Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Feb 28, 2009 02:36 AM

Lent Friendly Recipes - abstain from meat

For this Lenten season, I have decided to abstain from meat the entire 40 days and blog about it every day as my break from my usual routine. For Catholics during Lent, the practice is to abstain from meat on Fridays. Meat is considered to be the flesh and organs of mammals and fowl. Also forbidden are soups or gravies made from them. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles and shellfish are permitted, as are animal derived products such as margarine and gelatin which do not have any meat taste.

I'm looking for your recipe suggestions. Your thoughts?


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Google 'vegetarian recipes' or buy Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian or any of the Debbie Madison's books.

    I'm a little mystified by allowing mammal derived products though - wouldn't every middle aisle product then qualify?

    9 Replies
    1. re: alwayscooking

      It's the flesh of mammals....I am not sure what you mean my "mammal derived". Of course I can google "vegetarian recipes" or buy a cookbook, but I am looking for recipes you've actually tried. Do you have any?

      1. re: momskitchen

        Yep I've tons of recipes - I'm vegetarian. I guess I'd like a little more direction before I suggest recipes since it's like asking me 'what's a good recipe'. I have no idea what sort of foods you like or your kitchen skills - that's why I suggested you search for recipes that may appeal and then ask questions (eg, is there a vegetable thing that I can use like meat in x recipe or does this recipe sound good/right). There are also so many 'traditional' foods that already are vegetarian (see the thread about vegetarian foods you don't consider vegetarian) - so are you looking for something more vegan?

        Lastly, why would gelatin be allowed since its derived from the bones and hoofs of mammals and fowl? COuld you eat the marrow or stock made from just bones? I'm curious about where is the line drawn and why.

        1. re: alwayscooking

          My kitchen skills are excellent - I'm confident I can make any recipe you throw at me. Give it a whirl...

          My tastes are pretty much open with regard to vegetarian recipes. Not sure how you define vegetarian. Do you eat eggs, cheese, dairy? Then that meets the Catholic definition of abstaining from meat. The only vegetable I don't really like is rutabaga on it's own, but I love it in pasties! I'm not really fond of couscous or polenta, but for the right recipe, I might give it a shot.

          The spirit of the abstaining from meat is to avoid anything that is remisicient of the taste of meat. That's why gelatin is okay - it doesn't tatse like meat. Since you are a vegetarian, you might not be aware that a properly made stock includes meat and bones and tastes of meat. Marrow tastes like meat. But if you've got a great vegetarian stock recipe, I'd love to hear about it - I've yet to try a vegetable stock that tastes great. Or, I'd like to hear about your personal favorite vegetarian recipe - why do you like it and why.

          1. re: momskitchen

            I've never heard anything in all of my 37 Catholic years about abstaining from things that "taste of meat." It's hooved animals (ungulates) that we're to abstain from, meaning even poultry is acceptable to eat. Marrow would count, in my book, as meat because you're eating part of the animal. And why torture yourself eating margarine when you can have butter? It's only the Eastern and Orthodox Christian religions that abstain from all animal products including dairy. For Roman Catholics, Canon Law doesn't even specify that it's meat we're to abstain from, it merely says we are to voluntarily abstain and fast as economic situation allows (1966 Apostolic Constitution of Pope Paul VI, Paenitemini). One may also substitute fasting and abstinence with prayer and works of charity. Current Canon law actually says that ALL Fridays are to be days of abstinence, but this is not practiced by US bishops. It's merely the accepted tradition that makes us abstain from meat specifically as a Lenten "sacrifice."

            Personally, I do not abstain from meat. I don't like most meat very much, so to me it's not a sacrifice for me to give it up for a day.

            1. re: irishnyc

              Here's the rules for you, irshnyc...interpret them as you see fit:


            2. re: momskitchen

              MK - I am very aware of what goes into stock since I make 2 huge batches of veal and beef stock a year, chicken almost monthly, and vegetable weekly. I eat vegetarian but serve the food people want and like.

              My vegetable stock: In old water, onions, carrots, celery, leek, peppercorns, garlic, bay leaf and kombu (until the pot reaches a boil then removed) boiled for 45-60 minutes (until the vegetables no long have a taste). If I have other vegetable cuttings leftover, I'll add them (and note on the storage bag the predominate flavors).

              Again, offering my favorite vegetarian recipe is difficult - I don't have a favorite meal. I'll give you what I ate this past week and if any sounds interesting, let me know.

