Just a few short years ago we relied on traditional family recipes to fill the gaps during Lenten fasting, but now the internet introduces many ideas that are new to us. If you’re not Christian or not practicing fasting this year, these dishes give you an opportunity to try stripping meat from your diet on a regular basis (say once a week). Many are cheaper to prepare and healthier than some dishes with fatty meats and can still be quite satisfying and filling.
Lent fasting is practiced by Christians from Ash Wednesday (the 7th Wednesday before Easter Sunday) to midnight Easter Saturday as penance and a spiritual tool for reflection. Some are stricter than others, for example those in the Eastern Orthodox Church also remove butter, eggs, cheese and milk from their diet. Catholics & many Protestants remove meat from their diet on Fridays with fish and most seafood ok (some abstain from all meat, fish and seafood during the entire Lent season) and others make a personal choice to also remove treats from their diet like chocolate, desserts, alcohol, etc. Sundays remain a day of celebration and are fasting-free, which gives 40 fast days for Lent.
The recipes I chose for this collection are an interesting mix from around the ‘net, some fish and octopus (don’t know if I can do that!), a tofu cake, hearty meals and light snacks–many are basic while some a bit more exotic or cultural favorites. I do have separate lists for Tuna Casseroles  and Eggplant Recipes . Stretch your menu muscles a bit and you might find some new family favorites!
Quick Tips: Mix cooked lentils with leftover veggies and/or rice for a tasty meal. You can learn how to cook lentils on this page  if they’re new to you and you’re not sure how. Another simple yet satisfying idea is to make vegetable stock (it’s so easy and you can use scraps too! See this page  for all the details) and add pasta, rice, leftover vegetables or whatever you like for a delicious, hearty soup.
*Note: Descriptions below are quotes from the reference sites
- Roasted Vegetable & Pasta Casserole : Two kinds of cheese and lots of veggies create an inviting pasta casserole. Be sure to check out the do-ahead tip. From Betty Crocker.
- Pizza with Ricotta, Artichokes, and Onions : A simple pizza made with store-bought pizza dough, part-skim ricotta cheese, marinated artichoke hearts, sliced red onion, coarse salt and ground pepper. From Martha Stewart.
- Bean & Butternut Tacos with Green Salsa : Beans and roasted butternut squash make an outstanding vegetarian taco filling. For the best flavor, use fresh, good-quality chili powder and Mexican oregano. Look for both at Latin markets or in the bulk spice section at well-stocked natural-foods stores. From Eating Well.
- Cheesy Zucchini Enchiladas : These cheesy meatless enchiladas are delicious, packed with fiber so they are filling and easy to make – vegetarian or not. Perfect topped with chopped cilantro, scallions or jalapeños and some low fat sour cream. From Gina’s Skinny Recipes.
- Vegetable Lo Mein : Slippery noodles, crunchy bean sprouts, and a rich and glossy soy-ginger sauce. It’s savory and slightly salty but balanced by the sweet warmth of brown sugar and toasted sesame oil. It’s light and filling, and just as satisfying as the real thing. From Can You Stay For Dinner?
- Chickpea Croquettes : Even though these chickpea croquettes or patties are cooked in olive oil, I would hardly call them fried. It’s more like a deep saute, which creates a lovely crusty and browned outer layer that gives way to a flavorful interior. From So Good And Tasty.
- 15 Minute Creamy Avocado Pasta : Creamy, thick, and rich with lots of garlic flavour and a hint of lemon. This is my newest favourite pasta dish. The avocado works wonderfully in this recipe to create a sauce so creamy and thick, you will think there is cream hiding in there. Found at Oh She Glows.
- Veggie Wraps or Grilled Cheese : Add half a roasted red pepper to classic grilled cheese on whole-grain bread. Or line a flour tortilla with baby spinach leaves and sliced roasted red peppers. Sprinkle with diced garlic and basil feta cheese, and roll up burrito-style. From Cooking Light.
- Cauliflower & Chickpea Curry : Serves 4 to 6. You can eat this on its own, with steamed rice, or you can cheat by going to your local and buying some naan bread. From The Guardian.
- Goat Cheese and Swiss Chard Casserole : While this recipe calls for small shell pasta, feel free to use whatever shaped pasta you have on hand. From The Kitchn.
- Vegetable Casserole : Ingredients include canned cannellini beans, canned garbanzo or fava beans, basil pesto, chopped onion, minced garlic, polenta, sliced tomato, shredded Italian cheese blend, fresh spinach, torn radicchio and seasonings. From Better Homes And Gardens.
- Makeover Spinach Tuna Casserole Recipe : This is a thick, gooey Spinach Tuna Casserole from Taste Of Home.
- Fish Tacos : If you’ve never been to So Cal, the idea of a fish taco might sound…odd (I’ve gotten plenty of dirty looks from East Coasters). Fried fish tacos came to us by way of Baja California (Mexico) where you can buy the delicious little treats from taco stands that line the streets in seaside towns in Baja. They are nothing like your typical beef/chicken tacos, so I encourage you to give them a try. Branch out with your Mexican cuisine! Found at Healthy Twists.
- Beans, Bread and Baby Octopus : For the next few posts, you get to enjoy a recap of the Lenten Feast I presented last weekend. Each time I’ll breakdown a trio or so of dishes so that you too may prepare and enjoy in the comfort of your own home! Found at Kalofagas.
