During the Lenten season, some Christians choose to abstain from meat for 40 days, or they choose to abstain on certain dates. On Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and all of the Fridays in between, many go meatless eating only vegetables and seafood.
Restaurants often offer special dishes for Lent that fit these dietary restrictions, and deliveries of plain or veggie pizzas increase greatly on Friday nights. Of course, cooking at home is always an option, too, and these savory, delicious casseroles can be very satisfying. No one will miss the meat and you might just put these into rotation other times of year as well.
Vegetarian Ricotta & Eggplant: Cheese and more cheese — ricotta and Parmesan — hold together layers of eggplant, all joined by a savory tomato sauce.
White Spinach Lasagna: A thick, cheesy white sauce replaces tomato sauce in this lasagna that's filled with ricotta and spinach.
Vegetarian Mexican Casserole: Soyrizo, (a soy-based version of chorizo that mimics the texture of ground beef) and roasted vegetables, plus plenty of cheese go into this gooey and comforting casserole.
French Onion Soup Casserole: This casserole is like a mini-grilled cheese sandwich on top of a casserole. It's less soupy than classic French onion soup but still has all the flavors, plus some additions like mushrooms.
Tunisian Tagine with Cinnamon Bread Topping: And now for something a little different, this casserole is like having cheesy French toast over tomato-y bean soup. Strange sounding if you're not used to this type of cuisine, but delicious.
Spinach and Artichoke Pasta Alfredo Casserole: This scrumptious and casserole mimic the flavors of the popular spinach and artichoke dip, but adds orzo pasta — or another pasta of your choosing — to make it a meal.
Salmon Pasta Bake: Lemon butter salmon is flaked and aded to pasta that's been coated with the pan juices from cooking the salmon. Simple and several steps up from the tuna noodle casseroles many serve at Lent.
What about eggs, milk and cheese? An eagle-eyed reader wrote in to say that cheese is a no-no for the most important days of Lent, but that doesn't appear to be true across the board. Our research found that while some churches have a strict interpretation of what constitutes a meat byproduct, the majority of Catholic churches follow the premise that anything that lacks meat flavor — including eggs, milk and cheese — is permitted, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.