Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Meatless Meal Ideas for Lent

It's Ash Wednesday. Naturally that brings thought of self-sacrifice, and Easter. For those of us who are responsible for getting dinner on the table each evening, it also brings thoughts of, "What can I make tonight?". This week is particularly challenging for Catholics, as both today and Friday are supposed to be days of fasting and abstinence from meat. That's fine for the adults in the house, but I also want to serve something that my kids will actually eat.

We like fish fry as much as the next family, but I'm not willing to wait in the long lines that form during Lent, so unless BadDad is offering to pick some up, I need other options. My usual meatless repertoire includes homemade macaroni and cheese, pizza, scalloped potatoes, sweet potato soup, and omelets.  I know I can come up with more options, but that's off the top of my head, after a sleepless night, and a half cup of coffee. Give me time.

 Oh I know, the kids love breakfast for dinner but my hubby thinks that's unnatural. Yes, I married him anyway. The rest of us just indulge in pancakes at 6pm whenever he's away on business.

As for tonight, I think I'm going to go with the macaroni and cheese option. It's a family favorite, even when it's not Lent. My favorite recipe originated on the back of a San Giorgio Pasta box, a loooonnnnng time ago. I've changed it a bit in the ensuing years, but I want to give credit to their wonderful recipe that inspired mine. Here is my version:

Whole Wheat Macaroni and Cheese

1/2 box whole wheat pasta
1/4 cup butter or olive oil spread
1/4 cup flour
2&1/2 cups skim milk
1 cup shredded extra sharp Cheddar cheese (optional use 1/2 tomato basil cheddar)
1 cup shredded Colby-Jack cheese
dash of salt and pepper
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 2 quart casserole dish with cooking spray. Put pasta on to boil, and while it is cooking, melt the 1/4 cup of butter in a medium saucepan. Add the flour, salt and pepper. Slowly stir in the milk. Stir constantly, until the mixture thickens and comes to a slow boil. Remove from heat, add cheese and stir until melted. Drain cooked pasta, and pour into casserole dish. Add the cheese sauce and stir until combined. In small microwavable bowl, melt the 2 tbsp of butter. Stir in the breadcrumbs, and sprinkle mixture on top of casserole. Bake for 25- 30 minutes, until breadcrumbs are golden and cheese is bubbly. Serve with a side of vegetables. 6-8 servings

Leftovers reheat beautifully.

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