If you are not a vegetarian or vegan so you are used to not eating meat anyway, meatless Fridays could pose somewhat of a challenge. I am not a vegetarian or a vegan, and I am sure there are some days where I might go without eating any form of meat, but during the period of Lent like I am in now, I have to make a conscious effort not to eat meat on Fridays and when I have to pay attention and make sure I am not, it gets tricky because all of a sudden I have no idea what to eat!
I am Catholic and for us, Lent starts on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter. During this time period starting with Ash Wednesday, you are not supposed to eat meat on Fridays. Now as I stated earlier, there are times I am positive I have gone a whole day without eating meat without even blinking an eye or realizing it, but when I know I am not supposed to have it, it seems like the hardest thing in the world to do without. This is my dilemma for Fridays during Lent.
I used to just go with pasta – easy. No meat. I usually have a salad for lunch so that is my norm and I only have to worry about dinner. However, my being in an Italian family (at least my family) we always throw a stick of pepperoni in our homemade sauce. It gives it a great flavor and I will just admit it, I am a fan of the cooked pepperoni. Doing without it makes me want it even more and then I really miss it when I cannot use it. So, I save my pasta for other days of the week. Plus sometimes there are meatballs, etc.
I know you are thinking the easiest thing in the world to eat on those days is fish. Heck, even the fast food restaurants at this time of year roll out their fish sandwiches, and I can only assume it is for those people that do follow the meatless Fridays so they have an option other than the hamburger or chicken sandwich. That would make sense, except I hate fish. Hate it. Tuna, salmon, cod, flounder, catfish, tilapia – you name it, I hate it.
I do not, however, hate shellfish. Well, not all shellfish anyway. I like shrimp. So maybe you can say I don't like anything but shrimp and lobster (tails only) but the lobster I cannot afford so there goes that. I can always also go with the old standby grilled cheese, which in fact is what I am making this particular Friday.
Instead of resenting the fact that I am told that I am not to eat meat on Fridays during Lent, I decided to embrace the fact and used this to try out some great recipes that I normally would not try. For example, how many times can you eat shrimp scampi without getting tired of it? I mean, it is fine but I like to change it up sometimes instead of just thinking, “Oh yay, shrimp scampi AGAIN.” I want something filling too, so shrimp cocktail is not going to cut it. Appetizer, great – meal, not so much.
One dish is shrimp with onion and red and yellow peppers and lemon juice. Nice and fresh, light, and healthy. Not a bunch of butter and oil like scampi has which makes it a great dish for those watching that, and carb free. You could even add (if you are intent on having spaghetti with your shrimp as the bed) zoodles, which is zucchini spiralized into noodles. You can also do that with squash. Makes it a bit heartier.
Don't lament over the days that you have to avoid meat, and embrace it by trying something new. A new recipe, a new way to eat something, even a new dish. Maybe you never tried fish or shrimp or something else and now would be a perfect opportunity to try it. You may just like it and find that you have been missing something all this time!