Going Meat-Free for Lent? Try These Delicious Italian Fish Dishes

In the UK, when Lent is observed at all, it’s often just a tool for cutting out that cheeky chocolate you’ve been allowing yourself a little too often, or those sugary treats you just can’t turn down when they’re offered. But in Italy, which is still a very Catholic country, Lent is observed much more rigorously, with many Italians giving up meat for the whole 40 days. And if you know anything about Italians, you’ll know that’s a pretty big deal – there’s not much we love more than our food, and cutting out a whole chunk of the traditional Italian diet is quite the sacrifice for us.

But whether you’re Catholic or not, Lent is still a good time to go meat-free. After all, we know that it’s a good idea to start reducing our meat intake, since it reduces the risk of everything from heart disease to cancer. And if the prospect of giving up your burger habit leaves you cold, then you just need to follow in Italy’s footsteps. Italians have come up with plenty of appetising dishes that make Lent a much more interesting culinary event than you might expect, with fish and seafood filling the gap left by red meat. Here are three of Italy’s favourite fish dishes for you to try – with their help you might find yourself not missing meat at all!

Sicilian-Style Swordfish

Swordfish makes up a small but significant part of Sicily’s historic fishing industry, so it should come as no surprise that at Diforti we have fond memories of seeing fresh swordfish in the markets, cooked up at home later in traditional Sicilian style. We recommend grilling the swordfish, then adding a marinade for the last few minutes. Try a lemon and garlic marinade with Diforti’s own olive oil for a light, zesty taste.


There are a number of traditional fish stews and soups in Italy – you’ll find they vary from region to region, with each having its own (often strongly-held) opinions on what makes for a good fish stew. Ciuppin is the favoured option of Liguria, a region in north-west Italy. A coastal region, Liguria naturally has a lot of seafood-heavy meals, year-round, and Ciuppin arises from that tradition. It’s originally supposed to be the product of the leftovers from market stalls, with everything that was left lying around at the end of the day thrown in a pot with herbs, vegetables and olive oil and cooked up. Typical fish include mullet, bream, scorpion fish, piper and tub fish, though you have plenty of options if you want to do something different.

Flounder Mediterranean

This is a light dish that has that typical Italian sparkle. It’s flounder baked with fresh tomatoes, Kalamata olives, capers, onions, and usually white wine. It’s a favourite for Lent, and you’ll often find it on new menus at restaurants over the period, as eateries adjust what’s on offer to account for new tastes.

Introduce more seafood into your diet with Diforti’s Italian food shop. Our seafood salad is a great place to start, light and tasty with an authentic Italian coastal flavour. We’re very proud of our stuffed squid and anchovies as well – they always remind us of our Sicilian heritage. And if you want to try something a bit different, have a look at our chopped octopus, a real Italian favourite. Remember that cutting out meat for Lent doesn’t mean sacrificing on taste – with Italian seafood at your disposal, there’s plenty of culinary options for you to try.


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