Try these recipes to liven up your Lent
by Kara Hansen
Special to The Leaven
Are you already tired of tuna fish casserole and grilled cheese sandwiches for Lenten family dinners? If you are staying in on a Friday night and need some inspiration for some new meat-free recipes, you are in luck.
Advertising manager Jennifer Siebes may be an outgoing and dedicated member of The Leaven’s staff by day, but her real passion lies in the kitchen. A mother of four who previously owned her own catering company, Siebes is a true foodie. Here she shares four tried-and-true recipes to take your Friday night meal up a notch.
“I tried to offer two easy options for busy families — Santa Fe salad and quiche — and two recipes that take a little longer for those who enjoy spending more time in the kitchen,” said Siebes. “I also tried to pick recipes that would please all ages, from little children to adults. In keeping with the true intention of fasting, I also tried to select recipes with primarily inexpensive and modest ingredients.”
Recipes are made to serve at least four people.
Family members can personalize their own quiche with a variety of fillings. Almost anything you have on hand works in a quiche. Serve with fresh fruit, a small salad or hash browns.
1 ready-made, refrigerated pie crust
3 eggs, beaten
1 ½ C milk
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
1 Tbl. flour
4 oz. shredded cheese (Swiss, cheddar, Gouda, etc.)
2 diced green onions
Fillings: mushrooms, diced tomatoes, artichoke hearts, asparagus, zucchini, broccoli, spinach, crabmeat, or shrimp.
Whisk milk, salt, pepper and flour into beaten eggs and set aside. Cut pie crust into four quarters. Press into greased custard cups and place into a casserole dish containing an inch of water. Add desired fillings. Top with cheese. Pour egg mixture over fillings; bake in a 375° oven for 40-45 minutes, until knife inserted in center comes out clean.
Smokey Shrimp Soup
(makes 8+ cups)
This is a hearty tomato, potato and cheese-based soup with a slightly smoky flavor. If there are non-fish eaters in your family, simply serve them the soup prior to adding the shrimp in the final step.
2 med. potatoes, peeled and diced
2 ½ C vegetable broth (can substitute chicken broth outside of Lent)
1 med. onion, chopped
½ C celery, chopped
8 oz. shredded American and cheddar cheese (or 8 oz. diced Velveeta)
2 C milk, warmed
12 oz. can tomato puree
4 oz. can diced green chiles
1 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbl. liquid smoke
½ lb. small or medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and cooked
Simmer potatoes, onions and celery in broth until tender. Add tomato puree and green chiles. Blend in a food processor (or blender) until smooth. Return to a double boiler set on medium-low heat. Add milk, cheese, liquid smoke and pepper. Whisk until cheese melts and soup is smooth. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking until hot, about 1 ½ hours. Add the shrimp during the last 10 minutes. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with Parmesan or Romano cheese and dried parsley.
Santa Fe Chopped Salad
(serves 4 – 6)
To make this a kid-friendly recipe if your children do not enjoy salad, use the toppings without the lettuce. Try topping a plate of tortilla chips with shredded cheddar cheese. Melt in the oven and top with the black bean salsa and sour cream.
Black bean salsa
1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 can petite diced tomatoes, drained
1 can corn niblets (or 1 C frozen)
1 can (4 oz.) chopped green chiles
½ red onion, chopped
1-2 green or colored bell peppers, chopped
1 avocado, diced
½ tsp. salt ½ tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
* juice of one lemon or lime
2 heads romaine lettuce
1 C shredded cheddar cheese sour cream and tortilla chips for garnish
Southwestern Ranch Dressing
½ pkg Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix
½ pkg taco seasoning
½ C mayonnaise
1 C milk
Combine vegetables, spices and juice in a large bowl and toss. Wash and tear lettuce; divide among plates. Top with black bean salsa and cheddar cheese; drizzle with dressing. Garnish with sour cream and tortilla chips.
Red and White Manicotti
This dish is as appealing to the eyes as it is for the stomach, with its combination of traditional marinara and Alfredo sauce. Jarred marinara sauce also saves time on a busy evening.
1 box (8 oz.) manicotti noodles
3 C ricotta cheese (12 oz. container)
2 beaten eggs
2 C shredded mozzarella cheese
½ C grated Parmesan cheese
1 pkg. (9 oz.) frozen chopped spinach
1 jar (28 oz.) marinara pasta sauce
Boil manicotti noodles according to package directions. Thaw spinach in the microwave and squeeze out excess liquid. Pour marinara sauce into a 9 x 12 casserole dish. Mix beaten eggs, spinach and three cheeses in a large bowl. Put cheese mixture into a one-gallon zip-lock bag. Remove excess air, snip off one of the lower corners and pipe filling into manicotti shells as if using a pastry bag. Place stuffed shells into casserole and cover with Alfredo sauce. Sprinkle with dried basil or oregano and additional Parmesan cheese if desired. Cover with foil; bake at 350° for 40 minutes.
Basic Alfredo Sauce (3 cups)
¼ C butter
2 garlic cloves, chopped
¼ C flour
½ tsp. salt
2 cups milk, heated
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
dash of nutmeg
Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and stir to combine. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add milk slowly, whisking until smooth. Add Parmesan cheese and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened and bubbly, about 3 – 4 minutes.