milk and instead of eggs we use ground flax seeds. It is sweetened with maple syrup and includes almond butter.
This recipe is perfect for anyone following a vegan or gluten-free diet (make sure that the oats you use are gluten-free). Of course, it is also perfect for anyone who is fasting!
We absolutely love this Healthy Brownie Baked Oatmeal and make it at least once a week. It is a great, easy breakfast. Make it the night before and keep it in the refrigerator. You can even make a double batch and freeze some of it! We prefer it warmed up a bit in the microwave. Serve it with some plant-based yogourt for added goodness!
Smoothies are a wonderful way to get fruits and veggies into the diet of people who may not otherwise enjoy them! Our orange juice and berry smoothie is a great one because it is so simple, and so refreshingly delicious.
We absolutely love this smoothie because the liquid base used is orange juice. Since it is sweetened with maple syrup it is also naturally vegan, and of course, perfect for lent.
If you are looking to cut down on sugary morning breakfasts, are keeping a gluten-free and / or vegan diet, and want a breakfast that is light but filling, this is a great choice.
Switch things up a bit. You can use strawberries, raspberries, blueberries or blackberries. Cherries would be nice too! You can use either fresh or frozen fruit. Customize this recipe to suit your taste.
Our easy vegan apple and oatmeal muffins are easy, delicious, and the perfect take along breakfast, lunchtime snack or late evening treat.
All the wholesome ingredients come together in a food processor or blender. These muffins are vegan, gluten-free and even refined sugar free.
The muffins are sweet thanks to Medjool dates and maple syrup. They are also super moist. If your oats are gluten-free, then this recipe is great for anyone avoiding gluten, as well as anyone fasting for Orthodox lent.
Store them in the refrigerator where they last longer…not that they really ever last that long!
A great salad can make a meal all on its own, or it can be served as a side. Make a big batch and enjoy these vegan salads over the course of a few days – super simple, and simply delicious. Lent is easy with these great nistisima options!
Potato salads such as our Greek potato salad with herbs are popular throughout Greece. This is not your typical mayonnaise-rich potato salad. Instead, the potatoes and herbs are tossed in an easy home made vinaigrette, keeping the entire dish light and fresh tasting.
When you have access to fresh herbs this salad is a must! It keeps well in the refrigerator for several days, and is quite satisfying. We tend to make a big bowl during lent and we have it for lunch, or as a side during dinner.
This light potato salad is perfect for Orthodox lent, is vegan, and can be made with a variety of potatoes. Feel free to switch the herbs up too!
This salad reminds us of Greece! Everyone enjoys it, and if you are taking it along to a picnic or a potluck, we do not have to worry about mayonnaise spoiling, the way you have to with your typical North American potato salads.
Hearty, easy, and absolutely delicious. This is how we describe our red cabbage salad with apple. A wonderful crunch, and each bite bursting with flavour.
No mayonnaise in this salad! The flavour comes from a tangy homemade vinaigrette, and the addition of apples, carrots, cranberries and walnuts.
You will love this salad if you are looking for a healthy salad that can make ahead. Naturally vegan and gluten-free, this salad actually tastes even better the day after it is made. Perfect for meal-prepping!
We absolutely love this red cabbage and apple salad and we enjoy it even when we are not fasting. We have often brought it along to potlucks and it is always one of the first things to go. Not bad for cabbage!
Spinach, arugula and strawberry salad tossed in a slightly sweet balsamic and olive oil vinaigrette and topped with a sprinkling of sesame seeds. Fresh and pretty never tasted so good!
The combination of flavours and textures is great and the dressing is simple. Keep this lenten salad vegan by using maple syrup instead of honey.
If you are looking for a light lunch, this spinach, arugula and strawberry salad would be perfect. Served all on its own, or with a grilled piece of chicken or fish.
We love to pack this salad for a take-along lunch. The spinach is hearty enough to hold the dressing well without getting soggy.
Don’t be fooled by the simplistic look of our maroulosalata! This finely chopped Greek salad may only contain a few ingredients, but the dressing, full of herbs, brings great flavour!
The fine chop of the lettuce ensures that each small piece is thoroughly coated in the vinaigrette, and makes eating easier!
Don’t scrimp on the herbs. There is a reason why our maroulosalata is the best one you will every try!
Make the salad and dressing ahead of time and store separately. Dress your salad just before serving to keep it crisp and fresh.
Full of fiber, protein and flavour, we just love our quinoa and chickpea salad. You will feel good after eating such a nutritious salad.
