Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Meatless Meal from Grace Before Meals

Imagine my surprise when I looked over yesterday's front page of The Washington Post and saw this photograph and article: A Maestro of the Soul Kitchen: Md. Priest's Culinary Art Adds Zest to Ministry. Well, you might not understand my surprise, so I'll explain that I had Father Leo E. Patalinghug's book, Grace Before Meals: Recipes for Family Life sitting in front of me this week, as I was planning my meatless meals for Lent. I was actually considering sharing a recipe from his book for Catholic Cuisine.

So the article (which is wonderful, by the way) really has motivated me to post my recommendation for his book. His site provides a more thorough description of Father's work and writings.

Father tries to "preach the importance of the dinner table in family life. The family that cooks and eats together stays together, he says." His book tries to focus on conversations around the family meal, with many themes around the Liturgical Year. His section on Lenten Sacrifice I really enjoyed, particularly:
The tradition of abstaining from meat products during Lent reminds us of the staple of food in Jesus' time: fish. In fact, the Greek phrase "Jesus Christ is Lord" creates the acronym "FISH" in that language. Eating fish is a reminder of Jesus!
He then goes on to explain about sacrifice, and how our Friday meals should be both frugal and sacrificial. "God will give you creative ideas for making this sacrifice a truly special time of worship in word and deed."

I also enjoyed this text box: "Meals on Lenten Fridays should be more than cheese pizzas. They should be about creating flavors from simple ingredients."

I won't share the recipes from the book, but this recent post from his blog would be a marvellously simple Friday meal, with FISH included. And our family could easily substitute with rice spaghetti to make this allergy safe for us.
Spaghetti al Vongole (Spaghetti and Clams)
1/2 pound spaghetti or linguine
16 ounce can clams (or 1 1/2 -2 pounds of fresh baby clams, washed and cleaned)
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1-2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely minced
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup chicken broth (or vegetable)
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoons black pepper

Boil water in pot and cook pasta until al dente. In a large skillet, heat olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter together over high heat. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, and 1 tablespoon of parsley and saute. If using a can, add the clams and half the juice from the can. If using fresh clams make sure they are wash and soaked in cold water so that there is no sand. Add the fresh clams and stir together. Add the white wine, broth, and salt and pepper. Cover the pan and cook until the clams begin to open up. When pasta is cooked, drain water (leave about 2 tablespoons of starchy pasta water for later). Add pasta to the pan and mix together. Add the starchy water, the rest of the butter, and salt and pepper. Top off with fresh parsley.
Find out more at his website: Grace Before Meals. Pin It


  1. I love Fr. Leo's blog and Kotch went to a Dominican retreat last year in Nashville where Fr. Leo was the retreat master! She bought me a copy of his book and didn't even know that I would know who he was! I didn't even THINK to look in there for ideas .... duh!


  2. This dish is actual a traditional Christams Eve Italian dish for us. My husband is half Italian and I highly suggest this yummy meal.