Meatless Fridays

Because my husband is a Catholic and he grew up at a time when having meat on Fridays was verboten, we somehow began this as a family tradition, even though the rest of the Catholic world can now eat meat on Fridays except during Lent. Sometimes this is annoying to my kids, but they have gotten used to it and if there is something like a party or special dinner going on, we just give ourselves dispensation (except during Lent) and have a different meatless day.

During the summer, this has led to "Cheese Pizza Friday", where my family orders lunch from the local pizzeria, Anna's #2. It is something they really look forward to. But what do we do for dinner on Meatless Friday? Well, an entire generation of Catholics remember a dinner of Mrs. Paul's fish sticks, frozen french fries every Friday, but my kids aren't buying this. They really have to be in the mood for fish sticks. We have developed a repertoire of dinners that don't require meat - sometimes it is as simple as a grilled cheese served with tomato-cheese soup (just combine a can of cream of tomato soup with a can of southwestern cheese soup and their respective cans of skim milk and -voila! Kids love it) or homemade macaroni and cheese with a salad (particularly Dowd Salad). Another favorite of mine is creamed asparagus on toast. A crab or vegetable (spinach or broccoli) quiche is a great and easy option and leftovers are great for lunch. Seafood gumbo is a great option and takes small amounts of seafood combined to make the most of a small budget. I also developed a great 3-bean dish that is meatless that my kids love (though generally they don't like beans) and has become a staple when we go camping.

Some of the very best dishes for meatless Friday involve pasta - like stuffed shells and cheese tortellini, a no-no for those watching carbs (my husband, a pre-diabetic, is one of them), so over the years I have had to become more creative in finding new ways to make old stand-bys. One of my greatest triumphs is my low-carb version of tuna casserole - it is made with zucchini ribbons instead of noodles and store-bought (horrors!) alfredo sauce makes it easy.

Can-opener 3-bean dish

3 cans of beans (a variety is best-black beans, cannellini beans, kidney, pinto... whatever you have is fine), rinsed and drained
1 can of diced tomatoes (mexican-style is best) or 1 cup salsa
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
Shredded cheddar cheese
Sour cream
Guacamole or avocado cut in chunks and tossed with lime juice
Tortilla chips

Open all cans, drain and rinse beans and combine with tomatoes or salsa (or a combination, depending on what you like). Stir together until heated. If you like yours spicy add tabasco or other hot sauce until the heat is right. Serve in a bowl with grated cheese, sour cream and guacamole and top or scoop with chips as desired. This is also great with corn bread.

Tuna Casserole with Zucchini Noodles

4-5 medium zucchini
1/2 jar good quality alfredo sauce
2 cans chunk white tuna (don't use light, it is not as good for a casserole), drained
1/2-1 can french fried onions
1 - 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Using a vegetable/potato peeler, peel the zucchini into long thin strips down to the seeded core (discard those) and sit in a colander salt lightly, let stand for 10 minutes and then rinse. Saute zucchini ribbons in 1 tbsp olive oil, until just tender. Stir in alfredo sauce and tuna chunks. Put in greased 1 1/2 quart casserole dish. Top with french fried onions and cheese. Bake until bubbly and top is browned. The surprise in this tuna surprise is that is light and delicious, and you won't even miss the noodles!

Dowd Salad

( This is our house salad". At my daughter's college graduation party, we did a buffet and this salad was labeled "Dowd Salad- Made with real Dowds")

4 cups salad greens (baby greens, romaine lettuce, baby spinach- whatever you like)

1 cup feta or blue cheese broken into chunks

Any or all of the following: Sliced red onions in rings, cherry tomatoes, sliced radishes, bacon bits (real, if its not Friday), toasted pine nuts

Dressing made of 1/3 olive oil, 2/3 good balsamic vinegar (Costco's Kirkland brand is very good for everyday use) Toss with salad just before serving. My pet peeve: pink, non-ripe tomatoes. When tomatoes are not in season, I would rather have no tomato in my salad than one of those tasteless grainy pink things!

Of course the logical and most common meatless Friday dish is fish, but I will be covering that in a different post. I have shared with you a couple of my Friday recipes, and if you have other suggestions or favorites of your own, believe me, my children will be eternally grateful!!


Sara said…
i LOVE bean salad and yours sounds delicious!