Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Meatless Meal Ideas for Lent

A collection of Lent friendly meals and ideas from Deep South Dish blog.

Meatless Meal Ideas and Recipes for Lent

With Mardi Gras over, the last of the indulgences have passed, and we move into Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the Lenten season, which continues on for 40 days. I can only speak to the Catholic faith, but we observe Lent by fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday - though it is not a literal fast. One full meal is permitted (or two smaller meals that are less than equal to a "full" meal) but that meal must be meat free - though seafood, eggs and dairy are permitted. The remainder of Lent, we abstain from meat on Fridays, so while regular meals may be consumed, they must each be meatless meals, again allowing seafood, eggs and dairy.


A simple pasta dish with carrots and peas and a light tomato sauce made with tomato paste.

Giada's Pasta with Carrots and Peas is a great choice for an Ash Wednesday dinner, or for any meatless meal during the period of Lent.  It comes together quickly and is actually very flavorful! Another main dish pasta to consider might be this Angel Hair Pasta with Crab and of course, there's always Everyday Macaroni and Cheese.

A nice light pasta dish made with fresh crab, garden tomatoes, fresh basil, butter and olive oil. Great with other proteins or even all on its own too!

One of the most popular Lent-friendly meals continues to be Salmon Patties, and although fresh and frozen salmon are both readily available, canned salmon seems to be as popular as ever. I think with a lot of folks like my husband, they bring up a lot of nostalgia about relatives long gone.

Commonly known as croquettes, salmon is combined with fresh parsley and seasonings, crushed saltine crackers and egg, shaped into patties and pan fried for an old southern favorite. Traditionally served with mashed potatoes and creamed peas.
Commonly known as croquettes, salmon is combined with fresh parsley and seasonings, crushed saltine crackers and egg, shaped into patties and pan fried for an old southern favorite. Traditionally served with mashed potatoes and creamed peas.

Here are a few links for some other choices you might want to consider, many require just a simple elimination of the protein and/or bacon often used in The South to season dishes. Click the links or photos to view the recipes.

More than 65 Favorite Salad Recipes, all from Deep South Dish blog!

1.  Of course salads are always an option, but a main dish salad like this Shrimp and Crab Mixed Garden Salad, a Panzanella Salad, this Roasted Veggie Spinach Salad, Shrimp Remoulade, and even my mother in law's Shrimp and Salad would also be great meal choices. You'll have to eliminate the warm bacon dressing on the spinach salad of course, but a good Homemade Italian Dressing or even a simple vinegar and oil dressing would work just fine. Fresh Corn Salad and even good Old Fashioned 7 Layer Salad would also be wonderful, just eliminate the bacon garnish.

2. Deviled eggs are always a good choice, as are many basic egg salads, including Tuna Egg Salad and Shrimp Egg Salad, which can be served as a sandwich, stuffed into a whole tomato, or over a bed of lettuce. An open faced tuna melt as well as this Roasted Red Pepper Pimento Cheese would be great!

Classic Southern style pinto beans, stewed with salt pork and cayenne pepper and always served with a side of cornbread.

3.  Make any number of meatless bean dishes like Red Beans and Rice, or Cajun White Beans, or Mixed Bean Soup, by simply cooking these with extra vegetables, water or vegetable stock, and eliminating the meats and adding in a little liquid smoke. Serve over rice.

A classic, old fashioned macaroni salad, made with elbow macaroni, sweet onion, celery, chopped pickles, and pimento - simple, the kind that grandma used to make.

4.  There's many potato salads to choose from, and pasta salads too, like this Shrimp and Macaroni Salad, this Tri-Color Rotini Italian Pasta Salad or Peas and Pasta Salad with Tuna - just be sure to eliminate any bacon or other meats included sometimes. Sweet potatoes can be used in a number of ways too!

Eggs are dropped into a bed of fiery tomato sauce, made from fresh tomatoes paired with chunky Rotel and enhanced with bacon, onion and sweet bell peppers, and then passed in the oven to set, topped with cheese and served over cheese grits.

5.  Eggs in Purgatory (sub in canola oil for the bacon) or Shrimp and Grits served over Garlic Cheese Grits are a nice choice too.

A two egg omelet chocked full of sweet Gulf shrimp and lump crab.

6.  Breakfast for dinner can be a cheese, vegetable, or Seafood Crab and Shrimp Omelet, Creamy Scrambled Eggs with Garden Fresh Herbs, French Toast, French Toast Casserole, Birds in a Nest, or Homemade Buttermilk Pancakes.

