Get our newsletters

Recipe of the Week: Experimenting through Lent and beyond


In winter, with no fresh fruits and vegetables in season locally for inspiration, it can get difficult to conjure up ideas for dinner.

Those in search of dishes appropriate for Lent’s meatless Fridays face even more of a challenge. How many times can you serve tuna casserole, grilled cheese, fish sticks or macaroni and cheese as a main dish?

With a little planning and a family willing to experiment, there are plenty of other options to consider.

If you are looking for dishes that don’t include fish, versatile eggplant can be baked in tomato sauce and topped with parmesan cheese, or in a stir-fry. Mushrooms also make a hearty meat substitute in soups and casseroles, while beans are an excellent source of protein. Stuff them into enchiladas, burritos or tacos with traditional toppings or use them in salads or soups and you will never miss the meat.

Kidney beans or lentils can help you to forget about meat when you make a meatless chili. Top it with sour cream or grated cheese and you have a satisfying cold-weather supper.

Pasta is a great starter for a meatless meal, whether you pair it with shrimp, crab, tuna, or a medley of whatever vegetables you have in the house. Simple sauces can be made from tomato, wine, butter or cream.

If you want to give your meal an international flair, Indian food offers many meatless curries and other options, while Mexican dishes often focus on beans.

Even if you have fussy eaters who only want fish sticks every Friday, you can vary the side dishes. This recipe for a pierogi casserole from is a way of satisfying pierogi and carbohydrate lovers as a meatless entrée. It also works as a side dish when paired with some kind of fish or shrimp or a meatless quiche.

When you experiment you might find dishes that want to continue making throughout the year.

Pierogi Casserole

1 cup finely chopped onion

¼ cup butter, cubed

2 cups 4 percent cottage cheese, drained

1 large egg

¼ teaspoon onion salt

2 cups mashed potatoes (made with added butter and milk)

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided

¼ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

9 lasagna noodles, cooked and drained

Optional: sour cream and chopped chives for topping

In a skillet, sauté onion in butter until tender. In a bowl, combine the cottage cheese, egg and onion salt. In another bowl, combine potatoes, 2/3 cup cheddar cheese, salt and pepper. Place 3 noodles in a greased 13x9-inch baking dish. Top with cottage cheese mixture, then 3 more noodles. Top with potato mixture, remaining noodles and sauteed onion. Top with remaining 1/3 cup cheese. Cover and bake at 350 degrees until heated through, 25 to 30 minutes. Let the lasagna stand 10 minutes before serving. If desired, top with chopped chives and serve with sour cream.

Join our readers whose generous donations are making it possible for you to read our news coverage. Help keep local journalism alive and our community strong. Donate today.