Rorate Caeli

You suggest: Share your favorite meatless recipes - I
On the return of Meatless Fridays in England and Wales

It must go down as the most relevant act for the lives of ordinary Catholics by any Episcopal Conference in many years: the collective decision of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales to reinstate, from September 16, 2011, the traditional Catholic penance of abstinence from meat on Fridays, mentioned here a few months ago.

The news agency of the Conference released an official note yesterday that is refreshingly clear and traditional:

Press release - Friday Penance

The Visit of Pope Benedict XVI evoked for many people the spiritual reality of life and rekindled hope and faith: hope in the goodness that is within people and in our society, and faith in God. Even if it is not easily articulated, a spiritual yearning is to be found within most people. This yearning is found also among Catholics who have lost touch with their faith or whose faith was never deeply rooted in a personal relationship with Christ. Wishing to respond to this yearning but perhaps lacking in confidence in talking about their own spiritual life, many Catholics are asking how they can witness to their faith; what can they do to help introduce their faith in Christ to others in simple and straightforward ways?

The Bishops of England and Wales recognise that simple acts of witness, accompanied by sincere prayer, can be a powerful call to faith. Traditional Catholic devotions such as making the sign of the cross with care and reverence, praying the Angelus, saying a prayer before and after our meals, to name only a few, are straightforward actions which both dedicate certain moments in our daily lives to Almighty God and demonstrate our love and trust in His goodness and providence. If these devotions have been lost or even forgotten, particularly in our homes and schools, we have much to gain from learning and living them again.

The Bishops have looked again at the role of devotions and the practice of penance, both of which can help to weave the Catholic faith into the fabric of everyday life. Our regular worship at Holy Mass on Sunday, the day of the Lord’s resurrection, is the most powerful outward sign and witness of our faith in Jesus Christ to our family, friends and neighbours. Sunday must always remain at the heart of our lives as Catholics.

The Bishops also wish to remind us that every Friday is set aside as a special day of penitence, as it is the day of the suffering and death of the Lord. They believe it is important that all the faithful again be united in a common, identifiable act of Friday penance because they recognise that the virtue of penitence is best acquired as part of a common resolve and common witness.

The law of the Church requires Catholics on Fridays to abstain from meat, or some other form of food, or to observe some other form of penance laid down by the Bishops’ Conference. The Bishops have decided to re-establish the practice that this penance should be fulfilled simply by abstaining from meat and by uniting this to prayer. Those who cannot or choose not to eat meat as part of their normal diet should abstain from some other food of which they regularly partake.

This decision will come into effect from Friday 16 September 2011.


The article above with a useful Question and Answer section is available as a PDF: Friday Penance (with Q & A)
What is there to add? All arguments which traditional-minded Catholics have used for years to defend their "stubbornness" are there. We hope that other Episcopal Conferences - particularly in Europe, where Catholic identity is so deeply in need of reinforcement and Catholics are in great need of distinctive marks  - may follow suit. And we also hope that the Supreme Legislator may reinstate it in Canon Law in its former fullness and abolish the "generous" possibilities of national opt-outs.

Now, in honor of this great decision of the Bishops of England and Wales, we would like to ask our readers to suggest to our friends in those two countries (and in the Isle of Man) who may be returning just now to this venerable practice recipes and tips on meatless dishes. For this first post, we would like to focus on dishes that do not contain any seafood or freshwater fish.

Our own Rorate suggestion is the Levantine dish known as mujaddara, moujadara, m'jadra etc (Arabic: مجدرة‎; Hebrew: מג'דרה; Cypriot Greek: Μουκ̌έντρα; Turkish: müceddere), a ridiculously inexpensive, protein-rich, and very interesting combination of rice, lentils, onions, and olive oil (we prefer the simpler versions, such as this one). What are your meatless and seafood-free suggestions?


Knight of Malta said...

Well, I almost feel guilty eating it on a Friday, but a New Mexico Red Chile Enchilada Platter certainly fits the bill as one of the better non-meat food items you can eat on Friday!

