Today is the halfway mark for my annual Meatless Lenten dinners series – I feel like this season has been flying. We’ve been so busy, and as we roll closer to spring, the family to-do list only seems to grow.
The whole thing is making me really glad that all of this year’s Lenten dinners are make-ahead friendly.
Today is the first Friday of Lent, so I’m kicking off my annual Lenten project – sharing meatless meals every Friday. What began as simply a way to keep from eating plain spaghetti and pizza every Friday has grown into one of my favorite yearly blog projects.
But, nine years on, how do I keep this series fresh? I’ve spent a bunch of time thinking about our family’s current needs and how to get them to reflect in my meatless Friday posts.
House update: we were outbid on the house we liked. Womp, womp.
I’m trying to comfort myself by reminding myself of all the negatives. Like, the super pink early-90s kitchen and the extra bathrooms to clean. I’m also trying to relish the fact I no longer have to worry about showings – which means I can actually do some meal planning! And after all the fast food I’m excited about all the vegetables.
This spaghetti squash version of pad thai has been one of my favorite Lenten dinners so far. If you’re a slow chopper like me, this will take a bit to prep – but it’s flavorful and the contrast of the cooked squash with the other raw veggies is great!
Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai (adapted from Tasty) Serves 2
1 spaghetti squash
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup water
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
2 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1 Tbsp. Sriracha
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large cucumber, peeled and quartered
2 carrots, coin-sliced
1 red bell, diced
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 onion, diced
Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place cut-side down on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk together the water, soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, lime juice, Sriracha, peanut butter, and garlic to make the sauce.
When the spaghetti squash is done, shred the inside with a fork and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the sauce and remaining ingredients until well combined. Serve immediately.
Chinese takeout fake-outs have become some of my favorite Lenten dinners. Our local Chinese restaurant has limited meatless options so it isn’t really a great option for us during Lent. Cravings a few year back led me to Kung Pao Chickpeas and then General Tso’s Cauliflower.
All of these sort of hide the bulk of the meal with the sauce, so even if you’re not usually a cauliflower fan, you might like this. Battered, fried, and covered in the fresh orange sauce, you can barely tell you’re loading up on vegetables here. My kids happily gobbled it down!
1 small head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
6 green onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp. olive oil
Zest of 1 orange + juice of orange
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tsp. corn starch
1 tsp. brown sugar
Rice, for serving
Mix together egg, water, cornstarch, flour, and olive oil to create a batter. It should be thick enough to coat, but not clumpy – think waffle batter consistency!
In a large skillet or wok, heat the vegetable oil on medium high. When the oil is heated, dip each piece of cauliflower into the batter and then add it to the hot oil. Fry until browned, then transfer to a paper-towel lined plate.
In another skillet or wok, heat olive over medium-high heat and then add garlic and green onions and cook for a minute. Stir in orange zest and juice and cook for another minute. Add soy sauce and vinegar and bring to a boil.
Seriously, I’m getting ready to build an ark. I’m not sure the backyard is ever going to dry out at this rate. And let’s not even talk about that our sump pump died a few weeks back…
Suffice it to say, I’m really, REALLY dreaming of warm, sunny days. How nice would it be to be on a beach somewhere tropical? So, for this Lenten Friday, I’m cooking up some island-inspired sliders that are – of course! – meatless.
I made these as sliders because they’re the perfect size for the kids, but you could make these as four large burgers too.
1/2onion, chopped 3garlic cloves
1 14.5oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained 1/2cuprolled oats
1/2cupfrozen corn, thawed
1 green onion, chopped 2tsp.cumin 1/2tsp.curry powder 1/4tsp.cayenne pepper 1/4cup plan breadcrumbs Salt and pepper 3Tbsp.vegetable oil
12 pineapple slices
12 onion rings
Sweet bbq sauce
6 Swiss cheese slices, halved
12 slider rolls
In a food processor, pulse the onion and garlic until finely chopped. Add the beans, oats, corn, green onion, cumin, curry powder, and cayenne and pulse until well mixed – about 20 seconds. Scrape down the sides, add salt and pepper to taste, and process for another 10 seconds. Transfer to a bowl and chill for several hours.
When ready to cook, stir in breadcrumbs and form into a dozen equal-sized patties.
Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook for 10-15 minutes, turning halfway, until their is an outer crust and the patties are heated through. Top with cheese during the last 2 minutes of cooking.
Add the cooked patties to the slider rolls. Top each with a pineapple ring, onion ring, and a drizzle of barbecue sauce. Serve immediately.
This vegetable stew is what we made for Family Dinner Book Club last month, and it’s such a great option for Lenten Fridays. It’s a dump and go slow cooker meal – perfect for the end of the week.
I honestly wasn’t sure how this would be received by the kids since it really is just a big bowl of vegetables – but I was pleasantly surprised that they were happy with it. You could easily switch up the veggies to fit your family’s tastes – or add chicken or pasta.
3 red potatoes, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
3 celery stalks, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 cup cut green beans
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. paprika
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
8 cups low sodium vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 lemon, for the juice
Add everything, except lemon, to the slow cooker and cook on low for 4-6 hours, until potatoes are easily cut with a fork. Stir in juice of the lemon and serve.
It’s the first Lenten Friday of 2018 and I’m marking it with – you guessed it! – a pizza dish.
For years, our Lenten Friday staples were spaghetti with tomato sauce and pizza. This blog series was born out of my desire to experiment with other options. Now in it’s fifth year, I’ve added so many more meatless meals to my repertoire – but pizza-inspired dishes still hold a place in my heart.
These beans are our pizza representation for the year. They’re not overly reminiscent of pizza, but the tomato sauce and cheese made it totally plausible to the kids – they happily ate it up! I loved that it was loaded with veggies, too.
Pizza Beans (from Smitten Kitchen Every Day) Serves 6-8
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, diced
2 carrots, diced
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup red wine
4 oz. curly kale leaves, torn into bite sized pieces
2 1/4 cups crushed tomatoes
1 lb. giant white beans
3/4 cup vegetable broth
1/2 lb. mozzarella, grated
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
Soak the beans overnight. Drain, then transfer to an oven-safe dutch oven. Cover with water. Bring to a boil and then turn heat to low. Simmer for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, until beans are soft. Drain and transfer the beans to a bowl. Set aside.
Over medium-high heat, add the oil to the same dutch oven. Add the onion, celery, and carrots and season with salt and pepper. Cook until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the wine and scrape up any browned bits in the pan, then continue to cook until the wine disappears. Add the kale and cook for 1-2 minutes, until wilted in. Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Stir in the beans and vegetable broth. Simmer for 10 minutes and adjust seasonings as needed.
Sprinkle mozzarella and Parmesan over the top and bake for 10-15 minutes.