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Good Friday Menu Suggestions

Help me Chowhounders. I have decided to have friends over for dinner on Friday night and didn't even think about the fact that it was Good Friday. Any menu suggestions you can offer? I am not particularly familiar with foods that are served (or should not be) on this particular day so would welcome any help. Would prefer if I can make ahead or dishes that I don't have to watch too closely as I have a baby in the house and will be restricted to what I can do in between naps and feeding.

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  1. The traditional Good Friday meal is Gumbo Z'herbes http://www.chow.com/recipes/10906 made without meat or seafood.
    As to your question as to which foods may be served on Good Friday, Catholics between the ages of 18 and 59 are obliged to fast on Good Friday. In addition, all Catholics 14 years old and older must abstain from meat on Good Friday and all the Fridays of Lent.
    Seafood Gumbo makes a nice lenten dish for a crowd.

    Seafood Gumbo
    Serves: 6

    “Gumbo” is defined as a Cajun soup containing a roux, thickened with gumbo file. It usually contains a variety of meats and/or seafood, okra, and other ingredients &
    seasonings, and is served over rice.

    Seafood Stock:

    • 2 gumbo crabs and/or 1 cup shrimp shells from 1 pound shrimp
    • ½ gallon water
    • 1 small onion, cut up
    • 2 ribs celery, cut up
    • - stems from one bunch of parsley
    • 1 teaspoon Creole Seasoning


    1. Make the stock by bringing about a gallon of water to a light boil.
    2. Add all the remaining stock ingredients.
    3. Return to a bare simmer and cook for about 30 minutes.
    4. Strain the stock and discard all the solids.

    Note: If you don't want to make a stock from crabs and shrimp shells, make a gallon of stock with Knorr® Shrimp Flavored Bullion Cubes for a good substitute.


    • 2 cups yellow onion, chopped
    • 1 cup bell pepper, seeded and chopped
    • 1 cup celery, thinly sliced
    • 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
    • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    • ½ cup vegetable oil
    • ½ cup flour
    • ½ gallon stock plus water as needed
    • 2 whole bay leaves
    • 1½ teaspoons Creole Seasoning
    • 1¼ teaspoons dried thyme, ground
    • 1 pound (35-count) shrimp, peeled and de-veined
    • 2 gumbo crabs, broken in half
    • 1 14½ ounce can diced tomatoes
    • 1 pint fresh whole oysters
    • 1 10 ounce package frozen cooked okra
    • 1-2 teaspoons filé powder
    • 2 green onion tops, thinly sliced, for garnish


    1. Assemble the chopped onion, celery, bell pepper, parsley and garlic for the gumbo; set aside.
    2. In a black cast iron pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle in flour and, using a wire whisk, stir constantly until brown roux is achieved.
    3. Once roux is golden brown, add onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic.
    4. Sauté approximately 3-5 minutes or until vegetables are wilted.
    5. Slowly add the stock, and all of the seasonings except the filé powder; mix thoroughly.
    6. Raise the heat and bring to a boil, add ½ pound of the raw shrimp, crabs and tomatoes, then lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. Add water as needed. Stir to prevent scorching.
    7. After 30 minutes, fold the remaining ½ pound of raw shrimp, the raw oysters, okra and the reserved oyster liquid into soup.
    8. Simmer until the shrimp turn pink and the oysters start to curl, about 10 minutes.
    9. Remove the pot from the heat and let the simmer die down, then add the filé powder and gently stir.
    10. Let the gumbo stand in the pot for 5 minutes after adding the filé, then serve over a mound of boiled rice. Garnish with the sliced green shallot tops.

    1. My preference is that food for Good Friday be simple. Extravagance on that day has always felt ill-timed to me, so simplicity is the watchword. Gumbo z'herbes is a Louisiana favorite, and might be a simple treat for your guests.

      For me, fish is a necessary part of Good Friday so I might start with a bowl of cream of roasted garlic soup topped with parmesan fricco made the night prior and left in the fridge to meld. A simple pasta tossed with bottarga would come next followed by roast fish with a simply dressed salad of spring greens. For dessert, I would do something bitter and sweet: perhaps a custard (also made the night prior) with burnt caramel grapefruit segments.

      1. Any kind of seafood is acceptable. Why not broil some scallops or haddock with a light cracker crumb topping- serve with roasted asparagus and a wedge of iceburg topped with homemade blue cheese dressing? Sounds like a great good friday meal to me!

        1 Reply
        1. re: MeffaBabe

          We always had fish - usually breaded and baked flounder.

        2. This is an excellent recipe that I like to make in the spring, since it is so fresh-tasting. Use veggie broth in the place of chicken broth to keep it meat-free. I often serve with a roasted asparagus salad as a first course, and have also added cooked asparagus and/or peas to the sauce to get some green in there.

