Looking for some tasty excitement while giving up meat as a luxury for Lent? These almost vegetarian recipes help you sneak in servings of fruit and vegetables into your diet without any feelings of deprivation. With the exception of chicken broth, this simple meatless soup and sandwich makes weeknight cooking a cinch for those observing the season of Lent. No one should feel like they’re giving up anything.
Sautéed onion, leeks, celery and garlic puréed with cauliflower and potato simmered in chicken broth combine with half and half to make a creamy base for gently wilted spinach. The soup can become vegetarian by substituting vegetable for chicken broth.
The buttered multi-grain toast and crisp green apple of grilled sandwiches provide a crunchy contrast to the creamy soup. Soft warm Brie and honey Dijon mustard provides a gooey sweet center.
If you haven’t given up alcohol for the season of Lent, a crisp white wine pairs well with this meal. We don’t observe, so Paul selected a 2017 Tocai Friulano from Cooper Mountain Vineyards in Willamette Valley, Oregon. Bon appétit!
Cream of Cauliflower and Spinach Soup
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 1 leek, chopped (white part only)
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp cracked white pepper
- 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
- 1 small potato, diced
- 3 cups chicken broth
- ½ bunch or 3 cups spinach, rinsed, drained, stemmed and chopped
- ½ cup half and half
- 2 green onions, chopped diagonally
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Bring a large, deep pot or Dutch oven of salted water to a boil.
- Add florets of cauliflower to boiling water. Bring to another boil again, then simmer for 10 minutes until tender. Remove florets from water and set aside. Discard water or consider using hot water to make a broth with a dry or wet bullion if you don’t have homemade or canned broth.
- Rinse and dry the same pot and saute onions, celery, and leeks in butter, salt and pepper on low heat for a few minutes. Stir in garlic. Cook vegetables until soft (not browned). Add broth and florets and heat to a simmer.
- Remove from heat. Pour contents of pot into a Vitamix or blender and purée. Be careful with the hot liquids! Purée in batches to prevent explosive results.
- Add the purée and chopped spinach to the same pot on low heat. Stir spinach until wilted. Add half and half and continue warm on low heat for five minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve in bowls garnished with chopped green onions.
Grilled Granny Smith Apple Melt Sandwichess
- 8 slices multi-grain bread
- 6 oz Brie, room temperature with wax removed
- Ground black pepper
- 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and thinly sliced
- 1 tsp honey
- 3 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- 2 Tbsp butter, room temperature
- Spread Brie on four slices of bread
- Crack pepper over Brie slices to taste.
- Add and even layer of apple slices on top of Brie.
- Combine honey and mustard in a small bowl and spread evenly on the other four slices of bread and top sandwich over the apple slices.
- Spread butter thinly on one side of each sandwich and place in non-stick skillet. Bring to medium heat and spread remaining butter on dry side of sandwiches.
- Flip each sandwich onto other side after about five minutes or until golden brown. Grill other side of each sandwich for 5 minutes or until Brie begins to melt.
- Remove from skillet and slice each sandwich diagonally to serve.