Easy Vegetarian & Meatless Recipes for Lent

shrimp diablo or camarones a la diabla

Looking for meatless meals this and every Lent season, like so many familias who observe the Catholic calendar? Every February and March, during Lent’s six Fridays, fish and vegetarian dishes take center stage at the tables of millions of us, including some of the most dedicated carnivores. Lent always starts on Ash Wednesday, which this year happens to fall on Feb. 14 (Valentine’s Day!) and goes through Holy Thursday, March 28. The season culminates in the celebration of Easter Sunday. Cue images of colorful egg hunts, end of fasting, and Easter hats.

Or perhaps you eat meatless meals year round? Familia Kitchen is here to inspire every single one of you with traditional and delicioso vegetarian and fish recipes from our community of family-famous Familia Kitchen homecooks. Here’s our roundup of pescatarian and vegetarian dinner ideas!

Keep scrolling for delicioso recipes, including: shrimp diablo, shrimp empanadas, shrimp ceviche and shrimp mofongo, to whole-fried Colombian mojarra fish and fish escabeche, to tacos with papas and poblano rajas, and finally to rice and beans three ways: Mexican-, Cuban- and Puerto Rican-style. All delicioso! Plus: one family’s very special capirotada, a sweet and filling Mexican bread dish. Each of these recipes is personally vouched for by Familia Kitchen homecooks, whose families have been making these Lent Friday recipes for generaciones.

Shrimp Diablo or Camarones a la Diabla: Fancy, Fiery & Easy

Air Fryer Fish Tacos: Spicy & Guilt-Free

Crispy Bacalaitos, Puerto Rico’s Famous Cod Fritters

Shrimp empanadas Emily Gonzalez

Emily’s Mexican Shrimp Empanadas

Empanadas, particularly these ones filled with shrimp, are intimately linked to Mexican holidays, like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Lent. The preparation of shrimp empanadas becomes a joyous and collaborative process, uniting people and my family members as we all pitch in to make and eat them together,” says Emily González, 22, who lives in Chicago’s Albany Park, which she calls ”the most diverse neighborhood“ in the city.

shrimp ceviche

Bex’s Shrimp Ceviche with Lime, Lemon & Mango

”This shrimp ceviche was created for a very special person in my familia,” writes Bex Streeper, one of our favorite Puerto Rican-Mexican food homecooks. Bex cures the shrimp in two types of citrus juices: lime and lemon. And then, for a touch of extra, she adds a third juice: mango. It’s unusual, and triple delicioso.

Mofongo with shrimp by Bex, grand prize winner Familia Kitchen

Mofongo with Shrimp & Garlicky Mojo

“Mofongo with shrimp is one of my favorite dishes,” says homecook Bex Streeper about this iconic mashed-plantain dish. “It is often my first meal I seek out when I’m in Puerto Rico. In my opinion, this dish is the greatest representation of Puerto Rican food.” Making it with shrimp means it’s ideal for Lenten Fridays and year-round no-meat eating.

Colombia fish mojarra fried 2

Fried Whole Mojarra from Colombia

If you make pescado frito for Lent or any other dinner, Janeth recommends pairing it with two popular, traditional Colombian sides: patacones con hogao (fried green plantain rounds with a zingy tomato sauce) and savory-sweet arroz con coco or coconut rice.

Lisa fish escoveche Panama

Fish in Escabeche, Sweet & Tart

When her grandmother made this family-famous fish in escabeche, there were rarely any leftovers, says Lisa Kear, one of our favorite Panamanian home cooks. This pescado dish was served year round and especially during Lent and Holy Week. Since vinegar acts as a preservative, the fish was made before they left for church or evening processions. Hours later, on their return from church, the fish escabeche was waiting, ever-fresh, ready to enjoy. What a delicioso, traditional family-famous meal to look forward to as a child—one she is still honored to make for her family today, Lisa says.

Baja fish tacos with pineapple and chipotle spicy sauce.

Baja-Style Fish Tacos With Tilapia, Pineapple & Chipotle

These Baja-style sauce-drizzled tilapia fish tacos are loved in the home of MariCarmen Ortiz Conway of St Louis, Missouri. ”I use tilapia, which is sweet, light and fresh-tasting and takes on the flavors of the chile and cilantro beautifully.” And be sure to serve these fish tacos with flour tortillas (not corn) for the most traditional pairing. “Believe me: these tacos are so good.”

potato tacos de papa

Tacos de Papa and Rajas

Potato tacos or tacos de papa with rajas are a traditional go-to in Mexico when you want to make a home-cooked, hearty, hot meal for a large family or group of friends. They are creamy-spicy-melty delicious — and one of our favorite tacos here at Familia Kitchen

calabacitas Mexican

Marifer’s Calabacita or Mexican Squash

This calabacita or Mexican squash sautéd with red bell peppers, tomatoes and corn is one of the dishes Marifer Rodriguez, a vegetarian Texas college student, most looked forward to during childhood visits to her grandmother in Mexico. “It always tasted so good,” she remembers.

Mexican refried beans 2

Mexican Frijoles de Olla or Refried Pinto Beans

Anjie Villalobos makes these beans the same way her grandmother simmered frijoles back in New Mexico. “She always had these beans in the house. It was one of my favorite things to eat when I was little and we’d go over,” Anjie remembers. Refried pintos are abuela cooking at their time-honored best.

Congri or Cuban rice

Arroz Congrí, Cuba’s Essential Black Beans & Rice

basic beans puerto Rican

Titi’s Easy Puerto Rican Beans with Sweet Calabaza

These super-easy, super-good Puerto Rican beans — habichuelas guisadas — with calabaza or pumpkin were served at my aunt’s house regularly. Unlike Familia Kitchenco-founder Kim’s grandmor’s from-scratch recipe for red beans, Titi’s recipe starts by opening a can of red or pink habichuelas and uses sofrito, always a good thing in Boricua cooking.

black beans white rice

Emily’s Black Beans & Rice, from Cuba with Mucho Amor

Filling, affordable and delicioso, habichuelas negras are served pretty much every week in her Cuban-Mexican family, no matter the time of day or the dish they accompany. ”We eat them in the morning with eggs, mix them with chicken in quesadillas, put them in our empanadas, serve them for Lent, birthdays and Thanksgiving. And so many other dishes,” says Emily González, a vegetarian who lives in Chicago.

This capirotada, the traditional Mexican bread pudding made every Easter Good Friday, is made with Mexican bolillo loaves, piloncillo unrefined sugar, and other sweet sabores. Capirotada is a delicious, hearty and the time-honored way to fill the hungry bellies and hearts of her fasting family and neighbors after six or seven weeks of no-meat Fridays. The Christian symbolism is baked into the traditional dish: The bread represents the body of Christ, the piloncillo syrup his blood, the cinammon sticks the cross, and the the cloves the nails that pierced his hands, side and feet.

The dish was the the star of Abuelita Toña’s spread in East Los Angeles every year, says her daughter Naomi Rodriguez. ”This is a very traditional dish for Mexican people. And it’s amazing.” Naomi, her sister Beatriz, and the rest of their large familia look forward all year to taking that first dulce bite of their mother’s family-famous dessert, which her daughters now bake in her memory.

capirotada bread pudding for easter
Lent and Latino food
Lent and Latino food