HSE said...

Mama’s Mac n’ Cheese (serves 6)
4 T butter
4 tsp all purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 cup half and half
salt & pepper to taste
8 ounces elbow macaroni noodles
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Boil macaroni to al dente, strain, and set aside. Be sure to salt the pasta water and don’t rinse the noodles! In a sauce pan, melt butter and whisk in the flour until a smooth paste-like consistency is reached. Add in the milk, half and half, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of black pepper. Stir constantly until the mixture comes to a boil, then remove from the heat and pour into the macaroni noodles. Stir well and mix in almost all of the cheddar cheese. Transfer immediately to a baking dish and sprinkle remaining cheddar cheese on top. With the oven set to 350*, bake covered for 10 minutes then remove the cover and bake for another 15 minutes, setting the oven to broil for the last 5 minutes. Broil until the top is golden brown (watch carefully). This recipe can be doubled, tripled, etc. Comfort food at its best!

Michael Ortiz said...

Julia Child’s Ratatouille Recipe

It will make you remember why French cooking is so good.

With a bagette, good red or white wine.

bon appetit!

Anonymous said...


I have meatless Wednesdays and Fridays!

This is a great place to post!

Anagnostis said...

Bread, peanut butter, salad vegetables, potatoes, baked beans, as fruit and nuts - all cheap, all easy. Don't you think this swapping of exotic recipes makes rather a farce of the whole thing? If this is a tiny first step towards the recovery of meaningful ascesis in the West, wouldn't it be better modestly to honour the spirit of it, rather than resorting immediately to inverted gluttony?

New Catholic said...

Thank you for your spiritual direction, dear "Orthodox" friend...

Many people, especially those responsible for family meals and who may not be used to specific meatless days, may find the experience of finding useful and test-tried recipes hard - and the reason we chose to begin this with seafood-free recipes is precisely to show that there is a wide variety of available options for Catholic families.

We are pleased to help ease them into this new weekly routine - and we are sorry to hear rice and lentils or macaroni and cheese are exotic to you.

Annie said...

Fish and Chips. Everybody likes fish and chips. Can't go wrong with that.

Mar said...

What on earth is "half and half"?

JDF said...

Not that I wish to spoil the celebration, but I was reading the Q&&A from the Bishops of England and Wales and it says this in the response to Q. 11:

"Failure to abstain from meat on a particular Friday then would not constitute a sin."

New Catholic said...

Yes, we had seen that, JDF. It is a complex matter, and we must avoid discussing it here - it is a matter better left to each Catholic and his confessor or spiritual director. I would only notice that the emphasis here is "on a particular Friday", but that should be read in the context of that long answer (that is, the permanent keeping of a spiritual of prayer and penance throughout the year, especially on Fridays).

Michael Ortiz said...

I would add that ascesis--for a Christian--is real, but also there is an underlying joyfulness as we look towards the ultimate Easter in eternity.

Getting children and others not immediately inclined to give something up is where we should be both innocent and clever-in the kitchen too!

I am not Spartacus said...

There are few things more nettlesome than the demand from others that they fast and abstain as they do.

The reinstitution of meatless Friday's in E & W is great news and I do not recall Holy Mother Church ever teaching that, say, Salmon and Basil Pesto Pasta, does not meat the abstinence requirement.

However, Holy Mother Church has never experienced a shortage of those who will tell others that they REALLY are not abstaining if they eat a good-tasting piece of fish.

And woe betide that Maine Catholic who takes advantage of the GREAT Lobster prices ($3.99/lb soft shell) and eats that on a Friday for he shall be considered a cheat and a fraud.

Kerry said...

Mar asked "What on earth is 'half and half'?" It is one of the least know causes of the Rebellion of the Colonists against the King, although more properly described as 'The Revolt of the King's chefs against the Rebels' It is a white substance, packaged in waxed cardboard purportedly half milk and half cream, and comes from creatures I will not describe on this blog. Heh.

