The first day of Lent is known as Clean Monday. It is called "clean" because it marks the start of the lenten period during which our bodies and spirits are "cleansed" to preparefor the Resurrection. It is also called Green Monday as a great variety of greens and vegetables is included in the lenten menu.
Clean Monday is a public holiday in Greece and Cyprus, a day of great celebration and traditions.Families take to the beach or countryside for picnics and kite-flying. Children make "Kyra Sarakosti," (Lady Lent), a paper doll with seven legs to represent the seven weeks of Lent. Every week, a leg is cut off to show how many weeks remain until Easter.
Foods during the seven weeks of Lent are fixed according to lenten restrictions. This generally means no meat or fish except for seafood like calamari, cuttlefish, prawns or octopus. But nothing derived from animals or fish with red blood (no milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs, etc.. ) However, Clean Monday has its own traditions, and all over Greece, tables are laid and restaurants stocked with dishes that have been adored for generations.
XTAPODI KRASATO - OCTOPUS IN WINE SAUCE
1 kilo (2lbs 4 oz) octopus
2 onions finely diced
2-3 ripe tomatoes roughly chopped or 1 tin of peeled tomatoes
3-4 cloves chopped garlic
3 bay leaves
1 teacup olive oil
1 glass red wine
1. In a pot lightly sauté the onions and the garlic in the olive oil.
2. Add the octopus whole or cut in small pieces (I added it whole as it wasn't very big) and cook for 10 -15 minutes stirring constantly to avoid sticking to the pot.
3. Pour in the wine, add the tomatoes, the bay leaves, salt and pepper and some warm water.
4. Cook the octopus over low fire for about 1 hour.
The Best Traditional Recipes of Greek Cooking (Editions Haitalis)
Serve as "ouzomeze" - appetizer with ouzo