Savoring the blessings of the sea on the Feast of the Assumption

Stained glass window of the Assumption of Mary, St. Mary Cathedral, Trenton.

Stained glass window of the Assumption of Mary, St. Mary Cathedral, Trenton. Jeanne Kysela photo

Each year of my childhood and young adulthood that I can remember, the family came together for a seafood meal as the culmination of solemnities marking the Feast of the Assumption.
We lived at the Shore where the feast was known simply by many as “Salt Water Day” – focusing around Mass and then a stroll to the water. There, we paid homage to the age old tradition that as the Blessed Virgin rose to heaven on this day so long ago, her tears cascaded into the oceans, turning them into healing waters.
Pious belief has it that the healing essence of the water returns every year on this day, so we’d dip our feet in the water for good health and carry some home in buckets and bottles to share with those unable to make the trip down to the beach.
These days, with the family scattered, a gathering of the clan on special feast days is often possible only on via the internet and I thank God it’s there to link us all from Jersey, to California, to India! The day is spent instead with good friends who still hug the shoreline. Following Mass, we’ll trek off to the beach and following that, we’ll share a traditional seafood meal that always seems to involve at least one really great shrimp recipe.

The one presented here today, is adapted from a favorite cookbook – The Best of the Best from the Junior League. It’s a snap to make and a savory treat.
For luncheon fare, those who favor salmon should enjoy the recipe for salmon burgers adapted from the internet.

Shrimp with Feta Sauce


-1/2 cup minced sweet onion
-1-1/2 cup tablespoon butter
-1-1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
-1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)
-4 ripe medium Jersey tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
-1 small clove garlic minced
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
-3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
-4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
-1 pound large uncooked shrimp, shelled and deveined
-1 pound spinach pasta, cooked according to package directions
-1/2 cup chopped parsley

Directions: In a heavy skillet, saute the onion in the butter and oil until soft. Add the wine, tomatoes, garlic, salt, pepper and oregano. Simmer until the sauce is slightly thickened. Stir in the feta cheese and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes longer. Just before serving, add the shrimp to the simmering sauce and cook 5 minutes or until the shrimp are just tender. Be careful not to overcook. Serve over spinach pasta and garnish liberally with parsley for color. Crusty French bread and a crisp green salad complete the meal.

Salmon Burgers

-1 cup finely chopped red onion
-1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
-1 (1 pound) salmon filet, skinned and chopped
-1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce (optional)
-1 egg white from large egg
-Your favorite cooking spray
-8 (¾-ounce) slices of focaccia, toasted

Directions: Combine the first five ingredients in a large bowl. Combine hot pepper sauce and egg white in a small bowl; add egg white mixture to salmon mixture, stirring well to combine. Divide the mixture into 4 equal portions, shaping each into a patty. Heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Coat the pan with cooking spray. Add salmon patties and cook 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness, serve with tartar sauce on side and garnishes of lettuce and tomato.


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