Anagnostis said...

NC - I apologise for striking a rather pompous note (I must renew my resolution never to post before 10a.m.); I don't think my point is necessarily an "Orthodox" one, though. Even for someone who grew up in the affluent 60's, rather than the hungry 30's, the idea that one meatless day a week (eggs and dairy unaffected) would register with the average UK family as even a noticeable inconvenience, far less something they have to be supported and encouraged to achieve, seems ever so faintly ludicrous. Perhaps that's why some English bishops have declined to emphasise the notionally "penitential" aspect of the practice and are recommending it instead as a "mark of identity" - possibly the worst reason imaginable for fasting or abstaining.

Look, I think this is an encouraging development, and I wish it, and you (plural), well; I just think you need to be a little bit careful about how you speak about it, to avoid making it, and yourselves, ridiculous to outsiders. One guy on the internet, for example, was announcing with jubilation that "now I can look my Muslim neighbours in the face" on the basis of exchanging a sausage for a fish on Fridays. Puhleeeze.

Anonymous said...

Half and half is half milk and half cream.

New Catholic said...

"I am not Spartacus", perhaps then our next post in this series should be "Lobster recipes"... :)

I am not Spartacus said...

Dear N. C. There was a time in Bar Harbor, Maine that only the poor ate lobsters. The rich would buy them (Lobsters, not the poor; they had too many bones) and grind them up as fertiliser for the garden.

My Bride's grandfather, a Bar Harbor native who was a caretaker for the rich, used to tell us that when he thought nobody was looking he'd go down to the docks and buy a bushel of lobsters for his family.

Cruise the Groove. said...

Half and half is a pint of half stout and half ale.

Anonymous said...

The unity symbol is so clear, Please let's do this in the US as well. It was a powerful reminder every Friday in school when we did not have meat for lunch. Yes, some will say we can still and should observe it anyways but that is not the point. The point is it is not being done. Catholics, and people in general needs some forms of obedience to follow. Leaving it up to each individual to choose something each Friday invites forgetfullness as no concrete habits are formed..It is easier to observe something that we are all doing and you also get the reminder of those who know you are Catholic, from fellow Catholics, "Remember, today is Friday"...And we know exactly what to do fom there. SInce most are doing nothing, let's hope the Bishops in the US follow England's lead. Once we tell out children about it they will grow up with the observance and it will once again be rooted in the family and life of being a Catholic. No longer under pain of sin but still a mandatory abstention of meat on Friday I think is a good way of modernizing an age old tradition. The penalty has been relaxed but we must still perform the act.

Anonymous said...

There is a plethora of veg head recipes on the internet. Also, some of our religious orders did not eat meat for long periods of time or abstained altogether. They have published some of their recipes...can't recall off hand. Consider the Dominicans for example.

Elizabeth said...

I abstain from meat all the time, I do occasionally eat seafood, but it's a special occasion food for me. So on Fridays I abstain from dairy, eggs, seafood and of course meat. Even with this stricter abstinence it is possible to eat luxuriously but I'd usually have to work at it a little more; often I have some kind of bean dish for my main meal together with bread, pasta or rice, and vegetables. Anagnostis' idea of how to eat on a Friday sounds like my own (I also abstained from eggs/dairy/seafood all of Lent). But I don't say that is obligatory. I am a sinner and it seems right for me to do penance like this. There are others who are more innocent or have different constraints or needs.

Mary said...

In the winter I like to make vegetarian chili (Big Bowl of Red) or French Onion soup made with vegetable broth.

Curried chickpeas are also quite good.

Philippinensis said...

Here in my country where I've seen meat being sold inside church yards on Good Friday, and where many Catholics on Good Friday pilgrimages eat hamburgers along the way, even a restoration of abstinence on Lenten Fridays is a distant dream.

Joe B said...

