Although Lent is first and foremost a time for spiritual growth, there is no ignoring the practical reality of 49 days without animal products. (Curiously, shellfish are allowed, most likely because ancient Christians considered them one step above insects. Fish with backbones are permitted on two days.) We don't eat a ton of meat, but I do miss the freedom to exercise the option, and I eat eggs, cheese and yogurt nearly every day. It's difficult to plan around this without overindulging in the permitted luxuries of flour and sugar. But, over the years, I have come up with a few standbys that I can pretty reliably enjoy:
Easiest (Someone else cooks)
- Chipotle's Sofritas salad. If I add guacamole, I can barely finish the whole thing.
- Mussels, preferably from Victoria
- Falafel (current favorite, Nora's, is Armenian-owned!)
- Shrimp Ceviche from the Mexican restaurant I just discovered EIGHT BLOCKS away
- Any Thai curry: also fairly easy to make, but then it would jump to the next list.
Medium (Under an hour)
- Roasted cauliflower with tahini sauce; green salad on the side
- Kimchi rice (Trader Joe's sells it frozen) with stir-fried baby bok choy
- Turkish lentil soup with French carrot salad
- Quinoa tossed with cucumber, avocado, tomato and a preserved-lemon dressing
- Curried tofu salad over arugula (I add chopped apples and grated carrots)
Hard (but worth it, if there's time)
- Hummus, Mahammra and Baba Gannouj from this book
- Gypsy Beans (I like to serve them over spinach as an entree)
- Asian Shrimp Salad (this is not difficult, but involves a lot of prep as it's served with a platter of fresh vegetables, herbs, rice noodles and fruit.)
- Vegetarian Pho (the broth takes awhile, but I make a ton, so subsequent meals are faster)
- Broccoli Aglio e Olio (technically this is not Lenten because of the anchovies, but it is amazing. You absolutely must use Aleppo pepper.
Having a list like this is comforting for that point in the fast when absolutely nothing besides bacon sounds appetizing. Now, if I can just remember that I posted it next year . . .