Meatless Fridays, Week 2

$5,613!!! That is how much you helped me raise for the Sisters of Life last week. The tips so many of you left in my Venmo tip jar were beyond generous, and I am grateful for every single one. My hope at this point is that we can raise a total of $10,000 for the Sisters before the end of Lent. They’ll be able to use that money to assist moms facing unplanned pregnancies, as well as women grieving abortions. My prayer is that someday they’ll also offer a retreat for grieving post-adoptive birth moms. This is such an unmet need in the Church, and I can think of no better women to take on that work than these beautiful sisters. If any of you want to join me in that prayer, I would really appreciate that.

Okay, now on to the next collection of meatless recipes for your Lenten Fridays (or Fridays all year round).

Fast & Easy: Oven-Baked Caprese Sandwiches

Serves: 4; Prep Time: 5 Minutes; Cook Time: 15 minutes

This is an old favorite that I used to serve at my Thursday night dinners. My friend Rob calls them “Emily Sandwiches”…but that descriptor doesn’t quite work for the Internet. I bake these in the oven, which works well for a crowd, but you can also broil them, grill them, or use a panini press if you have one. To modify for kiddos, just leave off the ingredients they won’t eat, even if that means stripping them down to just the cheese and bread.

When I baked these up the other day, I cooked up some red peppers and zucchini with olive oil and salt, to serve on the side. It was a fantastic complement to the sandwiches. A simple salad would be great, too, though.


  • Ciabatta rolls, 4
  • Basil Pesto, .5 cup
  • Fresh Whole Milk Mozzarella, 8 ounces
  • Roma Tomatoes, 2-4 depending on size (or whatever you can get)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
  • Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 375 Fahrenheit and line an extra large baking sheet with parchment paper;
  2. Thinly slice the tomatoes and the mozzarella;
  3. Divide the rolls in half, lightly brush the insides with olive oil; place on baking sheet with the insides facing up;
  4. Toast on the middle rack of the oven for 5 minutes;
  5. Remove from oven; on the top of each roll, spread 2 Tablespoons of basil pesto; on the bottom half of each roll, place 2 ounces of fresh mozzarella, followed by a single layer of tomato slices; sprinkle tomatoes with a pinch of salt and a little freshly ground pepper;
  6. Return to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes, or until the cheese melts;
  7. Remove from oven, assemble sandwiches and serve.


  1. If you can’t find Ciabatta rolls, any good bread will do, but if you go that route, do the initial toasting of the bread, with olive oil on the top side, then, when you remove from the oven, flip the bread before adding the remaining ingredients.

Allergen Friendly: Creamy Coconut Lentils

Serves: 6-8; Prep Time: 35 minutes; Cook Time; 30 minutes

Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Vegan

This is an old favorite that my roommate Shannon and I used to make at least monthly. Chris, however, isn’t the world’s biggest fan of lentils, so once we got married and moved to Pittsburgh, I had to resort to getting my lentil fix only when we ordered Indian takeout. When I made this yesterday to photograph, I contemplated making Chris something else for dinner…but in the end didn’t have the energy and figured he could just deal for one night. Much to my surprise, though, he enthusiastically ate every bite. Well, almost every bite. Toby was such a fan of this, that after he finished his, he climbed onto Chris’ lap, grabbed his dad’s fork, and proceeded to help himself to Chris’ dinner.

I always serve this with roasted curried cauliflower (page 163 in the “Around the Catholic Table” cookbook).


  • Red lentils, uncooked, 2 cups (so, from a bag, not a can)
  • Coconut oil, .25 cup
  • Yellow onion, 1 large
  • Jalapeno peppers, 2
  • Fresh Garlic, 2 cloves
  • Fresh Ginger, 1.5 Tablespoons
  • Cumin Seeds, 2 teaspoons
  • Ground Turmeric, 1 teaspoon
  • Ground Cayenne Pepper, .5 teaspoon
  • Coconut Milk, 1 can
  • Diced Tomatoes, 1 14.5 ounce can
  • Kosher Salt, 1 Tablespoon
  • Jasmine or Basmati Rice, 2 cups, uncooked
  • Cilantro, .5 bunch
  • Unsweetened Coconut Flakes, .5 cup,
  • Plain Greek Yogurt (optional for kids)

Cooking Instructions

  1. Pick through lentils to make sure there are no stones mixed in; rinse in a colander; and drain
  2. Place lentils in a large pot, cover generously with water, and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes;
  3. While the lentils are cooking, medium dice onions and peppers (removing seeds and ribs, unless you want this to be blazing hot); then peel and mince ginger and garlic.
  4. Set the rice to cooking according to package instructions—in a rice cooker if you’ve got one, on the stove if you don’t.
  5. When the lentils are completely tender and breaking apart, drain them in a colander and allow them to sit while you prepare the sauce.
  6. Heat coconut oil in a large pot or sauté pan; add onions and slowly caramelize over low heat. This should take at least 15 minutes. No rushing.
  7. When the onions are a buttery, golden brown, add ginger, garlic, and jalapenos. Cook over medium heat, stirring almost constantly, until the mixture becomes fragrant (about 2 minutes);
  8. Add turmeric, cayenne, and cumin seeds; mix in well; cook for a minute more.
  9. Stir in the coconut milk, tomatoes, and salt. Bring to a simmer. Add lentils to the sauce and cook for 5-10 minutes or until everything is heated through.
  10. Remove from heat, stir most of the cilantro into the sauce, leaving a couple tablespoons for garnish. Plate up, first with the rice, then with the lentils, remaining cilantro, and a Tablespoon of coconut flakes. (If too spicy for kids, stir in a dollop of yogurt or sour cream to theirs).