This is a remarkable development that I would have said could not happen. When I harp on the issue of having a long way to go even after we get the TLM this is one of several areas that I'm referring to, but for non-traddies to skip over the TLM issue and reinstating something as wonderfully and uniquely Catholic as meatless Fridays - and a penitential one at that - why, a little more of this and I may have to ask for a good recipe of crow. I think this is a bigger development than it appears. They didn't have to do this.

Anonymous said...

In Malta, on Good Friday in particular, but certainly on any Friday, a special fish soup was served at home and in many throughout the land.

It is called Maltese Aljotta (pronounced Al-yotta) soup.

Recipe at this link:

Anonymous said...

People just relax about the exotic meals etc.

Share recipies and let's start encouraging people to eat meatless at least one day a week.

For me if I want to do penance I abtain from desert or say the 15 decades of the rosary while kneeling.

Our Lord asks for penance and sacrifice but some people take penance and sacrifice to the discouragement.

JulieC said...

My gang's favorite meatless dinner:

Seared tuna chunks with chili-lime mayonnaise,cabbage/cilantro/tomato/red onion slaw and diced mango, all wrapped up in homemade wheat tortillas with a squirt of lime.

Adeodatus said...

I just had dinner and I'm still getting a hankering for some ceviche.

HSE said...

Love those tuna steaks!

JMody said...

If we're talking about enchiladas, let's also consider chiles rellenos with rice.

My wife has a recipe for a bread/egg dish that goes like this:
slice the top from a crusty white loaf. Toast the "bowl" and make crumbs from the filling and the top. Mix the crumbs with eggs and creams and basil and spinach and onions and whatever else, pack this goop into the "bowl" and bake for 20 minutes at about 375F or 200C. Slice it. Enjoy it. If you can't make kids like this, consider hiring a cook!

Anonymous said...

Salmon burgers are the best!!!

I am a meat eater and believe it or not it is a real sacrifice for me not to eat meat on Wednesdays and Fridays.

You guys know how temptation works, you always want what you can't have.

But I have incorporated a few non meat foods products for those two days, and I praise the Almighty for the opportunity to offer it up.

Guy Fawkes said...

I resumed the meatless fridays use for my family in 2007. Since we live in Northern Italy, close to mountains and not too far from sea, we have a lot to choose from. In general, we eat fish (tuna or salmon steaks, stuffed squids, fried small fishes) or cheese (in my region there's an almost endless choice). During summer, a fresh salad of mozzarella and tomatoes with olives, olive oil and cucumbers wins the day. A simpler dish is a simple slice of (good) bread with tomatoes smashed on it, oil and salt (garlic if appreciated). In winter, we have polenta with cheese, or pasta with vegetables (try pasta with broccolis, garlic, chilli pepper, anchovies..), or various vegetable soup (this is really simple: you put on a great pot of water with salt and put in it sliced potatoes, carrots, spinachs, cabbage, beans, an onion, and let it boil for an hour or two).

I have to disagree with anagnostis: the "identitary" mark of meatless friday is rather impressive, especially when you have to politely decline meat offer in business lunches (maybe in front of your boss) or family reunion, or simply when one of your child is offered with a slice of bresaola during your food shopping and you have to explain to the grocer why you denied.

GE said...

Rice pilaw - tasty, easy and devoid of both fish and seafood though not of protein:

Cut an onion in pieces and cook it in olive oil in a deep frying pan or saucepan until soft but not brown. Add nuts (e.g. pistachios, cashews, almonds, pine nuts) and spices (e.g. cinnamon, cumin, cardamom). Then, add rice (preferably jasmine) and stir-fry them in the oil for a few moments, then add vegetable stock (1.5 dl per dl of rice) and salt. Turn the heat down to lowest, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Voilà!

Mar said...

Many thanks for the answers about 'half and half'. Kerry, is that why in some EU countries they describe the dairy product on the packaging as "allégué"? But I must
say I was rather perplexed about the half milk and half cream v. the half stout and half ale. Is there some kind of hermeneutic of continuity going on here of which I'm not aware?

