After the last parties of Fat Tuesday — also known as Mardi Gras — die down, the Christian tradition of Ash Wednesday brings the start of Lent, the period of sacrifice that ends with Easter.
Catholics customarily give up meat on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays during the six weeks leading up to Easter, which this year is April 4, often substituting fish as a primary protein. This is why so many churches host fish fries during the Lenten season.
We have gathered some of our favorite meatless and fish recipes to help make the period of abstaining until Easter a little easier for the family. For more ideas, the Fresh From Florida website has a list of seafood and produce that’s in season and nearly 100 recipes on freshfromflorida.com, which is maintained by the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Goof-Proof Parmesan Baked Cod
4 (4-ounce) frozen cod fillets
⅔ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
4 green onions, chopped
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat frozen cod fillets in cooking spray and place in a baking dish or sheet pan. To make cleanup easier, use a wire rack and parchment paper.
Mix remaining ingredients and spread over fillets.
Bake, uncovered, until fish just begins to flake easily with a fork, 15 to 20 minutes, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees.
Cookbook author Alison Roman’s suggests a mild firm fish such as fluke, halibut or cod for this foolproof fish recipe.
¼ cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 small shallot, thinly sliced into rings
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound small sweet tomatoes, halved
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 teaspoon fish sauce (optional)
4 fillets fluke, halibut or cod, about 5 ounces each
1 cup cilantro, tender leaves and stems
½ cup mint, tender leaves and stems
Limes, halved, for serving
Tortillas, toast or rice, for serving (optional)
Use a large skillet with a lid and heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and shallots and cook, swirling the skillet constantly until they are starting to toast and turn light golden brown, 2 minutes or so. Add red pepper flakes and swirl to toast for a few seconds. Remove from heat and transfer all but 1 tablespoon of the oil mixture to a small bowl.
Add tomatoes to the skillet and season with salt and pepper.
Cook, tossing occasionally, until the tomatoes burst and start to become saucy and jammy, 5 to 8 minutes. Add fish sauce, if using, and 1 ½ cups water, swirling to release any of the bits stuck on the bottom of the skillet.
Cook until the sauce is slightly thickened but still nice and brothy, 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Season the fish with salt and pepper and gently lay the pieces in the brothy tomatoes.
Cover the skillet and cook until the fish is opaque and just cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes (slightly longer for a thicker piece of fish, like halibut).
To serve, transfer fish and brothy tomatoes to a large shallow bowl (or divide among four bowls). Drizzle with reserved bowl of chile oil, more olive oil and the crispy shallots and garlic. Top with cilantro and mint and serve with limes for squeezing over the top.
Serve with tortillas, toast or rice, if you like.
Source: Alison Roman
Roasted Vegetable Lasagna
1 pound eggplant, sliced into ¼-inch rounds
½ pound medium fresh mushrooms, cut into ¼-inch slices
3 small zucchini, cut lengthwise into ¼-inch slices
2 sweet red peppers, cut lengthwise into 6 pieces each
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 (15-ounce) container reduced-fat ricotta cheese
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup egg substitute
1 (26-ounce) jar meatless spaghetti sauce
12 no-boil lasagna noodles
2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
3 tablespoons minced fresh basil
Coat two large, rimmed baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray. Place eggplant and mushrooms on one prepared pan. Place zucchini and red peppers on the second pan. Combine the oil and garlic and brush over both sides of vegetables. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Turn vegetables over. Bake 15 minutes longer. Remove eggplant and mushrooms. Bake zucchini and red peppers 5 to 10 minutes longer or until edges are browned.
In a bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese and egg substitute. Spread about ¼ cup pasta sauce in a 9- by 13-inch baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray. Layer with four lasagna noodles (noodles will overlap slightly), half of ricotta cheese mixture, half of vegetables, a third of pasta sauce and ⅔ cup mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle with half of basil. Repeat layers. Top with the remaining noodles and pasta sauce.
Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 5 to 10 minutes longer or until edges are bubbly and cheese is melted. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.
Makes 9 servings.
Salmon With Creamy Mustard Sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 salmon fillets, 4 to 5 ounces each
5 ounces Greek or plain yogurt
1 tablespoon of your favorite Dijon mustard
2 big handfuls of mesclun
1 lime, cut into wedges
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and line a small cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Divide the olive oil between the two pieces of salmon and rub it all over them. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place on the cookie sheet.
Bake the salmon for 5 minutes (or less), depending on the thickness of the fillets.
While the fish is cooking, whisk together the yogurt and mustard.
Put a handful of mesclun and a wedge of lime on each of two plates. Serve the salmon next to the salad with a spoonful of the mustard sauce on top. Sprinkle with fresh chives.
Makes 2 servings.
Source: Ellise Pierce, Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram
Super Quick Chili
2 cans stewed tomatoes
2 cans kidney beans, drained, rinsed (see note)
1 can corn, drained
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 jar picante sauce, mild or hot
½ teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin powder
2 tablespoons dried oregano
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and cook uncovered over medium heat until bubbly. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve.
Note: Use 1 can of kidney beans and 1 can of black beans for variety. If you like your chili more soupy, add a little low-sodium chicken stock.
Source: Irene Maher, Tampa Bay Times archives
Brown Rice, Red Bean and Cucumber Salad
This salad can be served on greens as a healthy side dish, or stuffed inside whole-grain pita bread for lunch. For dinner, pair it with avocado slices or cooked whole-grain pasta for a meatless main course.
1 ½ cups cooked brown rice
1 cup lower-sodium canned kidney beans, rinsed and drained
⅔ cup finely diced celery (about 2-3 stalks)
⅓ cup finely diced onion (about half a small onion)
½ cup chopped sweet red pepper (about half a large pepper)
1 cup English cucumber (the long skinny ones wrapped in plastic), unpeeled (about 20 ⅛-inch rounds, cut into quarters)
¼ cup, packed, cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
¼ teaspoon salt, optional or to taste
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper, optional or to taste
⅓ to ½ cup bottled low-calorie salad dressing
Juice of 1 lemon
Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl. Chill or serve at room temperature over salad greens.
Makes 6 servings.
Source: Irene Maher, Tampa Bay Times archives