The Second Sunday in Lent

Tomorrow is March 1st, the Feast of Saint David of Wales. Like many of the ancient British saints, David was a man of particularly ascetic practice. In the monastery he founded at Menevia, simplicity was the rule, and so it was with the food they ate. The monks did not eat meat or drink wine. David himself was called "the waterman" and one of the explanations for this epithet was that he never drank anything but water. In a diet dominated by vegetables, one came to have a particular association with Saint David, the leek. Once, during a battle with Saxon invaders, the Welsh were unable to distinguish between friend and foe on the battlefield. St. David suggested that the Welsh fighters wear a leek on their hats. They did, and they won the battle. Ever since, the leek has been the national symbol of Wales. On Saint David's Day, the tradition is to wear a leek on your lapel or on your hat. Leek cawl (soup) and other dishes made with leeks are eaten on this day. Here is a recipe for leek and potato soup with chicken stock, and here is a Welsh cawl with leeks and lamb. Again, Sundays are not fast days, but this meatless leek pie might be more in keeping with the ascetical practices of the saint.

St David's Leek Pie

Shortcrust Pastry for bottom and top of a 9 inch pie
5-6 leeks
2 Tablespoons butter or cooking oil
1╝ cups milk
2 eggs
╝ cup grated cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Line a 9 inch pie dish with half of the pastry. Trim roots and green tops from the leeks, slice into long strips and wash thoroughly. SautÚ the leeks in butter or oil until soft. Allow the leeks to cool and spread them on the pastry. Beat milk, eggs, salt and pepper together and pour over the leeks. Sprinkle with grated cheese and cover with the remaining pastry, sealing the edges firmly. Pierce the top of the pastry to allow steam to escape. Bake in a preheated oven at 400║F for 40 minutes. Serve hot.

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