23 February 2024

20 Italian Recipes for Lent

The Italians know Lenten recipes! The 'Boot' is surrounded by the sea, so seafood is prominent year-round, not just during the Lenten abstinence.

From allrecipes

By Mary Claire Lagroue

While Italy encompasses the Vatican, the seat of the Roman Catholic Church, it's the country's geography that makes its food especially friendly for Lenten fasting. As water surrounds the boot-shaped nation, seafood has a prominent place in its cuisine. Not only that, Italy's abundance of pastas, pizzas, and rice dishes includes vegetarian versions. Here, you'll find seafood and meatless dishes so delicious that your Lenten fast may seem more like a feast.


Chef John's Shrimp Fra Diavolo

shrimp in tomato sauce ove pasta

Shrimp stewed in a flavorful tomato sauce and served over pasta makes an excellent alternative to spaghetti and meatballs. You can't go wrong serving it over rice either, though.


Pasta alla Norma

eggplant pasta with red sauce and Parmesan

Pan-fried eggplant gives this Sicilian pasta dish the meatiness you're craving on a Friday. "This was a great, easy recipe. The family loved it for dinner," home cook Terrana says.


Hearty Vegetable Lasagna

vegetable lasagna on a white plate

You may have a lasagna recipe in your Lenten rotation, but you'll want to replace it with this one. Our Hearty Vegetable Lasagna averages a five-star rating, and reviewers say you can easily adapt it to add spinach, zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, and more.



Manicotti with bread on the side

If you have a little over an hour to spare, dedicate it to making these ricotta- and mozzarella-stuffed pasta shells with our top-rated Manicotti recipe. Reviewers recommend cutting a small hole in a resealable bag to make piping the filling easy.


Italian Shrimp and Scallop Risotto

risotto with shrimp and scallops on a white plate

Another recipe that's well worth the time, our Italian Shrimp and Scallop Risotto balances creamy and lemony with five-star results.


Gnocchi alla Sorrentina

potato gnocchi with tomato sauce and cheese on a white plate

Allrecipes Allstar Buckwheat Queen describes this as a "classic Italian 'primo,' or starter pasta, from the Campania region of Italy," but you'll want to serve it in dinner-sized portions. Use your favorite gnocchi or short pasta, she says.


Uova in Purgatorio (Eggs in Purgatory)

eggs in tomato sauce with bread slices

This traditional Italian egg dish would make an excellent Friday breakfast, lunch, or dinner, especially because it takes just 20 minutes to get on the table.


Calamari Marinara

Calamari Marinara over black pasta

Don't let calamari intimidate you! Chef John will walk you through cooking it till tender, alongside pasta and spicy homemade marinara.


Risotto alla Pavese

red sauce risotto with beans

"Creamy risotto made with fresh cranberry beans comes from the Lombardy region of Italy," Allstar and recipe submitter Buckwheat Queen says. "With traditional flavors from the region, this risotto is bursting with flavor and healthy goodness. Cranberry beans are also called borlotti beans. They are considered 'the poor man's meat' due to their nutritional value."


Authentic Pizza Margherita

Authentic Pizza Margherita on a baking pan

No need to travel to Naples to eat a delicious margherita pizza when you can recreate the city's signature pie in your own kitchen. "Love this recipe," home cook Bev says. "First time making pizza crust and it is better than any I have eaten from a restaurant."


Swordfish a la Siciliana

Swordfish in red sauce with pine nuts, olives, caper

"An ideal 'steak' without the fishy flavor," home cook Teresa Chaffee says. "Even my son enjoyed it, and he is not a fish eater." And with a sweet and briny topping of raisins, tomatoes, green olives, and capers, this Mediterranean-style recipe will have everyone at the table forget about actual steaks.


Riso al Forno (Italian Baked Rice)

rice dish in tomato sauce with cheese

Tomato lovers, you've just found an alternative to risotto in this baked rice dish. Plus, Allstar and recipe creator Buckwheat Queen says you can use leftovers to make arancini.


Eggplant Parmesan II

Eggplant Parmesan II

Bake eggplant slices in the oven instead of frying them for less hands-on time and breading that's just as crispy. "Turned out amazing! All the family loved it and much better than any restaurant eggplant parm," home cook wannaBgourmet says.


Vegan Italian Pasta Salad with Vegetables and Olives

pasta salad with red peppers and kalamata olives

Coated with a paste of pitted Kalamata olives, parsley, capers, red pepper flakes, garlic, vinegar, and olive oil, this pasta salad packs in as much flavor as any meaty dish. Served cold, it's the ideal recipe to make in advance.


Calzagatti (Pan-Fried Polenta and Beans)

pan-fried polenta with beans

For a carby alternative to pasta and pizza, serve Calzagatti (Pan-Fried Polenta and Beans) with an Italian-style salad. Just note that you need to air-dry the polenta until most of the moisture has evaporated, between eight hours to overnight.


Tuscan Fish Stew

fish stew in red sauce

While some home cooks add clams, crab, or scallops to this Tuscan-style stew, sticking to halibut and shrimp (per Chef John's recipe) yields a hearty dinner.


Spaghetti Risottati alle Vongole

spaghetti pasta with clams

"This is one of my family's favorite pasta dishes," Allstar Buckwheat Queen says. "Spaghetti is cooked like a risotto in fresh clam sauce for a flavor-packed dish. A few simple ingredients can create this delicious pasta dish that will wow you. The spaghetti take in the juices of the clams using minimal water."


Pasta with Broccoli Rabe (Cima di Rapa)

Pasta with Broccoli Rabe (Cima di Rapa)

Broccoli rabe, garlic, bread crumbs, cheese, and anchovies team up in a pasta that doesn't need meat to achieve savory, satisfying flavor.


Spaghetti Aglio, Olio, e Peperoncini

spaghetti with olive oil and red pepper flakes

"This is the classic recipe used by Italians for a simple yet flavorful pasta. It's the first dish that comes to mind on busy weeknights," Allstar Buckwheat Queen says. "This is the epitome of comfort food in Italy." In other words, this Lent-friendly pasta may be just what you need to cap the week.


Chickpea Maltagliati e Fagioli

chickpea lasagna stew

This gluten-free, plant-based take on an Italian stew calls for sheets of chickpea lasagna. Together with dried cranberry beans, it contains plenty of protein to hold you over.

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