- Tried and True Lenten Recipes : Hummus, Spinach Rice, Juddra, Farina Pudding, Bean Soup, Lentil Soup, Lenten chocolate cake, Applesauce cake, Vegetable soup, Corn Bread, Apple Cake, Pistou, Phad Thai, Crock pot marinara sauce, Vegetarian Chili. Found at cblankens.
- Lentil Soup (Low Fat) : And what could be more appropriate for Lent than Lentil Soup- like my play on words? This is a nice, easy and cheap dinner for any night of the week. Enjoy! Found at Our Little Monkeys.
- Fabulous Fish : Recipe: Pan-Seared Fish with Lemon Dill Mayonnaise. Found at Circle Of Food.
- Nistisima – Food for the Soul : A motherload of recipes here, you’ll find seafood, main dishes, bean dishes, soups, snacks and lots more. Found at Kopiaste.
- Vegetable Lasagna : Fresh spinach, broccoli, and zucchini are tucked between layers of lasagna noodles, ricotta, mozzarella, and creamy white sauce. The best! From Delish.
- Meatless Lasagna and Shrimp Creole : There are some wonderful recipes, and here are two that will be wonderful for those meatless, penitential days (including the Ember Days of Lent, which is this Wednesday, Friday, Saturday). The following recipe can be made ahead and just save the baking time (1 1/2 hours) for later. A recipe fit to serve to guests on Friday. Found at Catholic Cuisine.
- Lenten Bread : I thought some of you might like to make a quick, nutritious homemade bread to add to your simple meals today too. Found at Faith & Family.
- Red Lentil & Artichoke Stew : Ingredients include yellow onions, minced garlic cloves, ground cumin, ground coriander, dry red lentils, bay leaf, fresh lemon juice, chopped tomatoes, artichoke bottoms, crushed red papper flakes (optional), water, salt and pepper. From Fatfree Vegan Recipes.
- Salmon Patty : These are yummy with homemade tartar sauce (mayonnaise with pickle relish) or ketchup or whatever you like. And they’re so simple to make even I can do it! Found at The Zahn Zone.
- Japanese Thai Tofu Cake : I wouldn’t even call it a recipe. It is very simple. I am keeping all the food simple for Lent. This is a very economical dish which is also in keeping with the lenten spirit of austerity. The package costs about two dollars so a serving (1 piece) was about 50 cents plus a few pennies for the sauce. Found at Kits Chow.
- Frugal Friday: Mom’s Rice and Bean Vegetarian Enchiladas : My family loves these enchiladas. It is my own recipe so there is no measuring. You can add as much or as little ingredients that will fit your family size. Found at Soul Pockets.
- Seafood Chowdah’ : This recipe has been adapted from Ina Gartner’s Lobster Corn Chowder and can be Lent suitable with the omission of the bacon. Found at SAHM I am.
- Shrimp & Scallop Crepes Etouffee : Now that Lent is here, I have even more incentive to try new seafood recipes to incorporate more sustainable seafood into our diet. This was actually our Shrove Tuesday pancake meal, but we will definitely be making it again. Shellfish is loaded with nutrients (scallops with vitamin B12) and while my son isn’t yet slurping raw oysters, he has no problem eating shrimp or fried clam strips. This was the first time I tried giving him scallops, and he was skeptical but ate several bites. Scallops overcook very quickly, so don’t make the mistake I did of cooking the seafood first — cook the crepes and keep them warm in the oven while you prepare the etouffee and scallops. Found at FoodieTots.
- Shrimp & Olive Pasta With Wisconsin Parmesan Cheese : Found at Wisconsin Cheese.
- Honey Citrus Grilled Tuna : Grilling is popular at my house and fresh tuna steaks are one of my favorite things to grill. We enjoy them just brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt but sometimes we want somethings a little different. This is a great marinade for tuna or any firm fish. The easy part of marinating fish is that it marinates quickly. It only takes 30 minutes to an hour. Found at Panino Lover.
- Bigoli With Onions, Anchovies & Tuna : It pleases me to know that this humble plate of bigoli with onions, anchovies and tuna epitomizes la festa but in a truly historical sense. What initially began as an innocent dish of polenta with herring is still being celebrated today in the town of Castel d’Ario (Mantova) each year on Ash Wednesday – that’s an impressive 150+ years later. Found at Rubber Slippers in Italy.
- Seafood Stews In A Jiffy : Seafood is considered by many to be the food of Lent and thus is associated by some with deprivation. To others, eating seafood doesn’t seem like a sacrifice at all. For discriminating diners, a seafood stew is the elegant entree par excellence. A handful of different recipes from The Washington Times.
Update: Here’s a tuna skillet/hot dish that was previously published, moving it here for convenience…
1 can sliced mushrooms (10oz)
2 TBS soya sauce
2 TBS butter
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup onion (finely chopped)
1/2 cup celery (sliced)
1/2 cup green pepper (sliced)
1 can tuna (about 7oz, drained)
1 1/2 TBS cornstarch
1 cup sour cream
- In a large pan melt the butter then sauté onions until tender. Add celery, green pepper, mushrooms and tuna.
- In a small bowl or large mug, mix water and soya sauce together, then stir in cornstarch until lumps are gone. Add to frying pan.
- Stir everything together until well mixed, cook until thickened and vegetables are tender.
- Reduce heat and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in sour cream, mix well and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes.
Serve over cooked noodles or rice.