7.  Make a rice main dish dinner using this recipe for Spicy Rice and Corn Casserole, Southern Red Rice with Shrimp, or a Vegetarian Fried Rice or make a Veggie Stir Fry by using extra vegetables and eliminating the protein. A favorite here is Fried Eggs and Rice. Prepare rice, place into a bowl and add a tab of butter. Top with seasoned, sunny side up, runny yolk eggs and dig in, breaking eggs into the rice. It is delicious!

Homemade Vegetable Soup - a meatless vegetable soup made with a variety of vegetables and a rich vegetable stock.

8.  Soups are always a good choice, whether it's classic potato, a homemade vegetable soup, or you make a vegetarian Vegetable Soup using this recipe and eliminating the beef, beef base and beef broth. Replace that with canned tomatoes, V-8, tomato juice and/or vegetable broth. Southern Succotash is a good main dish veggie meal, simply leave out the meat.

Garlic and butter scampi pasta with white wine, fresh herbs, lemon and red pepper flakes, tossed with seasoned, pan-seared shrimp.

9.  Seafood is plentiful and abundant here along the coast, so it is not considered to be an indulgence and you will find simple fried catfish, shrimp and oysters are common during Lent. Other seafood choices might include Fish CreoleShrimp BoulettesCoconut Shrimp, Spicy Orange Garlic Shrimp, Baked Salmon, Crab Stuffed Shrimp, Eggplant Josephine with Crab, Crabmeat Au Gratin, Seafood and Eggplant Casserole (eliminate the bacon), Courtbouillon. Any number of seafood gumbo dishes can be included by simply eliminating the meats typically included.

A vegetable medley casserole with a classic mixture of pimentos, carrots, peas and corn, transformed with a few simple seasonings and a fabulous cream sauce into a wonderful vegetable casserole, topped here with panko.

10.   Try a vegetable centered casserole, like this Petit Pois Peas and Pimento Casserole, Squash Casserole, Squash Dressing (substitute cream of mushroom), Cajun Cabbage au Gratin, or Layered Squash and Tomato Casserole (omit the bacon of course), Spinach Madeline, Broccoli and Cheese Casserole, Hashbrown Casserole, or Velveeta Truck Stop Potatoes. I can easily make a meal from a pot of old fashioned smothered and stewed down potatoes!

11.  Another great idea and one that I adore, is to make up mixture of fresh or frozen veggies (sweet peppers, onion, cabbage, broccoli, green beans, whatever you like) to stir fry, add a sauce & season and stuff into pita pockets. This is one of my favorite meatless meals. You can find my homemade stir fry sauce here.

12. Make a Mozzarella sandwich on a toasted French roll. Spoon pesto on the bottom of the roll, top with slices of fresh Mozzarella and a layer of sun dried tomatoes. Top with torn basil.

13. Grilled cheese is always good, of course, but bump it up by including some spinach! Saute some chopped onion and minced garlic in a little butter until tender. Add fresh spinach until it wilts down and add to your grilled cheese sandwich. Use your favorite cheese - Mozzarella or Swiss are both good additions.

My interpretation of Aglio e Olio, spaghetti, sauteed in olive oil and garlic, tossed with fresh herbs, red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese, and finished with melted tiny tomatoes.

14. Pasta dishes work well, something as basic as a Parmesan Cheesy Noodles, Spaghetti with Tiny Tomatoes or Mac and Cheese. Omit the bacon for this Bowtie Pasta and Peas or Noodles with Cabbage (omit the sausage). Pastas with seafood are excellent, like Cajun Shrimp and LinguinePasta and Crab, Shrimp and Fettuccine Alfredo, Shrimp Spaghetti, Crawfish Velveeta Fettuccine.

As always, some of our Facebook readers also added in some fine suggestions too! Check 'em out y'all:

☞  Courtney shared that she had made a batch of eggrolls with just broccoli slaw, shredded carrot, mushroom and onions. Add a little stir fry sauce while cooking the mixture and then bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Her 7-year old son said they were better than pizza! She served them with brown rice and steamed sugar snap peas and said they were excellent and very filling - you could even eat the mixture served over the rice.

☞  Claire makes a dish using eggplant as the noodle in a lasagna, a red tomato gravy and using vegetables in the layers - squash, zucchini, carrots, & mushrooms. She mixes in some spinach in with the ricotta cheese for the cheese layer. You can also add shrimp or crawfish if you like.

☞  Mary likes to have pasta with olive oil, garlic, blanched broccoli, crushed chilies & fresh parmesan cheese.

☞  Kristell fries a cabbage along with 6 onions, 6 tomatoes, 2 green peppers, 9 chillies and 8 grated carrots with 9 teaspoons of curry powder and serves this over rice.

