Thursday, March 5, 2009

Meatless Meals for Lent Using Beans

Meatless meals on Fridays during Lent are not a problem for my family – we are very fortunate that our parish has a meatless dinner followed by the Stations of the Cross every Friday during Lent. Despite this, we enjoy many meatless meals throughout the year, as I have found it to be a real money-saver. I also have been made aware in the past year or so that the meatless Fridays obligation was not actually removed… if we do not refrain from eating meat on Fridays, we are supposed to substitute another sacrifice. So, seeing as I was already making at least two meatless dinners a week, I have begun to plan one of those meals for Fridays.

Here are two of our favorite, relatively easy, and healthy bean recipes:

Bean Chalupas

This makes three full-size chalupas (two tortillas each). Younger children may only eat half of a whole chalupa.

1 can pinto beans (can cook dry beans instead if desired)
Cumin to taste
Cilantro to taste
6 whole grain flour tortillas
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 avocado, thinly sliced
¾ cup cheddar, shredded
¾ cup Monterey jack, shredded

Optional toppings:
Sour cream
Shredded lettuce
Diced red bell pepper
Sliced black olives

Heat a small amount of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook each tortilla for a few minutes on both sides. Make sure to watch them carefully as they can burn easily, especially when cooking the second side (you may find that it helps to add more oil for each tortilla). Set aside. You can also proceed to the next step if you are able to keep an eye on the tortillas as well.

Drain most of the liquid from the can of beans. Heat beans on the stove, then mash to make a paste. Season with cumin and cilantro. Place three tortillas on a large baking sheet and divide the bean mixture evenly onto each tortilla, spreading it to the edges. Top with tomatoes, avocado, and cheese. Bake in a 375 degree oven for seven minutes. This time can be used to either cook the remaining three tortillas or to prepare the toppings.

Top each chalupa with remaining tortillas and return to the oven for an additional two minutes. Add desired toppings and enjoy!

Toddler Tip: These can be hard for little mouths to handle if they are made too thickly. I try to make one with a much thinner layer of beans, tomatoes, and cheese so that my little one can eat it more easily. If it is thin enough, you may be able to cut it into wedges like a quesadilla. I usually use a pizza wheel to cut it into small pieces that she can pick up with a fork. My husband and I cut them up with serrated steak knives, which seem to work better on the crispy tortilla than a table knife.

Red Beans and Rice

This is a recipe that my mother used to make on Fridays during Lent. It is very easy and uses simple ingredients. We like to have cornbread on the side.

½ lb. Dry red beans
¼ cup chopped onion
1 tsp. Cumin
1 tsp. Cilantro
1 cup uncooked rice (we use brown rice)
Shredded cheddar (as much as desired!)
Sour cream, if desired

Rinse, sort, and soak beans according to package directions. Once beans have completed soaking, place them in a pot with approximately three cups of water. Add the onions and seasonings and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer, covered, at least 1 – 1 ½ hours. Check the water every so often and add more water if it begins to get low.

Cook the rice according to package directions so that it will be ready at about the same time as the beans. Serve the beans over the rice and top with cheese and sour cream if desired. This makes 4 generous servings.

And an easy meatless lunch idea… top a layer of tortilla chips with a can of drained black beans. Add cheeses, olives, tomatoes, salsa, and bake for just a few minutes in the oven to make nachos!

I hope these ideas make plain ol’ beans sound a bit more appealing!

This post was written by Erin at Growing my Girls for publication here at Catholic Cuisine. Thank you Erin!

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  1. These chalupas sound delicious! We might be using jalepenos for a topping too... :) Thanks for posting!

  2. Those sound wonderful. Thank you!

  3. I think it’s great that you prepare meatless meals for your family all year long. Did you know that cutting back on saturated fats by 15% - which is equivalent to going meatless one day a week - reduces your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and stroke? As you mentioned it can also save you quite a bit of money.
    I just started working for a non-profit campaign called Meatless Mondays which encourages Americans to cut meat from their diets once a week. We have lots of great recipe ideas on our website, including "Meredith’s Black Beans and Rice". You can check it out by going to

  4. Excellent recipes for Lent and all year round. Thank you!