          You can cook the salmon ahead of time and flake it, and make the sauce ahead of time, and then combine it all when you need it (I wouldn't mix the salmon in the sauce ahead of time, or the sauce could become too salmony):

          1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
          1 tablespoon olive oil
          3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (24 fl oz)
          1 cup heavy cream
          1/3 cup vodka
          1/2 teaspoon salt
          1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
          1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
          2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
          1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
          2 cups flaked broiled salmon
          10 oz capellini (angel-hair pasta; about two thirds of a 1-lb box)

          Cook onion in oil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened (but not browned), about 6 minutes. Add broth, cream, vodka, and salt and boil over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until sauce is reduced to 2 cups, 40 to 50 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in dill, lemon zest and juice, and pepper. Reserve 1/2 cup sauce, then add salmon to saucepan and cook over moderately low heat until fish is just heated through, 2 to 3 minutes.
          While fish is heating, cook pasta in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta-cooking water, then drain pasta in a colander. Return pasta to pot, then toss with reserved sauce and cooking water. Serve pasta immediately with fish and sauce spooned over the top.

          1. Because Good Friday carries such profound religious meaning for Catholics, we like to keep the evening meal as simple as possible. No appetizer, no dessert, just a tasty and sustaining fish or pasta dish is all. It's the old Italian way of fasting before feasting on the Holiday. Perhaps, in your case, an artisinal bread with butter and a wonderful salad.... maybe fruit for dessert would be nice.

            1. If any of your guests are observing the day, then anything other than very simple would be in very poor taste. The foods should be of a type that are designed more to sustain the body rather than to gratify the appetite, as it were - it is, after all, the chief penintential day of the year for a majority of Christians. While there are those who might eat only plain boiled grains even without salt or pepper, you needn't go to that penitential extreme as a host.

              A simple soup free of meat or meat products, some bread or other starch, and a salad or simply prepared vegetables. Or perhaps simple omelets, bread and salad. Or grilled cheese sandwiches (cheese and dairy are permitted for Catholics (but not Eastern Christians, who would also be abstaining from fish, wine and oil), but represent the more luxurious end of penitentially permitted foods, as it were) and soup.

              Nothing fancy, et cet.

              1. Why not check with your guests? Different people observe fasting differently and they may have given up nothing - or soemthing you never thought of. If they are fasting for Lent or Good Friday I'm sure they'd be happy to tell you - and would appreciate your asking.

                1. I always thought we were supposed to fast on Good Friday. I know I always do, well at least I try, but I usually end up giving up and eating like a cake or something. Just to reiterate what everyone else has said: no meat just seafood (if that actually makes sense). Usually, one would eat just fish since anything else would be too extravagant and not in keeping with the attitude of the day. So don't be offended if your guests don't eat your food, maybe they're fasting. Stick to basic fish like trout or halibut or whatever. Good luck.

                  1. I would speak to your friends. Everyone's practices differ, and it is possible your friends never thought about it either. You may not have to change your menu at all.

                    1. We always ate just fish, no meat, on Good Friday, usually my mother's Tuna Casserole which is penance enough! So I was curious why some people were fasting completely, and I looked it up, apparently you're allowed just one meal with no meat on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Maybe we fell into the under 14 bracket, my Mom usually followed the rules pretty closely.


                      3 Replies
                      1. re: coll

                        I always want tuna casserole on Good Friday with hot cross buns but hubby hates tuna casserole! And same for hot cross buns. I will sneak in some hot cross buns anyway. We're Episcopalian so we can eat meat if we want but there's something about a tuna casserole....

                        1. re: ginnyhw

                          Tuna casserole is one of those pleasant memories of bygone Lents. I've been craving it all throughout the season, but just couldn't find time in the past 40 days to make it. Perhaps Good Friday for one last "hurrah," as it were.

                          1. re: ginnyhw

                            My mother made Tuna Casserole with potato chips on top, just canned tuna and cream of mushroom soup dumped on top of a pile of noodles. I make a more complicated version now that my husband and I both love luckily. My Mom loved hot cross buns too (Entenmanns) and I think of her every year when I see them for sale, but haven't bought any in many years..... husband never understood or got into them.

                        2. Ha - I did that once. Served Brisket (which was delicious!) Couldn't understand why two of my guests were mostly pushing it around their plates. Found out the next day - I felt terrible. Good thing you realized ahead of time!!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: mirage

                            I'm Catholic and I like to observe the 'no meat on Fridays' rule, more to keep to the tradition than anything else. I had no idea Good Friday was different than any other Lenten Friday. Is there a worse day to have a dinner party ?Hopefully your guests aren't practicing or observing the holiday. Best of luck.

                            1. re: Snorkelvik

                              Well, Good Friday is a day of both abstinence from meat AND a day of fast. Other Lenten Fridays are days of abstinence only. Normally, every parish publishes the Lenten regulations of its diocese at the beginning of Lent, so that all the active faithful are reminded of them....