Learn how to prepare this salad in mason jars, so that you can have an easy to grab lunch during busy workdays. All you have to do when it is time for lunch is empty into a bowl and mix.
If you are not fasting, and are able to eat dairy, consider adding some crumbled feta to this salad.
Our squash and pearl couscous salad with kale is definitely a salad that can be a meal! Such a delicious combination of flavours in the lenten (nistisima) recipe. You will love every bit of this salad, and will be making it on repeat!
There is so much flavour in every bite. It is a vibrant and beautiful. The pearl couscous hold the dressing so well, and the kale remains firm. You can definitely make this lenten salad ahead of time.
It is so easy to make a big pot of your favourite soup and have it on hand for easy meals. Most soups freeze really well too, a great option for meal prepping. The following soups are some of our favourites, Greek classics that are naturally vegan and therefore perfect for lent! Did we mention how easy and nutritious they are too?
This traditional Greek soup is one that we make almost weekly. It is simple, and made with green or brown lentils, carrots, onions, celery and a bit of garlic and tomato sauce.
A big pot of fakes, or Greek lentil soup, will become a staple in your diet too, especially because the ingredients are ones you probably always have on hand.
Fakes are an example of rustic Greek cooking that anyone can do. There is no reason not to eat healthy and easily.
Fasolatha with tomato is a classic Greek soup made with white beans and loaded with vegetables. The rich tomato broth makes this soup so delicious, and vibrant.
We love to make a double batch and freeze half for another day! You can freeze individual portions in freezer bags. Lay them flat and then when frozen stand them upright so that you save space in your freezer.
This soup reminds us of Greek village life, and if you want hearty, no-fuss food, this soup is one you will definitely love.
Another version of the traditional Greek fasolatha is this one. White beans, veggies and a lemon flavoured broth are just perfect.
We thicken our soup with a bit of flour to make it thick and creamy (with no cream!). This vegan soup is perfect for chilly days, and for periods of lent.
Use canned beans if you have not planned ahead and soaked your dry beans. Canned beans work well, and make this a soup you can prepare any night of the week.
Mung bean soup or (Psilofasola as it is known in Greek) is a lesser known Greek soup, but we think that everyone should know it! Nothing is simpler than this lenten soup which has only a few ingredients and is so easy to make.
Mung beans are packed with nutrients and cook up quickly, so you can definitely make this soup on a weeknight.
We flavour our mung bean soup simple with Greek oregano and lemon. You will think that this delicious soup is a lot harder to make than it is.
Another bean soup! This one is made with chickpeas, which Greeks love! It is surprisingly delicious given the few ingredients.
You can make this soup using canned chickpeas when pressed for time. Rinse them well, and add them to the pot with a few more ingredients. Nothing could be easier!
Most people love chickpeas, and even young children enjoy their mild flavour. This is a great soup for everyone.
A little spicy, and extremely delicious. That is how we would describe our vegan black-eyed pea soup with kale.
We love to use either fresh kale from the garden, or frozen kale in this soup. If you want to switch things up a bit, you can use swiss chard or even spinach in place of the kale.
Make the soup as spicy, or mild as you like. Adjust the seasoning to your taste. Remember, you can always add more heat, but you cannot really take the heat away!
Main Meal recipes
There are so many options when it comes to preparing nistisima meals that are perfect for lent. Keep in mind that although many of the recipes suitable for lent are vegan, they aren’t all. This is because during lent we are able to eat shellfish, and honey.
A classic Greek dish made with giant runner beans (you can also use giant lima beans). This recipe for gigantes plaki takes a bit of planning, but it is so worth it!
Soak your beans overnight, boil them, and then bake them with all of the veggies and aromatics that bring this meal to an amazing level of flavour!
Serve with a nice loaf of bread, and a green maroulasalata (green lettuce salad) and you are set for a feast! Our recipe makes several portions, so you can feed a family of four, and have leftovers!
If your leftovers seem a bit dry, add a bit of water when reheating your gigantes plaki.
When you don’t know what to cook, and you have limited time and ingredients, spanakorizo is a great option. This vegan (and lenten) meal is a classic Greek recipe.
Spanakorizo is a meal made of spinach (spanaki) and rice (rizi), hence the name. Every Greek family has a version of spanakorizo.
Our version is a combination of rice and spinach cooked in a rich tomato sauce. It is absolutely luxurious. Have it with some bread, olives (and if you are eating dairy, add some feta) for an amazing meal.