Long-Skirts said...

How about just cheddar cheese?!!


A man's best friend
If you please
Is not a dog
But cheddar cheese.

A cheese whose taste
Runs sharp or mellow
Why cheese with beer
Can help a fellow

And make him look
Like a handsome hunk
When he passes some
To a girl that's drunk

In the local pub
If truth be told
When the girls get silly
Then cheese is gold

Where drafts of beer
Make you look better
As she gulps them down
With a side of cheddar!

...that's what my dear, grandmother, Marguerite Malarkey always said!! :-)

Kathleen said...

What a wonderful development!

If I understand correctly we want recipes with no fish this time, so this is a little something I throw together when I need something quick.

Pesto Pizza

Italian or French Bread, Sliced
Fresh Mozzarella, sliced
Sun Dried Tomatoes, Julienne Sliced (preferably olive oil packed)
Parmesan, grated
Italian Herbs and Spices

This makes a quick hot lunch. With a salad or soup it could be a light dinner. Use whatever is on hand, this is what I always have on hand.

Lightly toast one side of the bread in the broiler to crisp it.

Spread the desired amount of pesto on the non-toasted side (I like a ton, others like it light). Then distribute the Mozzarella.

Top with the sun dried tomatoes (which lend a nice satisfying element given the lack of meat/fish).

Sprinkle with parmesan and a sprinkle of Italian herbs and spices.

Broil for a minute or two to melt the cheese.

Herb & Spice Note: I make and keep spice mixes on hand and I use one of my Italian mixes for this. A sprinkle of whatever you have on the list would work too though. The Italian spice mix I like for this is below, I use it in a number of Italian dishes.

Italian Spice Mix:
2 tsp Salt
1 1/2 tsp Paprika ("sweet" or regular not hot)
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Onion Powder
1 tsp Thyme, Dry, Leaves
1 tsp Oregano, Dry, Leaves
1 tsp Basil, Dry, Leaves
1/2 tsp White Pepper, Ground
1/2 tsp Black Pepper, Ground
1/2 tsp Red Pepper, Ground

Anonymous said...

Half & Half is used for any liquid made of two equal parts. So mild/cream and stout/ale are both correct. Could also be hot coffee & hot chocolate - or - lemonade & iced tea.

Renee said...

I have difficulty following recipes, but I'll do the best I can to write it out here. We love this corn chowder, especially with fresh, homemade rolls or bread. As the mom of a growing family (4 children +1 on the way) this is easy to make in a mondo huge portion and then freeze. If you freeze, you can choose to add the yogurt after thawing, or not. We like it either way.

1. Sautee 1 onion and 1 rib celery in butter until tender. Add 1tsp. minced garlic (one clove), and paprika to taste and sautee for 30 sec more.

2. Add 1 cup vegetable broth, a bay leaf and 1 medium chopped potato. Add enough water to cover potatoes. Cook about 20 minutes or until potatoes are soft.

3. Add two cups fresh or frozen SWEET corn, and cook until heated.

4. Strain out a cup or two of the veggies (with a little broth) into a blender. Blend until smooth (don't blend the bayleaf!).

5. Add about a cup of yogurt (plain or vanilla--the vanilla adds nice depth of flavor to the spicier soup) to the blender and mix in.

6. Add blended items back into pot.

7. Add a chopped red pepper, and any other seasonings you like. We have used a homemade cajun seasoning,Tony Chachere's, cayenne pepper, regular pepper and salt. Do it to your taste. Also, a bit of lemon juice (about a tsp) adds another dimension.

8. Serve with the option of an extra dollup of yogurt or sour cream, shredded cheese, and bread.

This recipe is also a great base-- you can add diced ham or chicken on other days of the week, and again, you can double/triple/quadruple it easily and freeze in portion sized bags or containers.Enjoy!

Mary said...