              D - Mushroom ragout over garbanzo flour pancakes with an arugula salad
              B - Mush ragout and spinach in a omelet
              L - Leek and potato soup (inspired by another thread) and cheese sandwich
              D - Mush ragout as the basis for a pasta sauce and steamed spinach
              B - Steel cut oats with blueberries and milk
              L - Eggplant rotini from the freezer
              D - Bean and adobo chili over rice with many toppings
              B - Oats again
              L - Quesadillas made withe the chili reduced and blended
              D - Stir fry with 'mock meat' (a loaf I make with tofu and vital wheat gluten) over the previously made rice
              B - Oats again (Alas, I made a big pot)
              L - Mushroom and spinach lasagna from the freezer
              D - Pizza
              B - Breakfast burrito with fried egg, tomato lettuce
              L - Mock meat BBQ pork sandwiches and fried apples
              D - Mac and cheese
              B - Frittata (there was an accumulation of small amounts of vegetables in the ref)
              L - Quick fried slaw of cabbage, onions and tofu
              D - Dan Dan Noodles with edemame and greens

              I also like chilies rellano, mixed bean and vegetable stews varying the seasonings based on cultures, stuffed peppers, cabbage or squash. Fast food for me is lentils or some preparation of the mock meat I have previously made.

              1. re: alwayscooking

                Chilies rellano sounds good - how do you make it?

                1. re: momskitchen

                  My untraditional version of Chilies relleno not the for feint (or weak) hearted:

                  - Make a beer batter (bottle of beer, enough flour to make a semi-thick slurry, 1 or 2 T of baking powder, salt) and let it rest while making the rest (at least 1/2 hour).
                  - Make (or pull from the frig) a salsa verde, a rancher/red chili sauce, and salsa fresca (let me know if you need ingredients)
                  - Roast and peel fresh poblano chilies (I'll sometimes substitute another large chili).
                  - Make a slit in the side and clean out the seeds
                  - Fill with a mixture of roasted corn, cheddar and Monterrey jack (variations include the addition of roasted red peppers, roasted jalapenos, onions, etc and varying the cheeses
                  - Close the slit in the side with a small skewer
                  - Heat enough oil in a pan to come just over half-way up the sides of the chilies
                  - Dredge chilies in S&P flour, then dunk in batter, shake and place in pan
                  - Fry until brown on all sides

                  I serve this in ceramic TV dinner trays. In the large area of the tray, I put green sauce on one side and red sauce on the other. The chili is then lain on top. In the three other tray spaces are spiced rice, salsa fresca, and 'refried' black or kidney beans. I dress the plate with avocado slices and cilantro. On the table, I serve the sauces for those who want more, limes slices, and fage (in place of sour cream - got to draw the line somewhere).

                  1. re: alwayscooking

                    That sounds great, A.c. thanks for the idea. I'll give it a shot!

      2. My husband and I are long-time vegans (no animal products) (30+ and 15+ years). Our cookbook collection includes:
        Simply Vegan by Debra Wasserman
        The Vegan Epicure by Hermine Freed
        Sinfully Vegan by Lois Dieterly
        My Sweet Vegan by Hannah Kaminsky
        Spicy Vegan by Sudha Raina
        The Gluten-Free Vegan by Susan O'Brien
        The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen by Donna Klein
        Everyday Vegan by Jeani-Rose Atchinson
        Cooking Under Pressure by Lorna Sass
        Pure and Simple by Tami A. Benton
        ExtraVeganZa by Laura Matthias

        Maybe your local library has some of them.

        1. Eastern Orthodox have kept Lenten fasting practices more rigorously than Catholics. So there are a number of Greek, Middle Eastern (Lebanese, etc), and Russian dishes that fall in this category. Italian and Spanish cookbooks also have traditional dishes for this time of the year (including all the salt cod preparations).

          3 Replies
          1. re: paulj

            Thanks Paul - what's your favorite recipe?

            1. re: momskitchen

              Here's a web page of lenten recipes (and links) from a parish that is composed largely of American converts (Protestant to Orthodox)


              and another promising article with recipes and links

          2. Pick up an Indian Cookbook from the local library. Most any one should have enough recipes to last 40 days. Among my favorites are the following:

            Vendakai kari - okra curry
            Kitchiri - rice with two types of lentils
            Chole - chickpea curry

            1 Reply
            1. re: OnkleWillie

              Thanks - I have an Madhur Jaffrey cookbook I can use right here at home. I'll try your suggestions.

            2. Brussels Sprouts With Mustard, Apples and Caraway

              Ths recipe was published in the NY Times last November as a suggested Thanksgiving side dish. It originated from Jeremy Fox, chef at the vegetarian restaurant and yoga studio Ubuntu in Napa, Calif.

              I saved the recipe because, even though I don’t generally like Brussels sprouts, this looked interesting. But I didn’t get around to making it until just last week. I cut the recipe in half and used gala apples, canned apple nectar instead of juice and rice because I had those items already on hand. The only tedious part of this preparation is separating the leaves.

              The result was an utterly pleasing medley of flavors that combine very well to make this dish a standout. Definitely a keeper.