Did you know that meatless Fridays aren't just a Lenten thing? Here are four delicious recipes from Aleteia.
In May 2011 the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales issued a statement intended to restore the practice of abstaining from meat on Fridays. To some this probably seemed like a step backward, a return to an unnecessary rule for Catholics who just want a good burger with their beer after a long week.
Many Catholics still don’t realize that Fridays—except for the Fridays that coincide with solemn feasts—are still days of abstinence. Traditionally, this meant abstaining from meat, but Canon law permits bishops to modify the rule as they see fit and many have done so, declaring that while a Friday penance stills stands, Catholics can choose the penance, which can also be a work of charity. While many Catholics seem to have missed that memo and do nothing at all, increasing numbers are returning to the traditional practice of abstaining from meat on their own.
Has restoring the practice of meatless Fridays worked in England and Wales? A friend’s contact in England says yes, it actually has—people already following penitential Fridays have been informed, while others have been challenged. It’s also been a way for people to be more publicly Catholic.
Meatless Fridays not only unifies Catholics, fosters a sense of community and provides a witness to the wider culture, it can make Friday penance more practical. Rather than trying to decide (or remember) what penance to take on, a Catholic can get used to the habit of going meatless every Friday, which can be shared with other Catholics (like some of the people around your dining room table). Plus, it puts a little icing on the vegan cake to know that cutting back on animal flesh is better for the environment as well as your health. (Of course Catholics who are already vegetarian or vegan would still have to come up with something else for Friday penance.)
Probably the biggest challenge to meatless Fridays is heard in that ageless cry in kitchens across the land late in the afternoon: What the heck am I going to make for dinner? Home cooks in decades past would surely be jealous of all the resources we moderns have for finding options, such as the internet, where there are more meatless recipes than we can ever hope to try.
Whether you’ve always abstained from meat on Fridays or are just hearing about the practice and want to begin, here are a few Aleteia originals to help you on your way.
Quiche St. Pierre
Editor-in-Chief Elizabeth Scalia invented this one for the feast of the Chair of St. Peter one year. It’s great for impressing guests because anything French sounds like you put a lot of work into it.
Ingredients (serves 4–6)
- 4 medium eggs
- 1 ½ c half&half
- 1 Tbsp butter, melted
- 6–8 oz crab meat (or more if you like; I like more), shredded
- ¾ c Swiss cheese, grated
- ¾ c cheddar cheese, grated
- 1 small onion, diced
- ¼ c spinach, chopped (optional)
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
- ¼ tsp Phillips Seafood Seasoning (or Old Bay)
- 1 tsp parsley, minced
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1 prepared 9″ deep pie crust (or a homemade pie crust, if you’re that good)
Directions: Preheat oven to 350°F. Sauté diced onion in the butter. Once it’s nearly translucent, add crushed garlic and stir. Remove from heat after a few moments. In a large bowl, beat eggs and half&half thoroughly. Stir in the crab meat, and chopped spinach, Swiss cheese and Cheddar cheese. Add the onion and garlic, seasoning, salt & pepper, and combine thoroughly. Pour into pie crust and bake for 45 minutes or until quiche is set. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before slicing.
Notes: Baby shrimp would also work instead of crab here. Serve with a simple salad, a loaf of French bread and a happy light wine (something like a Pouilly-Fuissé, which won’t overwhelm the crab), and you’ll have a nice little meal on a fall or winter’s night.
Easy Crab Tostadas
Speaking of crab, this is a favorite at Aleteia editor Kathleen Hattrup’s house. Super simple and really tasty.
Ingredients (serves 4+)
- 1 package crab meat
- 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3–4 tomatoes, chopped
- juice of 2 limes
- salt to taste
- avocados, sliced
Directions: Chop all main ingredients: the crab, cilantro, onion and tomatoes and place them all in a bowl. Add the lime juice and salt. Mix well. Serve by topping the tostadas with the mix and then laying the avocado slices on top.
At breakfast with her son one morning at a restaurant years ago, a baked oatmeal recipe transported Elizabeth Scalia to heaven, and she had to go home and create the recipe for herself, gleaning what she could online. Here it is. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Ingredients (serves 4–6)
- 3 c rolled oats
- 1 c brown sugar
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 c milk
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3/4 c dried cranberries
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a large bowl, mix together oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Beat in milk, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Stir in dried cranberries. Spread into a 9×13 inch baking dish. Bake 40 minutes.
Notes: Be sure to add apple slices, raisins, and/or nuts of your choice. You can really get creative. The great thing about this recipe is that it can be a simple supper on a chilly Friday night, or you can stick some vanilla ice cream on top and call it dessert. (Or you could serve it like dessert for dinner and call it “dinsert.”)
Baja-Style Fish Tacos
This one comes from Senior Writer Kirsten Andersen, who grew up in California where fish tacos were normal and widely available. She remembers they were fresh and delicious, consisting of flaky, grilled white fish (catch of the day), pico de gallo salsa, fresh cilantro and chopped onions, served on warm corn tortillas. Her first order of fish tacos when she arrived east of the Mississippi resulted in a soggy, room-temperature flour tortilla stuffed with two fish sticks, breaded and fried, topped with coleslaw and some kind of cold, lumpy, flesh-toned salad dressing. She was not impressed. So for those not lucky enough to be in close proximity to coastal Baja’s culinary influences, here is her easy, Americanized version of a childhood favorite for a meatless Friday night … or anytime.
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 8–12 corn tortillas (store-bought or homemade, either way make them fresh—none of those hard pre-folded “shells” that come in a box, please!)
- 1.5–2 lbs. white fish (tilapia, halibut, cod, mahi mahi, snapper—almost any white fish will do, so pick your favorite or use what’s on sale)
- 2–3 Tbsp melted butter, olive oil, or avocado oil
- chili powder
- 1–2 c salsa of choice (for topping)
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro (optional)
- 1 lime (optional)
Directions: Preheat grill to medium, or turn on broiler. Brush fish on all sides with butter or oil – you want it moist but not dripping. (The amount you use will depend on the fish — a firm, thick, dense fish like mahi-mahi will require more butter or oil than a thin and porous fish like tilapia, which may need barely any at all.) Lightly dust the fish on all sides with chili powder, to your own preference.
Grill or broil fish 5-20 minutes, turning once, until it is opaque and flakes easily with a fork (time dependent on thickness/density of fish). While fish is cooking, warm the tortillas in the microwave for 30 seconds, or wrapped in tinfoil in the oven.
Toppings: You can get creative. The traditional way to serve these is with pico de gallo, a salsa made from cubed fresh tomatoes, green bell peppers, onions and other ingredients. The fresh-made stuff can be found in the refrigerated section of most grocery stores, or you can easily make it yourself — there are plenty of recipes online. But if you feel like switching it up, try fresh mango salsa, salsa verde, or spicy black bean salsa.
To serve: Break up the fish into bite-size chunks; fill each tortilla with a portion of fish. Slice lime into halves or quarters and squeeze a bit of juice over the fish to taste (optional but recommended, especially for firmer/denser fish). Spoon salsa over fish (roughly 1-2 tbsp per taco ought to do it, depending on how much fish you stuffed in there. Optional: Top with cilantro (a whole sprig or chopped, whichever you prefer). Serve with tortilla chips and guacamole and/or Spanish rice.
Notes: You won’t find any cheese included in this recipe because Kirsten says cheese does not belong on fish. If you’re inclined to enjoy cheese on fish, you’re on your own, friends.
Zoe Romanowsky is Lifestyle Editor and Video Curator for Aleteia