Gemelli with cherry tomatoes and chickpeas. Lois Rogers photo
Gemelli with cherry tomatoes and chickpeas. Lois Rogers photo
The Holy Season of Lent is a time when folks may be looking for tasty, easy-to-prepare meatless meals. Over the years, The Monitor’s freelance writer Lois Rogers has created a library of meals in her Keeping The Feast column.

I never envied home cooks who had to come up with a variety of meatless meals on the Fridays during Lent.

Times may be different now, with all kinds of vegetarian, vegan and plant-based or faux-meat options. But back in the day, it took a real degree of creativity to come up with seven dinners devoid of beef, pork or chicken.

Where meatless meals were concerned in our house, there was no pleasing everyone. My brother Pete, for instance, wouldn’t eat fish, and the only way Mom got him to chow down on fried flounder, which I loved, was to convince him his was eggplant. My brother Mark hated eggplant and most vegetables, so it was no good pulling that trick on him.

Still, Mom persisted, managing to intersperse the seafood Dad and I craved with meals still remembered fondly as among her signature Lenten dishes. Pasta, of course was a mainstay, with or without fish. Over the years, I’ve honored her memory by including many of them in the Lenten recipes of Keeping the Feast.

This week, though, I offer one of my own – a light composition of Gemelli pasta with cherry tomatoes and chickpeas, tossed together with Feta cheese and Kalamata olives.

I’m fussy about the pasta in a recipe and chose Gemelli – it means twins in Italian – for sentimental reasons, as it always brings back memories of the diocesan pilgrimage to Rome that I went on in 2000. Its shape – two strands of pasta twisted together – lends itself to holding whatever sauce is used while retaining the firm “al dente” texture recommended in the package directions of most brands.

The cherry tomatoes, cooked just to blistering, are about the tastiest you can do until warmer weather comes along. They add some zing to the chickpeas. The feta and Kalamata olives bring a real Mediterranean taste to the table.

This recipe, which serves four, is a good Lenten dish for a family on the go on Friday nights. Table-ready in just about 30 minutes, there’s also minimal clean up time, making it the perfect choice before or after Stations of the Cross at your parish.


Table Blessing

Blessed are you, 

Lord God of all creation, 

for it is from your goodness, 

that we have this food, 

and the graces you give us 

in preparing and sharing it.

Source: Praying Lent, Creighton University