Poachedsalmon scaled

Seafood Suggestions for Lenten Meals

Sole with tomatoes, capers and lemon butter.

Recipes | By Margaret M. Johnson

Lent began this week, and for those who observe it Ash Wednesday means fast and abstinence. For my part, I like to “suggest” some meatless ideas that are good for Lenten Fridays, and for that matter, any other day as well. With so many delicious ways to use fish, it’s hardly a sacrifice any longer to cook it several times a week. I’ve used the salmon roulade recipe for more than a decade and find it suits for both lunch and dinner. It originated at a small country house in West Cork where seafood is plentiful and popular; serve it with brown bread. For a more substantial meal, you’ll find both the Poached Salmon with Tarragon-Leek-Butter Sauce and Pan-Seared Sole with Tomatoes and Capers totally guilt-free; serve these with boiled new potatoes or Colcannon.

Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter

Sign up today to get daily, up-to-date news and views from Irish America.



4 sole fillets, rinsed and patted dry

Sea salt

Ground black pepper

Flour, for dredging

2 tablespoons canola oil

4 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 teaspoons capers, rinsed under cold water

4 cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

10 lemon segments

Lemon wedges, for serving

1. Sprinkle both sides of fish with salt and pepper. Dredge with flour, shaking off excess; transfer to a plate.

2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil. Add 2 tablespoons of butter; quickly swirl pan to coat. When foam subsides, add fish; cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until browned.

3. Carefully turn fish over; cook for 1 to 2 minutes longer, or until browned and almost translucent in center.

4. Divide fish between two warmed plates; tent with aluminum foil. Pour off cooking juices; wipe pan with a paper towel. Return skillet to stove over medium-high heat; melt remaining butter. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in parsley, lemon juice, capers, tomatoes and lemon segments.

5. To serve, remove foil and spoon sauce over fish. Garnish with lemon wedges and serve with potatoes.




1/3 cup dry white wine

1/3 cup fish stock or clam broth

1 carrot, peeled and sliced

1 celery stalk with leaves, cut into 4 pieces

2 tablespoons minced fresh dill

Six 6-ounce center-cut salmon fillets with skin


Ground black pepper

Lemon slices, fresh dill, and fresh tarragon, for garnish


1 shallot, minced

1 leek (white part only), washed and sliced

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

3 tablespoons dry white wine

12 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh tarragon or 1/2 teaspoon dried


White pepper

1. Make salmon. In a large skillet over medium heat, combine wine, stock or broth, carrot, celery stalk, leaves and dill. Place salmon fillets, skin side down, in skillet; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover skillet tightly; simmer over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, or until salmon is barely opaque in center.

2. Remove from heat; let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Transfer salmon to platter; discard poaching liquid. Cover salmon with plastic wrap; keep warm while preparing sauce, or chill at least 4 hours and serve cold.

3. Make sauce. In a small saucepan, bring shallot, leek, vinegar, and wine to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; cook, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, or until liquid is reduced to about 2 tablespoons. Whisk in butter, one tablespoon at a time; add tarragon, salt and pepper. Keep warm in a double boiler over hot water or reheat over gentle heat. Serve salmon with sauce, potatoes and steamed cabbage, if desired.



1 small cabbage, cored, quartered, and shredded

2 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

3 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

1 small leek (white and green parts), washed and sliced

1/2 cup milk


Ground black pepper

1. In separate medium saucepans, cook cabbage and potatoes in salted boiling water for about 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain cabbage and chop; drain potatoes and mash. Combine in a large bowl with butter.

2. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine leeks and milk. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until leeks are tender. Stir into potato mixture and season with salt and pepper.



Walnut Vinaigrette

3 tablespoons roasted walnut oil

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar


Ground black pepper


3/4 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons Irish whiskey

1 pound fresh crabmeat

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

8 slices smoked salmon

3 cups mixed greens

1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cut into 8 slices

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1. Make vinaigrette. Combine oils, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a sealable jar; cover, and shake until blended.

2. Make roulades. In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise and whiskey. Stir in crabmeat and fennel seeds. Spread crabmeat mixture onto slices of salmon; roll up into cylinder shapes. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

3. To serve, divide mixed greens among four salad plates. Place two roulades and two slices of avocado on each; sprinkle with walnuts. Drizzle vinaigrette over greens. Serve with soda bread.

Margaret Johnson’s “Recipes” page expands this year to “Ireland Hopping: Adventures in Food, Drink, and Travel.” For further details on her work, or to order her cookbooks, visit irishcook.com.