When Fat Tuesday is far behind us and the Lenten season is in full swing, many practicing Catholics observe the tradition of abstaining from eating meat on Fridays during this solemn time. Fish is still allowed and many local restaurants and clubs throughout the country offer special fish and seafood dinners during this time of year. While this is fine for seafood lovers, there are those whose tastes do not lean toward the offerings from the sea not to mention the numerous people who must avoid these foods due to allergies. For those who choose to avoid or must avoid fish and/or seafood, the other usual meatless options of grilled cheese sandwiches and macaroni and cheese can get old quick. It is with this in mind that one might want to try the following recipes.
Vegetarian chili is a quick and easy meatless meal to prepare. In a large stainless steel pan, add one fifteen or sixteen ounce can each, including the liquid, of red kidney beans, pinto beans, and black beans. To this, add a one pound can of stewed tomatoes and a sixteen ounce can of tomato sauce. Stir in two packets of chili seasoning mix, add a few drops of hot sauce according to your taste, and bring the mixture to a boil. In the meantime, while this is heating, coarsely chop two or three onions and one large or two small bell peppers and place them in the microwave for three to five minutes to soften. Add the peppers and onions to the bean mixture in the pan and stir. When the chili comes to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about ten to fifteen minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking. Grab a chunk of fresh Italian bread and dig in to a piping hot bowl of delicious homemade chili!
Another delicious vegetarian meal that is quick and easy to prepare is Onion and Mushroom Stroganoff served over egg noodles. Start by slicing three or four medium size onions. Place these in a large skillet with two cups of water, cover, and place over medium heat for about ten minutes or until they soften. When the onions are soft, remove the cover and continue to cook until all the water evaporates and the onions start to brown. Watch them closely so they don’t burn. When the bottom of the pan starts to darken, add two cups of water and loosen any browned bits that have become stuck to the pan. Add two cans of cream of mushroom soup, one four ounce can of mushrooms, drained, and stir over a medium flame. Add an eight ounce container of sour cream and mix well. Continue to cook until the mixture begins to boil. Turn off the heat and stir in a mixture of a half cup of cold water and three tablespoons of cornstarch. After incorporating the cornstarch solution into the pan, turn the heat back on and stir constantly for about a minute or two as the mixture thickens. Serve over cooked wide egg noodles and enjoy!
These recipes allow a little more variety in fulfilling your Lenten obligations and have been known to satisfy even the most voracious carnivore! Bon appetit!