Meatless meals to savor on Lenten Fridays

18 Recipes
Jackfruit carnitas tacos.
(Zohra Banon/Zohra Banon)

18 recipes to tempt your tastebuds


With Lent upon us, now is as good a time as any to add to your repertoire of meatless recipes. Although many Americans eat meat three times a day, any vegetarian or vegan will tell you that you don’t really need meat to eat well. If you want something other than good old fish sticks and tuna casserole for dinner, read on.

Jackfruit carnitas tacos with a spicy chipotle sauce are a quick, easy meaty-feeling vegan option. Another almost effortless option is zesty sizzling ginger scallion sauce with pan-seared tofu. “Blackened” snapper with a salad of crunchy pickles will also light up your taste buds with little effort. Orecchiette, little pasta “ears” with breadcrumbs and broccoli rabe, is a texture fest that leaves you feeling like it was hours rather than minutes in the making.

Don’t be scared off by seemingly labor-intensive dishes. A vegetarian paella has fewer ingredients and many fewer steps than the classic version. No-boil noodles let you make a pan of lasagna without having to deal with the hassle of the pasta pot and noodles sticking together. Using bechamel sauce instead of tomato sauce for lasagne further reduces the preparation time. The luscious eggplant timbale is sort of like a reconfigured eggplant Parmesan — just as delicious and notably eye-catching.

Most of these dishes — and those below — can be prepared in an hour or less and are suitable for both casual and special-occasion meals. You may not be eating meat on Fridays during Lent, but you don’t have to do away with beautiful, delectable dinners full of flavor and texture.

Sizzling Ginger Scallion Sauce with Pan-seared Tofu

Spoon the sizzling ginger scallion sauce all over the pan-seared tofu right before serving.
Time15 minutes
YieldsServes 4

Salmon skewers with tamarind sauce

These salmon skewers with tamarind sauce, adapted from a recipe by chef Marcus Samuelsson, make a quick weeknight meal and also work well if you’re planning for company.
Time1 hour 10 minutes
YieldsServes 6 to 8

Paella with artichokes and mushrooms

Aromatic paella is made with artichokes and mushrooms, garlic, olive oil, saffron, mushroom broth and rice. Not a sausage or a piece of chicken, a shrimp or a mussel to be found.
Time1 hour 30 minutes
YieldsServes 6

Orecchiette With Broccoli Rabe and Garlic Bread Crumbs

This simple pasta dish is all about textures--crisp-tender broccoli rabe, slightly chewy orecchiette, crunchy garlic bread crumbs and creamy ricotta cheese, which melts into a sauce.
Time30 minutes
YieldsServes 4

“Blackened” Snapper with Crunchy Pickle Salad

Red snapper fillets are blackened with Korean chile flake butter and served with pickled crunchy vegetables.
Time40 minutes
YieldsServes 4 to 8.

Lasagne ai funghi

Lasagne is a layered, luxurious delivery system for flavor, made with thin egg noodles and bolstered by silken pools of the thickened buttery sauce known as besciamella in Italian.
Time2 hours
YieldsServes 8 to 12

Slow-Roasted Salmon with Dill and Lemon Salsa Verde

A simple side of salmon gets showered with an Italian-style salsa verde, made with dill, walnuts and lemon, as soon as it comes out of the oven to add brightness to the rich fish.
Time45 minutes
YieldsServes 4 to 6

Vegan Jackfruit Carnitas Tacos

This vegan jackfruit carnitas tacos recipe is shared by Jocelyn Ramirez of L.A.-based catering company Todo Verde in her cookbook, "La Vide Verde."
Time45 minutes
YieldsServes 4 to 6

Cafe des Artistes' fillet of sole Provencal

Tender, light fillets of sole are baked quickly in a hot oven, then topped with a warmed Provencal-style salsa of Moroccan olives, capers, tomatoes and fresh basil.
Time30 minutes
YieldsServes 4

Eggplant timbale

This eggplant cake-like creation has just enough cheese to add umami without being heavy. The sweet-acid tomato sauce balances the rich, fried eggplant.
Time2 hours 30 minutes
YieldsServes 6 to 8

Red lentil soup with berbere

This pot of lentil soup uses red lentils, turmeric and ghee plus a healthy dose of homemade berbere, the addictive Ethiopian spice blend that dyes the soup red and jettisons the flavor.
Time50 minutes
YieldsServes 8 to 12

Fava Bean Scampi

Fava beans combine with lemon, chile flakes and wine for a vegetarian spin on scampi pasta.
Time15 minutes
YieldsServes 4.

Crispy-Skin Salmon with Brown Butter and Chile Vinaigrette

The secret to cooking salmon to get a crispy skin? Don't touch it.
Time30 minutes
YieldsServes 2

Roasted Mushroom Stroganoff

Roasting the mushrooms infuses this creamy, meatless stroganoff recipe with umami flavor, making it the ultimate vegetarian main dish that's just as hearty.
Time1 hour 10 minutes
YieldsServes 4 to 6.

Cafe Roka's artichoke and portobello mushroom lasagna

With layers packed with fresh spinach, portobello mushrooms, artichokes and gooey mozzarella, there's no shortage of creamy richness in this lasagna.
Time2 hours
YieldsServes 10 to 12

Roasted Branzino With Tomatoes and Olives

Tomatoes, olives and capers bathe two whole branzinos in this Roman dish.
Time50 minutes
YieldsServes 2 to 4

Tofu with shiitake mushrooms and baby bok choy

Fresh ginger root and green onions make a wonderful spicy ginger sauce for quickly pan-fried tofu, steamed baby bok choy and stir-fried shiitake mushrooms.
Time25 minutes
YieldsServes 4

Crunchy cauliflower steaks alla parmigiana

A crunchy cloud of flavor sits atop tender slabs of roasted cauliflower, which have been garnished with tomato sauce and Parmesan.
Time1 hour
YieldsServes 4 to 6