This is a wonderful development. Much blessings will be bestowed upon England and Wales for this small act of Faith and Devotion. Our family decided to abstain from meat on Fridays about 15 years ago.
Our favourite economical Friday feed is Tuna vol-a-vents.
Chop and boil couple of large onions little salt, set aside.
Make up a Bechemal sauce - Ingredients
5 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups milk
2 teaspoons salt

In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium-low heat until melted. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Over medium heat, cook until the mixture turns a light, golden sandy color, about 6 to 7 minutes.

Slowly whisk the hot milk into the butter mixture 1 cup at a time, whisking continuously until very smooth. Bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes, stirring constantly, then remove from heat. Season with salt.

Fold boiled onion and lots of parsley and flaked tinned tuna into the sauce.
Spoon into vol-a-vent cases, top with grated cheese and brown in oven.

Great with a Salad.

Anonymous said...

Dhal is known as the poor man's cuirry because it does not have meat althought some people make it with meat stock. A bowl of dhal made with vegetable stock is nourishing, delicious and cheap to prepare. Perhaps the money you save by not eating meat on Fridays could be placed in the collection each Sunday.
Best wishes to the editors and readers of this blog. This is one the best Catholic blogs and I read nearly every day.

Gratias said...

Google "torta pascualina". This means Easter cake and is eaten in South America on Good Friday. It is a spinach or Swiss chard pie, yummy.

berenike said...

Pasta with curds (or cottage cheese, I suppose).

Pasta with chopped tomatoes and olive oil.

Salt herring and boiled potato.

Herring stovies. Stovies without herring.


Beans with tomato and olive oil and whatever herbs - savoury is good - with rice or potatoes.

FranzJosf said...

Here's a main course that was inspired by a side dish from Central Europe. It is nice enough for a main course for company. Although the combination of ingredients may strike some as odd, I always get many compliments.

You will need:

1 lb. linguini
1 eggplant (aubergine)
1 small onion, chopped
1 lb. mushrooms, sliced
2 or more tbsp. butter
2 heaping tbsp. flour
1 carton and 1 can vegetable stock
salt and pepper
optional heavy cream
chopped parsley for garnish

1. Remove skin from eggplant and chop into thick pieces about 3 inches long. Salt. Wrap in a kitchen towel for half an hour to draw out moisture.

2. When ready, put on water for linguini and cook according to package directions, being careful not to overcook.

3. In a dutch oven or very large skillet, melt the butter and add the onion, cooking to make translucent, not brown.

4. Add the eggplant and mushrooms and cook until done. And add a generous amount freshly ground pepper. (I wait on the salt, until I've tasted the stock.)

5. Sprinkle everything with the flour and stir to cook the flour for 2 min.

6. Stir in the stock and bring to a boil to thicken. Then turn down the heat and enrich, if you like, with some cream or with some butter (to make it glossy). If it is too thick, add some pasta water. If it is not thick enough, make a paste of softened butter and flour and stir in bit by bit (it won't lump this way) and turn up heat again to thicken.

(Taste for salt and pepper)

7. Add the pasta and combine.

8. Turn out onto a warm platter (or individual plates) and garnish with the chopped parsley. Serve with a good bread.

Anonymous said...

They sell big boxes of frozen, beer battered cod filets at Sam's Club. Along with some steamed broccoli that is usally my Friday evening fare. Yummy, Deo Gratias.

Mar said...

Very quick recipe. Fry up sliced tomatoes and onions in butter and olive oil. Serve on top of toasted bread.

berenike said: Salt herring and boiled potato. Yum. For even more yum pour over pure cream (runny, not dollop) and sprinkle with lots of chopped onion chives.

Vegetarian risottos, for example, shitake mushroom risotto for its distinctive, appetising smell and flavour.

Mar said...

Chunky avocado dip. Roughly mash two largish avocadoes so that there are still individual pieces evident. Add juice of half lemon; half red capsicum - roughly chopped; quarter to half (depending on strength of onion taste desired) red onion - roughly chopped; salt and pepper to taste. Mix together carelessly.

Serve with any kind of bread or dipping crackers.