If you have been to Greece in the summer, you have probably seen yemista on the menu of your favourite restaurant. This is classic Greek cooking at its best.
Some people add meat to the filling of their yemista, but not us. We like to keep our vegetable filling vegan, using only rice, vegetables and fresh herbs. Trust us, you will not miss the meat!
Our recipe makes a big pan of yemista and you can choose to stuff a variety of veggies, like tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini and peppers. Each one tastes a little different, so there is something to please everyone’s palate!
A rustic Greek meal perfect for lent. This nistisimo (and vegan) recipe is Greece on a plate. Nothing but delicious vegetables cooked together in a tomato broth.
We love to make this meal with frozen artichoke bottoms, making it a cinch to put together!
Cut your potatoes and carrots in chunks and don’t forget the fresh herbs. If you have some fresh bread, be sure to use it to sop up the sauce!
Fasolakia lathera me patates is the Greek way of saying Stewed green beans with potatoes. This recipe is divine! If you think that you don’t like green beans, it is because you have not had them this way!
This meal is from a family of recipes called lathera, which refers to a stew cooked in a rich tomato and olive oil base. Grab the bread to soak up the sauce – there is not one drop of this meal that you want to waste!
You can use long green beans or broad green beans in this recipe. The potatoes can be any variety you like.
Herbed orzo with chickpeas makes a great light lunch or dinner. We love how easy it is to prepare this lenten (nistisimo) and vegan meal.
Try to always keep the ingredients for this recipe in the pantry. That way dinner is only a short while away.
Make double or triple the recipe and pack it for lunches. Keeps several days in the refrigerator!
This amazing meal, chock full of vegetables and fresh herbs is slowly roasted to bring out the amazing flavours and textures of the vegetables.
The secret to our briam is that we use loads of fresh herbs. You might be surprised by the quantity in fact, but trust us. The fresh herbs make a huge diference.
Cauliflower is the star in this recipe! Roasted cauliflower with potatoes is a hearty meal and we use spices that you may not expect to find paired with cauliflower, but trust us, they work!
This is a traditional Greek method of preparing one of the most nutritious and delicious vegetables! Sometimes this recipe is called Kounoupidi Kapama in Greek.
If you are looking for a simple, economical, hearty and lenten (and vegan) recipe, beans and rice is it! We use canned red kidney beans often when we make this recipe. This makes the preparation so easy!
Adjust the seasonings to your taste – make it as spicy, or not, as you like!
For a bit of variety, you can add some white beans or some black-eyed peas to this recipe.
A trio of vegetables that are fried, and then baked in a rich tomato sauce. It’s hard to imagine how delicious this meal is until you try it.
As with many Greek lenten meals, we love to serve this one with olives and plenty of bread! If you make our eggplant, zucchini and potato bake, we think that you will love it as much as we do!
Calamari is one of the seafoods that is permitted during the Orthodox fast, and is considered a lenten ingredients. We love to stuff our calamari with rice, veggies and herbs.
This is a very unique recipe, but a very popular treatment of calamari in Greek cooking. You may have seen this recipe on the menu of your favourite psarotaverna in Greece. Now you can bring Greece into your home.
We use frozen calamari that we defrost overnight in the refrigerator.
Greeks love to combine octopus and pasta for a flavourful and original lenten meal. This dish is delicious and can be made with a variety of pasta shapes.
Do not be afraid to cook with octopus. If you have never done so, we show you step by step how to make this recipe and have great success.
This recipe is fancy and original enough for company and is a great option during lent if you are hosting friends and family.
This is our vegan version of the classic Greek recipe called papoutsakia. In this vegan version of stuffed eggplants, we use a lentil based filling, and instead of béchamel sauce over top, we have vegan mashed potatoes.
The mashed potatoes are made with olive oil, which is the way we prefer them actually. This recipe is full of vegetables and it is so nutritous.
There are several steps involved in making the vegan stuffed eggplant, but it is totally worth it. We guide you on how you can make several elements of this recipe ahead of time. The actual assembly and baking is easy!
Youvetsi is a Greek dish of orzo baked in the oven along with a protein. Typically, meat is used, but we have made our youvetsi vegan and lenten (nistisimo) by using chickpeas.
Orzo is a small rice shaped pasta that is traditionally used to make youvetsi. In Greek it is called kritharaki or in some places, manestra.
This is a wonderful meal that is hearty, easy and can economically feed a crowd.
