[Updated: February, 2020] 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 meals 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, olive oil, milk, wine and seafood with backbones and-or blood 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 Dishes. 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 prepare 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.
P.S. Don’t miss the instructions at the bottom of this article for making an authentic Greek Lagana Bread. Easy-peasy to bake and lovely year-round, though traditionally made only to be eaten on Clean Monday (Greek Orthodox).
*Note: Descriptions below are mainly quotes from the reference sites
- Instant Pot Chickpea Curry: (Vegan) A fast & easy weeknight meal that you can throw together in minutes using your electric pressure cooker. I love how flavorful it is! Detoxinista.
- Lemony Pasta w/ Mushrooms & Spinach: A nice, fresh, full-of-flavor dish. Medium-size Noodles are best (like cassarecce, penne, rigatoni or medium shells). InForum.
- Baked Sweet Potato & Egg Boats: (just skip the bacon, still excellent). Can make bowls too, just freeze portions of the sweet potato ahead of time (fully baked). Thaw & heat then top with scrambled eggs. Drizzling sriracha over it all is a must! Will Cook For Friends.
- Tuna Chickpea Salad: This is a meal in itself and can be prepped days in advance (though keep aside the arugula and the dressing, add just before eating). Well Plated.
- Cabbage Salad Bowl: (skip the bacon, it’s still good). Shredded cabbage topped with over-easy eggs, avocado, nuts and a chipotle lime mayo (I like: 1/2 cup mayo, 2 minced chipotle peppers, 1 tsp minced garlic, 2 TBS fresh lime juice, 3 TBS chopped cilantro, Kosher salt & ground pepper). PrimalPotential.
- 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. 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. 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. 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 jalapeρos and some low fat sour cream. Gina’s Skinny Recipes.
- Best Hummus: It’s beautifully smooth and swirled, and begging to be scooped up onto a wedge of pita bread. It’s nutty and tangy, thanks to the tahini, with notes of bright, fresh lemon and mellow garlic. Cookie & Kate.
- 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. Andie Mitchell.
- 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. Tasty Yummies.
- 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. The avocado works wonderfully to create a sauce so creamy and thick, you will think there is cream hiding in there. Found at Oh She Glows.
- Shakshuka: A delicious Middle Eastern egg dish made on the stovetop. Vegetarian, gluten free, healthy and tasty. Tori Avey.
- 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. 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. The Guardian.
- Roasted Vegetable Flatbread Pizza: Garlic naan is the base (though you can use plain), topped with onion, red bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, pesto sauce, Kalamata olives, marinated artichoke hearts, goat cheese and more. The Life Jolie.
- Goat Cheese and Swiss Chard Casserole: While this calls for small shell pasta, feel free to use whatever shaped pasta you have on hand. 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. Better Homes And Gardens.
- Makeover Spinach Tuna Casserole: 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! 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! Kalofagas.
- Tried and True Lenten Recipes: Hummus, Spinach Rice, Juddra, Farina Pudding, Bean Soup, Lentil Soup, 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): This classic is ultra thick, hearty, and made with just nine ingredients! The soup has been on regular rotation in my family for years, and I’ve adapted the original version to make it my own. Chocolate Covered Katie.
- Fabulous Fish: Pan-Seared Fish with Lemon Dill Mayonnaise. Circle Of Food.
- Nistisima – Food for the Soul: A motherload of ideas here, you’ll find seafood, mains, bean dishes, soups, snacks and lots more. Kopiaste.
- Vegetable Lasagna: Fresh spinach, broccoli, and zucchini are tucked between layers of lasagna noodles, ricotta, mozzarella, and creamy white sauce. The best! 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 can be made ahead and just save the baking time (1 1/2 hours) for later. Fit to serve to guests on Friday. Catholic Cuisine.
- 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 pepper flakes (optional), water, salt and pepper. 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! The Zahn Zone.
- Japanese Thai Tofu Cake: It is very simple. I am keeping all the food simple. This is a very economical dish which is also in keeping with the 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. 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. Soul Pockets.
- Seafood Chowdah’: This has been adapted from Ina Gartner’s Lobster Corn Chowder and can be made suitable with the omission of the bacon. Found at SAHM I am.
- Shrimp & Scallop Crepes Etouffee: 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. FoodieTots.
- Seafood Stews In A Jiffy: Considered by many to be the food of Lent and thus is associated by some with deprivation. To others, eating it doesn’t seem like a sacrifice at all. For discriminating diners, this 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 sautι 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 prepared noodles or rice.
Homemade Lagana Greek Flatbread
Source: The Greek Vegan
Similar to focaccia, this bread is traditionally eaten in Greece only on Clean Monday (first day of Lent for the Greek Orthodox). Lagana is never cut with a knife (to avoid bad luck/evil), it is pulled apart instead.
If you’re looking for a version that includes white wine and tahini, check out this recipe.
Ingredients: (Yields 1 loaf)
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour (or variations/combinations of flours)
1 1/2 tsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 2/3 cups warm water (between 105°F and 110°F)
1/2 tsp salt
1 TBS olive oil (you can replace with additional 1/4 cup of water)
1/2 cup of flour for kneading
1/3 cup sesame seeds (white or black or combo)
Bread Wash: (will be enough for 2 or 3 loaves)
1 TBS apricot jam or honey
5 TBS boiling water
Or you can brush top of dough with a cornstarch/water mixture (1/2 tsp cornstarch; 1/2 cup water) to help the seeds stick.
- Proof yeast by combining it with sugar and water. Set aside for 10 minutes. Only use if it’s activated (bubbles on surface).
- Combine flour, salt then add yeast mixture. Mix well until dough is sticky. Turn out on floured surface, knead for approximately 10 minutes. Dough should be smooth and will hold together in a ball.
- Place dough ball in a large, lightly greased bowl (olive oil…if abstaining from oil, lightly dust bowl with flour instead). Traditionally, the Sign of the Cross is now made with your hand to ensure a good rising. Cover with plastic wrap and a clean dish towel. Allow to rise in a warm spot until double in size (1 to 1 1/2 hours). Test: poke finger in dough, if it bounces back only halfway, it’s ready. If it bounces back immediately, more rising time needed.
- When ready, knead in bowl a few times to deflate it and then turn out onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper, gently stretching and patting it into a rectangle or oval (about 1/2″ thick). Do not roll!
- Cover pan with a clean cloth and rise for another 30 minutes.
- Dot dimples across the surface by using your fingertips. Lightly brush with apricot wash (or cornstarch/water), sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake at 400° for 30 minutes until golden brown. Remove from pan to cool. Ready to eat after 5 minutes.