Today is the first Friday of the Lenten Season. Lent is a special time of prayer, penance, sacrifice and good works in preparation of the celebration of Easter. It is a time of renewal and rebirth.
Even the word itself Lent hold the promise of a brighter future. Lent is derived from the Anglo-Saxon words Lencten, meaning “Spring” and lanceted, literally means Springtide, but also is the word for March, the month in which the majority of the Lenten Season falls. One need only to look around during this time of the year to see that the earth itself springs forth anew. Tender shoots of grass stretch toward the sun. Buds begin to form on the trees. Babies are born in the pastures. The beautiful cycle of life begins again.
In anticipation of the spring planting season, the soil is toiled and made ready. And so it is with our souls during Lent. Christians know the importance of Easter, and the need for a special preparation. The first mention of a 40-day period of fasting and sacrifice to prepare for Easter dates back to 325 AD in the Canons of Nicaea. While many of the restrictions of Lent have been lifted, the benefits of Lent remain. It is a time of personal reflection, of sacrifice and letting go of whatever stands between us and our creator. It is a time of great humility.
There are many ways to observe Lent. Daily prayer and devotion often play a part in the lives of the faithful. And it seems the entire world, believers and nonbelievers alike, joint together in abstinence during Lent. Wendy’s Hamburgers offers a fish sandwich, but only during Lent. Schools offer tuna fish sandwiches as part of their school lunch program. Markets everywhere offer special pricing on seafoods. And we all get to take advantage of that.
In our house, Fridays are, for the most part, observed with a focus on abstinence like the days of old. To set the Fridays of Lent apart from all other Fridays, it’s important to take a moment to focus on the Lord. Psalms is a great source inspiration. With six Fridays of Lent, each day a single verse of scripture reminds us to Shout for Joy.
Lord, open my lips
And my mouth shall proclaim Your praise.
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Brown Butter Fish Florentine
1/4 cup slivered Almonds
1 (9 oz) bag fresh Baby Spinach Leaves
1/2 Red Bell Pepper
1/4 cup Flour
1 lb (1/2-inch thick) Tilapia Fillets
1/2 teaspoon Salt or to taste
1 teaspoon Lemon-pepper Seasoning or to taste
1/4 cup Butter
Heat a dry cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Spread slivered almonds out on the skillet and roast for about 5 minutes or so, stirring frequently, until browning begins. Once the browning process starts, stir constantly until golden in color. Remove from skillet, let cool.
Wash spinach leaves, pat dry and set aside. Stem bell pepper, in half from top to bottom. Reserve half for another purpose, remove seeds from remaining half. Slice thinly and set aside.
In a shallow dish or pie pan, spread out flour for dusting. Set aside.
Cut fish into 4 serving pieces. Season fish with salt and lemon-pepper generously on both sides. Dip fillets in flour to coat, shaking off excess. Set fish aside.
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Stirring constantly, let butter turn to a golden brown, about 3 minutes.
Add fish to the browned butter. Cook fish 6 to 8 minutes, turning one, until the outside is browned nicely and the fish flakes easily with a fork. Remove to a plate, cover to keep warm.
To the now empty skillet, add spinach and bell pepper slivers. Cook for about 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until tender.
Divide spinach mixture among 4 dinner plates. Top spinach with a piece of fish. Sprinkle with toasted almonds just before serving.