Sweet potato and black bean quesadilla is a sheet pan meal that is so much fun to make. The quesadilla is packed with everything you need for a complete meal. You will not believe that this is a lenten and vegan recipe.
The quesadilla is filled with sweet potatoes, black beans, brown rice, corn, salsa, and herbs and spices.
The tortillas are arranged on a sheet pan to that the end product is something that you just slice and serve.
We love one-skillet meals like this one. This shrimp and rice recipe comes together without much fuss. It is perfectly balanced with the combination of rice, shrimp and fresh herbs.
The lemon helps to bring out all of the flavours, and we teach you how to cook the shrimp perfectly so that it is not at all rubbery.
You can eat this meal either warm or at room temperature. It makes a great take along lunch, even if you don’t have a microwave handy at work.
There is nothing more comforting than a big bowl of chili! Although meat-based chilis are super popular, you won’t regret our version which is loaded with vegetables and beans.
Our easy vegan chili is so good that even the meat lovers in our family request it. It freezes well, and is suitable all year long, including during lent!
Make this recipe as mild or as spicy as you like by adjusting the recipe.
This is Billie’s favourite lenten meal – in fact, it might be her favourite meal, period! So simple, with only a few straightforward ingredients, but so incredible.
Plan ahead to use dry black eyed peas or use canned. Just rinse them well.
A lot of spinach goes into this recipe – so good for you. It gets cooked down until it becomes luxurious in the rich tomato based sauce. This is a great meal if you are looking for a nutritious option that is simple to make.
A once skillet meal. It does not take long to make our calamari with rice. We use fresh herbs, a tomato base, and frozen calamari.
You can buy calamari tubes and cut them into rings yourself, or you can buy the rings already cut as we usually do. This makes the recipe even easier.
This is a great recipe for anyone who has not had calamari before. It is mild, and combined with the rice, the calamari is a little more
This is a great recipe for anyone who has not had calamari before. It is mild, and combined with the rice, the calamari is a little more
Sandwiches, wraps, and snacks
Quick, easy and light lenten (nistisima) options. Perfect for small meals, or something in between. Our sandwiches, wraps and snacks are great ideas for lent, or anytime you want a plant-based option.
A vegan version of a classic sandwich. Our lenten eggplant BLT sandwich has got everything you would hope for in a sandwich, with the eggplant stepping in for the bacon. This really is a great sandwich guys!
The smoky flavour of the eggplant, and the way that it is baked will have you wonder if there actually is bacon in here.
Add some vegan mayonnaise for added richness.
So good! If you are missing egg and tuna wraps during lent, have no fear! You are going to absolutely love our chickpea wraps.
These wraps are full of fiber and good nutrients. We add spinach and sliced cucumber for freshness and a crunchy texture.
These make a perfect take along lunch, and we even make a few extras for a nutritious and easy breakfast on the go.
These are SO good guys! This is our copycat recipe for the Trader Joe’s wrap that we love. A bit spicy and full of complex flavours, you would think that this was a difficult recipe, but it’s not! Once you make it you will make it over and over again.
Enjoy our red lentil and bulgur wraps with tahini coleslaw anytime. You can actually freeze them and thaw them in the refrigerator overnight. This is great for last minute meal ideas.
We actually think our version is better than the original Trader Joe’s wrap. Let us know what you think!
Greeks love to eat dandelion greens (horta). A big bowl of horta, drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice is perfect, but if you are looking for something a little more substantive, grill some bread and top it with your grilled dandelion greens.
You can either use wild picked dandelion greens, or you can purchase them in the grocery store. If you have a garden, these grow really easily so you can even plant your own.
If you are eating dairy, top your grilled bread with dandelion greens with some feta. An extra drizzle of olive oil, and some lemon juice, and you are set!
Vegan oatmeal cups are full of good things! We enjoy these as a snack throughout the day, and even for breakfast.
They are easy, and customizable! Switch the ingredients to ones you prefer (ex. use a variety of nuts, seeds and dried fruit, in same quantities) and enjoy!
The vegan oatmeal cups freeze really well, and we like them cold! Grab a few from the freezer in the morning and by the time you get to work or school they are good to eat!
Dates stuffed with almond butter and coconut are the perfect pick-me-up. Three simple ingredients for the perfect nutritious and filling snack.
These are great vegan and gluten-free snacks. We like to make a few and keep them in the fridge for when the urge for something sweet and satisfying strikes.
