Meatless meals are a Friday Lenten standard

Instead of fish fries, try breakfast for dinner or other cuisines that offer healthy alternatives to meat

    The Lenten season began Wednesday, kicking off a time when Catholics and many others partake in the tradition of eating meatless meals each Friday, a recognition of the sacrifice Jesus made on Good Friday.
    While many people will frequent area fish fries, others will struggle to find meatless dishes that vary from the predictable macaroni and cheese, eggs and tuna casseroles.
    Plenty of cuisines include dishes ideal for Lenten dinners. Many Italian foods can be adapted to eliminate meat, for example, and Asian dishes often don’t use meat. There are also numerous Mexican foods that use beans instead of meat.
    Fish and seafood are popular choices. Try something like a seafood lasagna, vegetable-laden minestrone soup or cheese-stuffed tortellini.
    Have breakfast for dinner, perhaps waffles or pancakes. Try crepes, filling them with jelly or jam.
    While many people have thought about trying a vegetarian lifestyle, Lent is an ideal time to try a few meatless dishes. Pasta dishes, vegetable pizza, cheese soup and baked potatoes with a variety of toppings are just a few ideas.
    But if traditional dishes are what you’re after, sandwiches are a quick meal option, perhaps the ever-popular peanut butter and jelly. There’s the standard grilled cheese sandwich accompanied by tomato soup, or a panini or wrap filled with veggies.
    Meatless dishes can be more healthy, nutritious and budget-friendly than those containing meats while still providing tasty, timely foods for the entire family to enjoy.
    Following are some meatless recipes from and

Easy Burrito Bowls

1 cup uncooked rice
1 cup salsa
3 cups chopped Romaine lettuce
1 15.25-ounce can whole kernel corn, drained
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
For chipotle cream sauce:
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon chipotle paste
1 clove garlic, pressed
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 teaspoon salt, to taste

    To make chipotle cream sauce, whisk together sour cream, chipotle paste, garlic, lime juice and salt. Set aside.
    In a large saucepan cook rice with 1-1/2 cups water according to package instructions. Let cool and stir in salsa. Set aside.
    Divide rice mixture among serving bowls, then top with lettuce, corn, black beans, tomatoes, avocado and cilantro.
    Drizzle with chipotle cream sauce and serve immediately.
    You can substitute 2 tablespoons chipotle peppers in adobo sauce for the chipotle paste.


One Pot Zucchini Mushroom Pasta

1 pound spaghetti
1 pound cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 zucchini, thinly sliced and quartered
2/3 cup peas
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 sprigs thyme
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup heavy cream

    In a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, combine spaghetti, mushrooms, zucchini, peas, garlic, thyme and 4-1/2 cups water. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
    Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for eight to 10 minutes, until pasta is cooked through and liquid has reduced. Stir in Parmesan cheese and heavy cream.
    Serve immediately.


Slow Cooker Enchilada Orzo

1 14.5-ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 10-ounce can mild enchilada sauce
1 4.5-ounce can chopped green chiles, drained
1/2 cup vegetable broth or more, as needed
1 cup corn kernels
1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces cream cheese, cubed
2 cups uncooked orzo pasta
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

    Place diced tomatoes, enchilada sauce, green chiles, vegetable broth, corn and black beans in a 6-quart slow cooker. Season with salt and pepper and stir until well combined. Top with cream cheese.
    Cover and cook on low heat for seven to eight hours or on high heat for three to four hours.
    Uncover and stir in cream cheese until well combined. Stir in orzo. Cover and cook on high heat for an additional 15 to 30 minutes. Add more vegetable broth as needed until the desired consistency is reached.
    Serve immediately, garnished with cilantro, if desired.


Quinoa Chili

1 cup quinoa
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
1 4.5-ounce can diced green chiles
1-1/2 tablespoons chili powder or more
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1-1/2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1-1/2 cups corn kernels
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Juice of 1 lime, optional
1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and diced

    In a large saucepan, combine 2 cups water and quinoa and cook according to package instructions. Set aside.
    Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium high heat. Add garlic and onion, and cook two to three minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent.
    Stir in quinoa, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, green chiles, chili powder, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper and one to two cups water, making sure to cover most of the ingredients. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
    Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, about 30 minutes, until thickened. Stir in beans, corn, cilantro and lime juice, if using, and cook about two minutes, until heated through.
    Serve immediately with avocado, if desired.


Spinach Tomato Tortellini Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
4 cups chicken broth
1 14.5-ounce can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
1 9-ounce package refrigerated three-cheese tortellini
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 cups baby spinach, chopped
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

    Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic and onion and cook two to three minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent.
    Whisk in chicken broth, diced tomatoes, tortellini, basil, oregano, bay leaf and 1 cup water. Season with salt and pepper, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer five to six minutes, until tortellini is cooked through. Stir in spinach and cook about two minutes, until it begins to wilt.
    Serve immediately, garnished with Parmesan.

