For some people who are accustomed to eating meat, it might seem like quite the challenge to create a diverse menu during Lent. You might not even realize how often you reach for a piece of meat to fulfill your protein needs in a meal. It might be a natural reaction, in fact, to merely omit certain elements of the dinner, but the end result is a much more meager spread for you and your family.
Fortunately, with the plethora of vegetarian and vegan options out there these days – including recipes online! – it is surprisingly easy to find a new favorite dish for the Lent season. It doesn’t have to be simple dishes of vegetables. Check out these favorite choices for a Lenten meal that might become a regular item on your dinner menu:
1t olive oil
6c fresh spinach
1c Monterey Jack cheese, shred
1c Swiss cheese, shredded
1t onion powder
1/4t black pepper
1 9-in deep-dish pie crust
1c cherry tomatoes, sliced
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Use a large skilled to heat the oil to medium heat, then add the spinach and wilt it for about a minute. Using a large bowl, beat the eggs with the half-and-half, blending in the cheeses and the spices until well-mixed. Stir in the spinach, add the tomatoes, then pour mixture into the crust. Bake the quiche for 40-45 minutes so that it’s cooked through, rest 5 minutes, and serve in cut wedges.
Broccoli and Cheese Manicotti
8oz manicotti shells
1-32oz container of ricotta
1 1/2c or 6oz mozzarella, shredded and divided
1/4c Parmesan, grated
1/4t black pepper
1-10oz package of frozen broccoli, chopped, thawed, and drained
2c spaghetti sauce
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Use cooking spray to great a 9×13-inch baking dish. Cook the manicotti shells per directions then drain, rinse, and drain. Using a large bowl, combine the cheeses (except a handful of mozzarella) with the egg, salt, and pepper. Mix broccoli into them well. Fill the shells with 1/3c mixture each, placing them in the dish. Pour the sauce over, sprinkle on the remaining cheese, and bake 35-40 minutes until bubbling.
2-15oz cans red salmon, drained, flaked
2-10oz cans condensed cream of celery soup
1-14oz can sliced carrots, drained
4c cooked macaroni
1 small onion, finely chopped
1c or 4oz sharp Cheddar
1/4t black pepper
1/2c plain dry bread crumbs
2T butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and use cooking spray to coat a 9×13-in baking dish. Using a large bowl, combine salmon, soup, carrots, pasta, onion, cheese, milk, and pepper until well mixed, then spoon into the dish. Use a small bowl to mix the crumbs and butter, then sprinkle the mixture evenly over the dish. Bake 45-50 minutes until the topping is golden brown.
Spinach and Cheese Stromboli
1T olive oil
1-10oz package frozen spinach, chopped, thawed, drained
4 cloves garlic, minced,
1c or 4oz mozzarella, shredded
1/2t dried oregano
1-13.8oz package refrigerated pizza dough
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and use cooking spray to grease a baking sheet. Use a large skillet on medium-high heat to heat the oil, then sauté the spinach and garlic in it for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat to cool. Taking a large bowl, combine the cheeses with the spices, add the spinach mixture, and blend well. Roll the dough to a 10×15-inch rectangle and cut in half lengthwise. Cover each piece of dough with the spinach mixture, leaving 1/2 inch around each edge. Fold and pinch edges to create pockets then bake 10-12 minutes until golden brown.
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
1 medium yellow summer squash, thinly sliced
1/2 lb sliced fresh mushrooms
1 small onion, halved, sliced
1 medium carrot, julienned
1/2t black pepper
1T canola oil
8-8″ flour tortillas, warmed
2c cheddar, shredded
1c sour cream
Use a large cast-iron or heavy skillet to cook vegetables with salt and paper and oil. Once slightly crispy (after 5-7 minutes), take a slotted spoon and put about 1/2c of the mixture on each tortilla. Sprinkle each with 1/4c of the cheese, top with the sour cream and the salsa, then fold the fajita. Add beans to the recipe if desiring additional protein.
Southern Shrimp and Pasta
8oz linguine or spaghetti, uncooked
4T butter, divided
1/2 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 small green pepper, chopped
1 lb uncooked shrimp (31-40 per lb), peeled, deveined
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2c Romano, grated
Fresh parsley, chopped, per taste
Cook the pasta per its packaged directions then drain it and keep warm. Start a large skillet with 2T of the butter over a medium to high heat, sauté the mushrooms and peppers until tender, season with salt and pepper, and remove them from the pan. Add the shrimp and the rest of the butter into the pan, turn to the same heat level, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the garlic, cooking and stirring the ingredients for about 1-2 minutes and until the shrimp turn pink. Add the vegetable mixture until warm, then serve over the pasta. Sprinkle with the Romano cheese and parsley, as desired.
Don’t forget beans, lentils, quinoa, and peas are great additional proteins to add. Beans, in fact, are so flexible that they can be thrown into nearly any dish, soup, or dip and seasoned as you like. Rice and beans with a vegetable dish alone are a hearty meal. You might be surprised, but eating during the Lent season is pretty easy and very delicious after all!