Since moving to Cajun Country over ten years ago, I have dived headfirst into all things in the kitchen. At one point I owned and operated a vegan cookie business, I routinely cook all of the meals for our house, and I don’t want to brag or anything but my parents, as well as in-laws, have requested some of my dishes over again. While I’m no Anne Burrel, I am definitely not the Worst Cooks in America. To add to my credits I have come in second place in an episode of Chopped quarantine edition. I wasn’t really on the show, my friends and I hosted a zoom Chopped challenge and I feel like the real Food Network Chopped would want me to clarify (but I’m still a dang good chef nonetheless).
My repertoire of recipes spans from lamb-heavy Irish cooking, where my husband and I honeymooned in 2018, to vegetarian and everything in between (currently obsessing over all the curry). While we prefer the meat to the meatless, we have spent the past six weeks doing three meatless meals a week. I’ve got five meatless meals for your family to try during lent this year!
1. Farmhouse vegetable soup is our go-to soup: the perfect balance of comfort & winter in one bowl.
Most of Ireland is rainy, dreary, and wet for large portions of the year, so sitting down at a restaurant and having this brought to you after walking the countryside beats chips and salsa any day. I use the recipe from the cookbook, Real Irish Food by David Bowers, but you can also use this recipe I found online which is very similar. Serve like the Irish as an appetizer or dinner for two!
2. Keeping with the soup theme, we order a few meals a week from Hello Fresh.
Besides being obsessed with that subscription life, they have many varieties to choose from when deciding your diet. We have loved the family-friendly ones, all toddler approved, and have options on the lighter side and pescatarian. Our meatless ones had a few hits as well, specifically the Italian Garden Veggie Soup. For a real good time add extra couscous.
3. Having grown up in Dallas, Texas, I was no fan of seafood. We are so sheltered from good seafood in Dallas that my mother’s favorite dish from Cajun country is corn and crab bisque.
First, we don’t do bisque in Texas, and secondly, I wouldn’t eat a crab in Dallas if you paid me. Steak and potatoes? Sure. Breakfast tacos with chorizo? Without hesitation. Seafood brought up from the coast that’s a day’s drive away? Hard pass. After 5 years in Lafayette, I met my husband, who has been the only person to successfully convince me to try seafood. It was actually me desperately wanting to be liked by his family that made me caved and try crabs for the first time. It was truly divine intervention because if I had missed out on crabs all my life, I would have unknowingly suffered something fierce. Regular blue point crabs, served anyway, are my favorite but they aren’t always in season. My Irish cookbook has a recipe for Devilled Crab that is mouth-watering just to read. There’s heavy cream involved, so serve on Fridays after a long week and you can lay on the couch afterward. Here’s a southern-style recipe from Pinterest if you don’t want to splurge for the cookbook.
4. While I do have some seafood favorites, pretty much just crab, we aren’t seafood forward in our house.
I have expanded my horizons for you with this Seared Fresh Tuna with Fennel Slaw from Pinterest, but the Whole 30 cookbook has got a tasty recipe as well. We tried to do Whole 30 as a detox when we got back from our honeymoon. It turned into Whole 48, as in we only lasted 48 hours before I went around begging my husband to cook me some rice. I still cook from the cookbook because I genuinely like the recipes, but for me, the Whole 30 lifestyle is no way to live in South Louisiana. More power to you brave souls who have actually completed the entire 30 days!
5. I mentioned before that we frequently order from Hello Fresh, basically addicted to how easy it is (re: my husband has no excuse to not cook). They have a cheesy black bean enchilada recipe that makes my mouth water just typing these words.
I have used and reused this recipe for family get-togethers, dinners for two, quick lunch for my son, the options are endless! I have switched out the beans for sweet potatoes and eggplant to mix it up. Be sure to season the eggplant with fajita seasoning or the like as it is bland on its own. Peep this link for the recipe and be sure to make a little thing of guac on the side!
Lent brings all kinds of opportunities for us to cleanse our pallet of one thing in exchange for something different. I hope this brings a little bit of newness and refreshment to your family mealtimes.