Fridays Without Fish
Over the last few days I’ve seen several requests for ideas for Lenten meals that are not fish.
I have to be honest, I had not even thought about this as a need. I’ve eaten all along the continuum from pescatarian through ovo-lacto vegetarian to vegan (as well, of course, as meat-eating) for so long that I take it for granted. But this morning, as I started to type “Well, we had homemade meatless chili last night and added some cheese…” yet again, I realized that it would be useful to have these ideas in one handy place. And, look – I have a blog – just the place to put ideas about food!By Request - a Round up of #meatless meals - great #Lent or #MeatlessMonday options! (#Fridays don't have to be fish...)Click To Tweet
Now, since I had not planned this, these are all my own recipes – I did not have time to look or ask for other blogger’s recipes. I will therefore start out by pointing out a few sources for you to find others. Remember that not only are there more vegetarians in the US than ever, but many people, like me, who do eat meat also eat meatless meals. And many choose to specifically do this as Meatless Monday – which has become a common tag or search term for meatless meals. (As is, of course, Vegetarian or Vegan.)
Another terrific source of recipes is Yummly, which has a wonderful search engine. If you set up an account, you can enter your own dietary needs and preferences. but even without signing in, you can search for, say, Meatless Dinners. (You can even, more specifically, search for a certain type of meatless recipe!)
So, on to half a dozen meals – one for each week. (Sorry, I obviously should have written this a week ago, but…)
Let’s start with soup. I have two bean soups here. I’m sure that all of you who are old hands at this already remember lentil soup, and split pea soup, and an assortment of other bean soups that can all be made easily – and deliciously – without any meat. (And there are a few recipes for them on Inhabited Kitchen, if you need one…) But these are a little different.
First, we have Creamy Tomato and Navy Bean Soup. Astonishingly creamy for a dairy free soup. Insanely easy if you use canned beans (or have cooked on hand.) Comfort food at its best when March winds howl… Note: I call for “broth” – leaving you the choice. Obviously if you are making a meatless Lenten dish, use a light vegetable broth, or (if you have and use it) one of the vegetarian broth bases. Or even just water…
Red Lentil Coconut Soup is just a little more fuss, and feels a little fancier, a little more exotic. Nice if you’re starting to get bored… It is also remarkably smooth and creamy, and cooks in under half an hour.
Moving on – as long as I’m talking about recipes with no animal products… The Medieval Lenten Fast avoided all animal products except fish and seafood – and some of the Eastern Orthodox churches still do so. (And other churches or individuals may choose to do so, for their own reasons. I have a friend who often does.) And of course, some need to avoid dairy or eggs all the time for entirely different reasons… The soup recipes are both fine for that, as is this (very nontraditional!) Chipotle Tofu. You can just slice and eat it plain, either hot or cold, as you would a piece of meat, you can add it to rice bowls, you can make a sandwich of it…
Speaking of sandwiches… peanut butter, of course (or almond or sun butter…) is an option. The various hummus or bean spread recipes in Inhabited Kitchen are thick enough to be used as a sandwich spread, too. And of course, egg salad, and cheese are traditional options.
Which brings us to eggs and cheese. Many people who typically eat meat find a meatless meal that does contain eggs or dairy more satisfying. I remember my father being polite but dubious about eating at a vegetarian restaurant, once. But when we found it was closed, and went to another place, he happily ate the house special quiche without even noticing it had no meat! (My mother delicately pointed it out at the end of the meal…)
So I start with a quiche! A Chard Crustless Quiche – but you can make it with any kind of cooked greens. Spinach is always available, and by April Spring greens may be in – broccoli rabe would be magnificent… or new, baby kale. Again, it’s good hot or cold – it was my go to dish for potlucks for several years. People always liked it.
We liked it so much that over time, it changed in my hands… once I added grain, it was (Not Your Mama’s) Spinach Casserole. I varied the cheese, I did use spinach, it’s not quite the same… though I would not serve one the day after the other! Do try this one with feta…
And, finally, a classic Eggs Florentine. Why, yes, there is a lot of spinach in these choices… Partly, it goes so beautifully with eggs and dairy. Mostly, though, I selected Spring dishes, and apparently I eat a lot of spinach in Spring! Some of the other meatless choices were, for instance, chickpeas with winter squash, but I’m not going to suggest you serve winter squash in April… even if you find some, it’s too heavy.
Most of these recipes feed two, as is, but a lovely way around that, for a larger family, would be to serve a cup of, say, the tomato soup first, and then the spinach casserole. Each brings out the best in the other, they complement each other well nutritionally as well as in flavor, and the two together will satisfy almost anyone.
As much as specific recipes, I hope this gives you ideas, both about what to cook and where to find new ideas. And if you like them, consider having an occasional meatless meal the rest of the year, too – if nothing else, I feel it gives me more variety! And, well – it is a way to remember our responsibility as stewards of the earth and all that walk upon it… I feel that it is good, sometimes, to choose my food for reasons that go beyond my own desires, and even need.