As tradition goes, those who observe Lent give up their meat-eating ways every Friday until Easter. For some families, though, the lack of a carnivorous centerpiece can be more of a burden than an adventurous culinary experience.
We’re here to change all that.
It turns out your meals can be filling, tasty and exciting without meat! The following 7 meatless recipes are simple and easy to prep ahead of time!
1. Crockpot Lentil Soup
Not only is this recipe meat-free, but it’s nearly effortless. That’s because it relies on a crockpot to do the slow-cooking for you. In other words, you can dump the ingredients into the basin in the morning, set the device and let it cook while you work. When you get home, voila: you have a huge, hearty batch of lentil soup.
There is a little bit of prep involved, as you’ll have to chop some veggies before pouring them into the crockpot. On top of that, though, you won’t have to do much once everything’s ready to go: 10 hours on medium heat and you have a full pot of soup.
2. Asparagus, Spring Onion and Feta Quiche
Whether you’re a brunch fan or a breakfast-for-dinner aficionado, this quiche recipe will fit the bill — and fill you right up. Plus, using a few pre-made pie crusts to complete your quiche makes things a bit easier on your end. After sautéing the onions and asparagus, you’ll add those in layers with feta cheese. Top it all off by pouring a seasoned egg mixture over the top and baking everything until it’s cooked through and ready to eat.
3. Eggplant and Tomato Pasta
This recipe showcases the eggplant, a vegetable favored by many vegetarians for its heartiness. That’s why so many Italian restaurants serve eggplant parmesan alongside chicken or veal: it rivals the texture of a cutlet and is just as filling.
This recipe is Italian-inspired, too. After cooking your pasta, you’ll pour it out and sauté your eggplant in the same pot. On top of that, you’ll add the rest of the ingredients to make your sauce before combining everything, serving and kissing your fingers like a real Italian chef.
4. Cajun Black Beans and Brown Rice
Some like it hot: if that’s you, then Cajun black beans and brown rice should be part of your Lent rotation. This simple recipe requires just seven ingredients, including a heaping tablespoon of chili powder for heat. You’ll brown one cup of rice in oil before adding the rest of the ingredients and spices until everything’s tender, hot and ready to eat. We promise the black-bean-and-rice combo will satisfy you without a single slice of meat.
5. Easy Lo Mein
You can almost never go wrong with a pasta-based dish. Now, consider that this lo mein recipe takes a mere 15 minutes to make — and we’re pretty sure your tongues are officially wagging now. Along with the noodles, you’ll have fresh peppers, mushrooms, snow peas and spinach for added healthiness that even your kids will happily dig into. The soy-based sauce contains with ingredients you likely already have in your pantry, including Sriracha, a pinch of sugar and ground ginger.
5. Carrot and Ginger Soup
Lent just so happens to fall in that transition period between winter and spring. As such, you can expect rainy days, chilly days, windy days, and days that combine all three.
With that in mind, you’ll want to have some comfort foods in your meat-free arsenal, too, just in case you’re craving soup without chicken broth or other carnivorous elements. This carrot and ginger soup brings all of the warmth and flavor you’ll crave, and it’s just enough to fill you up at lunch or dinnertime.
6. Chili and Cornbread Casserole
The transition to meat-full to meat-less is a tough one. This chili and cornbread casserole will ease that transition because it contains a vegetarian ground beef substitute meant to mimic the flavors of your favorite mince. Not only that, but meat substitutes often contain soy or other protein-rich ingredients, so you’re satisfied after dining sans meat.
If that’s not enough to convince you to try this recipe, consider the fact that its crowning glory is a layer of cornbread on top. The cornbread and chili combo is so scrumptious already, but baking both elements together makes it tastier than ever before. Time to try it out and see!
7. Stove Top Macaroni and Cheese
Finally, when all else fails, wow them with macaroni and cheese. Everyone loves macaroni and cheese: it’s a scientifically proven fact. This one is so simple to put together, too: butter, milk, Cheddar and spices like nutmeg, dried mustard and paprika make it rich, creamy and a bit spicier than tamer recipes past. We promise, your kids — and you — will be coming back for seconds.
What’s on your meat-free menu this Lent? Chances are, at least one of the above recipes has knocked your socks off. And it’s also likely that you’ll find yourself adding more and more meatless recipes into the rotation once you try — and love — what you’ll be whipping up this Easter season.