  1. The only ingredient on this list that might not be at your local grocery store is cumin seeds. These are super important to the flavor, and I would NOT recommend substituting with ground cumin. You can, however, find them at any Indian grocery store or on Amazon.
  2. The spice profile on this is pretty mild, but since I wasn’t sure about how Toby would deal with it, I stirred a little plain yogurt into his. Chris’, however, was yogurt free and Toby didn’t complain at all about it being too spicy when he dug into his dad’s food. Your kids’ milage may vary.

Just a Little Bit Fancy: Seared Scallops and Parmesan Risotto with Brown Butter Sauce

Serves: 4; Prep Time: 5 minutes; Cook Time: 30 Minutes

The original plan for this week was scallops and lemon risotto, but last Friday (when I planned to cook and photograph the recipe), was cold and blustery, and lemon anything didn’t suit the weather. So, I scrapped the lemon and decided to top my basic parmesan risotto with a brown butter sauce. That was one of the better culinary decisions I’ve ever made, because this is probably the best risotto I’ve ever made. Not complicated. But soooooooo good and sooooo rich. If you make this, be warned that your Lenten Friday won’t feel very Lenty.

I served this with roasted Brussels sprouts, which was the perfect savory complement to the richness of the risotto.


  • Arborio Rice, 2 cups
  • Sweet Onion, 1 medium, chopped
  • Fresh Garlic, 2 cloves, minced
  • Parmesan, 1 and 1/3 cup, shredded
  • Salted Butter, 7 Tablespoons
  • White Wine, .5 cup
  • Chicken Broth, 4 Cups
  • Water, 4 cups
  • Sea Scallops, .5 lb.
  • Fresh Greens (Arugula and Kale), finely julienned, 1 cup
  • Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil


  1. Prep all your ingredients: Chop the onion, mince the garlic, shred the cheese, finely julienne the greens. Then, set them aside.
  2. On a paper towel lined plate, lay out the scallops and pat dry; sprinkle with salt;
  3. In a medium-sized stock pot, bring the broth and water to a simmer (not a boil!);
  4. Melt 2 Tablespoons of butter in a large pot or deep sided pan over medium heat. When the butter is melted, add the onions and cook until translucent (about 3-5 minutes).
  5. Add garlic and cook for 30-60 seconds more.
  6. Add rice. Mix in with the onions and garlic and allow the rice to toast for about 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently so that it doesn’t burn.
  7. Increase the heat to medium-high. Add wine. Stir until absorbed.
  8. Begin adding broth slowly, one ladleful at a time. After you’ve added the first ladle of broth, stir the rice until the liquid is absorbed (about 1 minute). Then, add the next ladleful. Repeat until the rice is creamy and soft, but firm to the bite (al dente);
  9. When the risotto is almost done, heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan; when the oil is hot enough that a drop of water sizzles when dropped in the pan, add scallops in a single layer, not touching; cook three minutes without moving; flip and cook another 3 minutes; remove to plate and cover with foil to keep warm;
  10. When the risotto is finished, remove from heat. Add parmesan. Stir vigorously until combined; Add greens and stir gently until combined; Add salt and pepper to taste;
  11. In a small sauce pan, melt remaining butter and continue to cook, stirring almost constantly, until the solids have turned a deep, dark, golden brown and the foam has mostly settled (about 3-5 minutes);
  12. Divide risotto into bowls; evenly divide scallops and place on top of rice; drizzle browned butter evenly over bowls and serve.

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3 thoughts on “Meatless Fridays, Week 2

  1. Christina Costain says:

    Emily you are a DOLL. I adore scallops and may very well need to make them tomorrow. I just showed my 16 yr old the caprese sandwiches and said… SEE?? This is what I offered you LAST FRIDAY for lunch! doesn’t that sound amazing! So adding ciabatta rolls to my list today 😉

    blessings and thank you for posting these!

  2. Nicole Meng says:

    I made the risotto with scallops and even though my scallops were the size of small marshmallows, it tasted amazing- this from someone who doesn’t like seafood! My husband and I agreed it’s the fanciest dish I r made in our 15 months of marriage.

  3. Nicole Meng says:

    I am hosting company next week and I’m planning on making just the risotto as a side to pair with baked salmon. It was delicious last time so I can’t wait to have it again!

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