You can also use peanut butter or another nut butter instead of the almond butter. Creamy or chunky nut butters would both work just fine.
Even during lent, you can have sweet options. These are helpful especially when you have celebrations like birthdays or anniversaries. We have got a great selection of lenten (nistisima) cakes, cookies and other desserts for you to enjoy. Many are perfect for vegans too!
This is our vegan version of the classic Greek rice pudding called rizogalo. Here we use almond milk instead of dairy milk, and we topped the rice pudding with slivered almonds.
This vegan rice pudding is easy! It is made with arborio rice and is sweetened with maple syrup so there is no refined sugar. Only a few simple ingredients to make a beautiful dessert.
Vegan rizogalo will keep in the refrigerator for several days. You can easily double the recipe.
Halva is a traditional Greek dessert that is very common during periods of lent. There are many versions of this nistisimo recipe. This is a classic version, flavoured with orange and studded with raisins.
Halva is made with semolina that is toasted in olive oil. Liquid is then added, along with any other ingredients like nuts or dried fruit, and it is then cooked on the stovetop until thickened. You transfer it at this point into a mold to set and cool before serving.
Halva is a great dessert to make because it keeps several days in the refrigerator. Enjoy this unique and classic Greek dessert!
This cake is intense with dates! They are in the batter, and he also form the “frosting” on top. This makes the cake incredibly moist, perfectly sweet, and delicious.
This cake freezes really well before you add the topping. If you prefer, you can even serve it without the topping, you can. This will save on effort, calories, and sweetness. It will still be lovely.
This cake is perfect for anyone who is fasting, who is following a plant-based vegan diet, and who is looking for healthier dessert options.
You will not believe that our chocolate and blueberry cake is vegan! This cake is so rich, so moist, so delicious and so easy. We know that it will impress you, and everyone who tries it.
During lent this has often been the cake we serve at celebrations or church luncheons. If you prefer to omit the chocolate glaze on top you can. Instead you can dust the top of this cake simply with some powdered sugar.
This cake can be made with either fresh or frozen blueberries. Without the chocolate glaze this cake freezes really well.
These vegan chocolate and strawberry cookies are almost like mini brownie bites. The outside is firm, and the the inside texture is fluffy and soft.
The secret ingredient is jam! We use strawberry jam to make these cookies. A different jam would give you a different cookie! You can try chocolate and raspberry cookies or chocolate and blueberry cookies. So many options.
These cookies freeze really well. To freeze, place them on a cookie tray and when frozen transfer to a freezer safe bag.
Chocolate and orange go so well together! In this lenten cake, the combination creates a vegan cake that is delicious and perfect for any occasion. You will not believe that this cake contains no eggs, and no dairy.
This chocolate and orange cake freezes really well before you add the glaze. You can either freeze the entire loaf, or cut it into slices and freeze individual portions.
This vegan apple cake is one that you will feel really good about serving your family. We sometimes even serve it for breakfast because it is actually really healthy. At the same time, it is sweet enough for dessert!
This vegan apple cake is loaded with apples, it is sweetened with maple syrup, contains whole wheat flour and has no refined sugar, or oil. The eggs are replaced with ground flaxseeds which are rich with omega-3s.
Store this cake in the refrigerator for several days, or freeze for longer.
Everyone loves banana bread! Now you can enjoy this classic dessert during lent when you are fasting, or if you are vegan.
We like to make this vegan banana bread in a loaf pan, or it will make between 12 – 16 muffins (depending on the size).
You can add dairy free chocolate chips in this recipe, or chopped walnuts if you prefer. You can also omit these additions; the cake is simple and perfect even without them.
Wholesome, delicious and easy. There are only a few ingredients in our tahini honey cookies, and they are all nutritious!
Made with almond flour, tahini and sweetened with honey, these cookies are not only vegan, but they are also gluten-free. They are perfect for lent, and actually perfect for most people!
The sesame seed coating gives these chewy and delicious cookies great flavour and texture. You will not believe that these buttery flavoured cookies are dairy-free.
What is Nistisima (Lenten)?
Nistisima or lenten foods are those which we can enjoy during Orthodox lent. They are recipes which do not contain any meat, dairy, or eggs. The most observant will also fast from oil and wine on certain days. Although many of the recipes are vegan, they are not all vegan. This is because nistisima recipes can include shellfish like shrimp, mussels and calamari. Honey is also often used (for example in our melomakarona cookies), and we realize that many vegans abstain from honey as well.