Sesame Ginger Broiled Halibut

4 6-ounce halibut fillets
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1/2 cup scallions, finely chopped
1/4 cup sesame seeds

    In a large glass bowl, combine soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, ginger and half the chopped scallion.​
    Place fillets in a large resealable zipper plastic bag, then add marinade, squeeze out excess air and seal. Refrigerate for two to four hours.​
    Preheat broiler for five minutes.​
    Remove fillets from bag and place, skin side down, in a pan lined with a silicone baking mat. Sprinkle generously with sesame seeds and pat seeds firmly against the fish to fully coat.​ Place pan on top rack of oven and broil seven to eight minutes, until fillets flake but still give slightly when pressed with your thumb.​
    Pour the leftover marinade into a saucepan and bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and reduce while the fillets cook.
    Serve halibut topped with reduced marinade and garnished with remaining green onion.


Beer Battered Fish and Chips

6 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into even-sized fries
3 cups canola or vegetable oil
1-2/3 cups self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon salt plus extra for sprinkling
1 cup cold beer
1/2 cup cold water
8 small fish filets such as halibut or snapper
For serving:
Thai sweet chili sauce
Lemon wedges

    In a medium mixing bowl, sift together flour and salt. Whisk in beer and enough cold water so the batter resembles thick cream. Set aside for 20 minutes.
    Place potato slices on a paper towel and pat dry.
    Place oil in a deep saucepan and heat over high. Once oil starts swirling, fry half the chips for three to four minutes, until they start to turn golden. Remove with a slotted metal spoon and drain on paper towels. The chips will be soggy so handle them with care. Repeat with the remaining chips.
    Fry the first batch of chips again for one minute, until they turn a deep golden color. Remove with a slotted metal spoon and fry the second batch of chips for one minute. Remove and drain.
    Season with sea salt, then place in the oven on a very low heat.
    Dip one fish fillet at a time into the batter, then gently lower into the hot oil. Cook, turning occasionally, for four to five minutes, until golden brown and cooked through. Use a slotted spoon to transfer fish to a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat with remaining fish.
    Serve with Thai sweet chili sauce and lemon wedges.



Simple Lemon Garlic Shrimp With Rice

6 tablespoons butter
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 to 6 medium cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup long-grain white rice

    Cook rice according to package instructions. Set aside and keep warm.
    Rinse shrimp under cold running water, then place on paper towels and pat dry. If desired, remove and discard the tails.
    In a large skillet, heat butter over medium heat about 45 seconds, until butter stops foaming.
    Add garlic and saute 15 to 20 seconds. Add shrimp and saute over medium heat about five minutes, turning frequently, until the shrimp just turns pink.
    Add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Stir well.
    Spoon rice into a serving dish, top with lemon-garlic shrimp, sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.
    For extra flavor in the rice, cook it in low-sodium chicken stock instead of water. Stir in a 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese while hot.


Vegetarian Bean and Rice Burrito

2 cups cooked rice, pre-cooked or leftover
2 limes, juiced
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 onion, diced
3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
1 15-ounce can black or pinto beans, drained
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon hot sauce

    In a large bowl, toss together chopped cilantro with cooked rice and drizzle with a bit of fresh lime juice. Heat in microwave or on stove just until hot. Stir.
    In a large skillet, sauté onion and garlic in vegetable oil or olive oil for two to three minutes, until onion is soft.
    Reduce heat to medium-low, add beans and season with chili powder, cumin, and hot sauce, stirring to combine. Add a bit of salt if desired. Cook about five minutes, until beans are heated through.
    Spoon cilantro lime rice and black beans onto lightly warmed flour tortillas. Add any additional toppings, such as cheese, salsa, avocado slices, guacamole, black olives or sour cream. Wrap burritos and serve hot.
    Let the burrito sit for a minute or two so the tortilla molds to the fillings.


Quick and Easy Canned Tuna Tacos

2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons cream
1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice, preferably fresh-squeezed
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 8-ounce can tuna, well drained
4 corn tortillas, hard or soft​

    Whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, cream and lemon or lime juice. Set aside.
    In a bowl, stir together onions and cilantro. Set aside.
    Heat oil in a small pan, then sauté tuna, stirring often, until heated through and very slightly browned. Take  pan off the heat.
    If using soft tortillas, heat a griddle over high heat. Heat tortillas on grill, turning once or twice, until very hot. For hard taco shells, place them on a baking sheet and heat until crispy.
    Place one-quarter of the tuna mixture onto each tortilla, then top each with onion-cilantro mix and a drizzle of cream sauce.
    Serve tacos immediately with hot sauce or other condiments.




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