Today is the Ember Wednesday of Lent, and for those who observe the tradition of the Ember Days, it is a day of strict fasting and abstinence. And few Christians practice fasting and abstinence as well as the Eastern Orthodox. So we continue our trip through the Lenten cuisine of Europe today with Lent recipes from Serbia, a predominantly Eastern Orthodox country. With names such as pasulj, prebranac, djuvece, posna sarma, and pogacha, they sound quite a bit more exotic than they really are—white bean soup, baked beans, vegetable casserole, vegetarian cabbage rolls, and bread, respectively. Having spent 12 days in Serbia back in 2005, I can assure you that they are all quite delicious.
You may be surprised to notice that none of the recipes contain eggs, milk, or cheese (or any dairy, such as sour cream, for that matter). That's because the Serbs, like all Eastern Orthodox, maintain the traditional strict fast—avoiding not only meat but all dairy and eggs throughout Great Lent (as the Orthodox call it). And when I write "throughout Great Lent," I don't mean simply on the Fridays of Lent, but every day from Clean Monday (the first day of Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Lent) until Great and Holy Saturday.
If you've ever considered abstaining from meat throughout Lent, or even just giving it up more than once per week, these Serbian Lent recipes, compiled by Barb Rolek, the Expert at About Eastern European Food, are definitely the place to start. And many of them would make wonderful side dishes throughout the year as well.
You can find Barb's recipes, as well as recipes from other About.com Food Experts, in Lenten Recipes: Meatless Recipes for Lent and Throughout the Year.