☞  Carol makes portabello mushrooms stuffed with a ricotta cheese mixture and baked in a marinara sauce, and a chili using vegetarian meatless crumbles as well. (I like the Morning Star brand of Grillers Meal Starters Crumbles. Actually pulled those off on The Cajun - don't judge!)

☞  Sara suggested a spinach & artichoke pizza would be good with salad as a non meat meal. Just combine 1 cup of frozen spinach (thawed and drained) with a can of (drained & chopped) artichokes, 1 cup of alfredo sauce and 1 clove of garlic minced, spread on dough sprinkle with mozzarella or italian blend cheese and bake according to dough or crust directions. You could also roast some veggies like zucchini, eggplant, peppers, onion and tomatoes toss them with olive oil, salt and pepper bake at 400 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until tender, and then mix with pasta like penne and fresh herbs, Parmesan, and olive oil or just use pesto.

☞  Other suggestions included breakfast for dinner, meatless spaghetti, cheese or other meatless pizzas, cheese enchiladas, cheese baked spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese and tomato soup. Some also suggested red beans and rice (minus any bacon or meat of course), egg omelets, pasta shells stuffed with a cheese mixture, pasta mixed with vegetables and potato stuffed perogies, garden salads, tuna salad, shrimp and egg Salads. Veggie burgers, any number of cooked fresh vegetables like corn, turnip or collard greens, fresh tomatoes, baked sweet potatoes, creamed or mashed potatoes can make a meal, and a basic homemade potato soup is a another great choice. Fish tacos, made with pan-fried fish, are an easy favorite. Even simple peanut butter and jelly sandwiches can make a meal.

I hope that you found some good ideas for Lent friendly meals here! Please share your own ideas in the comments below if you like.


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Posted by on March 9, 2011

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  1. My husband and I are Eastern Orthodox and fast for Lent so I'm very happy you posted this. However, Orthodox fast from meat and DAIRY. Being a good Southern gal myself, it's hard not to slather butter and/or cheese on everything! Do you have any basically vegan dishes you can recommend? We can do fish and shrimp. Thanks!

  2. Hey Sarah, there are a few here I'm sure will fit like the pictured pasta peas & carrots, but I'll have to go through my recipes to see which ones have no diary. I'll try to do that and include some options.

  3. Hi Mary, Just joined your blog and made your buttermilk pancankes tonight! Fabulouso! What a great cook you are!

  4. Welcome and thanks so much Patti! That's very sweet but I guess I'm pretty much just an average cook though I truly do enjoy cooking and I hope it shows through in my recipes. What a sweet comment - thank you!!

  5. Hi Mary,
    Great list to start the Lenten season. My mom always prepared pasta fagioli on Ash Wednesday and frequently on Fridays for that matter.

    Tis the season - TGIF

    Blessings to you and yours!

  6. Great post! I'll definitely be referring back to this. That corn and rice casserole looks great!

  7. With a Greek Orthodox family in the throes of Lent, I thank you, THEY thank you, for so many great ideas!! Keep it comin'!!

  8. Mary, I just recently found your site. I LOVE all of your recipes. I am a true Southern girl...born and raised in Georgia!!! So many people are not familiar with Southern Comfort Food. I will definitely suggest to my Facebook friends that they visit your site so they can discover the real comfort of Southern Food. You have a great collection and I look forward to more. Wishing you a blessed day.

  9. I recently posted on your smoked sausage and rice bake, and just wanted to say that I don't know how I've missed it but today as I browsed I noticed this Lent section! Wanted to take the time to thank you for this. We are also practicing Catholics and it's not common here in Middle Tennessee - so happy to see some southern Lenten meal ideas :)- Charity

    1. Oh I bet! We have a pretty big Catholic population down here - though I guess there's a wide range of faiths here too.

  10. Mary,
    It’s so nice to see some people still abide by age old traditions. I love your menus for the Lenten Season. As I look through some of the sites, even those who espouse to be devout Christians, I see their Good Friday menus that start off with meat, meat and more meat… and end with meat. I grew up in a Traditional (Latin speaking) Roman Catholic household. I wish my mom had your meatless menus. I was subjected to things like tuna casserole and filet of sole, which more closely resembled Keds or Converse Hi-Tops. And then there was salmon and peas on toast. It’s like “SOS” for Catholics. As you’ve probably gathered, I’m not a fan of fish. Hey, I’m from New York City. I knoes whoooz sleepin’ wit da’ fish!”
    I do, however, love clams, shrimp and scallops. Unfortunately they were neither affordable nor easily obtainable in NYC.
    May you and your family have a blessed Easter.
    God bless.

    1. Happy Easter to you too Chris & thanks for all of your sweet & funny comments!


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