Media CenterFive Meatless Recipes for Lent

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Susan Gossling Walters
(443) 955-7103
[email protected]

Anna Ruiz
(410) 925-7238
[email protected]

BALTIMORE, MD, January 27, 2016 – Fasting, or giving up meat on Fridays, is a tradition for many Christians during Lent.  Community fish fries and soup dinners are a common approach to Friday’s meal.  But there is an alternative offered by a Lenten program popular with Catholic families across the United States.  It’s a collection of five delicious, international meatless recipes from five different countries.  Accompanying the recipes is a series of a personal stories from individuals and their families whose lives are improving as they work their way out of poverty. The stories include a short background on the country where the recipes are from.

The recipes and video stories are a favorite feature of CRS Rice Bowl, the largest Lenten program in the United States fighting global hunger. The series promotes the idea of “global solidarity” and is an invitation to get to know people from around the world through their food. Lent begins this year on February 10.

This year’s features are:

  • Week 1 - Meet Maria from the coffee lands of Colombia
    Try the featured recipe from Colombia: Cheese Empanadas with Beans
  • Week 2 – Meet Hongkham from Laos, a mother of four who is keeping her family healthy
    Try the featured recipe from Laos: Kao Phiak Saui Tua Leuang
  • Week 3 – Meet Odette from Rwanda, a mother of a healthy baby daughter
    Try the featured recipe from Rwanda: Kawunga                   
  • Week 4 – Meet Mayra from Honduras who overcame her struggles to excel in the classroom
    Try the featured recipe from Honduras: Bean Soup with Chayote Squash and Rice    
  • Week 5 – Meet Vaviroa from Madagascar, a farmer and mother who replanted her flooded fields and put food back on her family’s table
    Try the featured recipe from Madagascar: Vary amin’anana


2016 Recipes:

Recipe From Colombia
Empanadas de Queso con Frijoles
(Cheese Empanadas with Beans)   

Makes 6‒8 empanadas


2 c flour
2 T vegetable shortening
1 t baking powder
1 c cold water mixed with 1 t salt
12 oz queso fresco or farmer’s cheese, shredded
4 T fair trade olive oil


2 16-oz cans of kidney beans, drained
1 onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 t cumin
Cilantro (for garnish)

Empanadas:  Mix the flour, shortening, baking powder and salted water in a medium-sized bowl. Knead until combined. On a floured surface, form dough into a roll. Cut into 6 to 8 equal pieces. Flatten each piece into a circle about 5 inches in diameter. Place about a tablespoon of cheese on one half of the circle and fold the other half of the dough over the cheese, making sure to seal the cheese inside.

Add oil to a large pan and heat until very hot. Place one empanada in the pan. Once the bottom is browned, turn over to cook the other side. Remove from pan and place on a paper towel to absorb the extra oil. Repeat with the other pieces of dough.

Beans: In a separate pan, sauté the onion and bell pepper with oil. Add the beans and cumin until warm. Garnish with cilantro.

Recipe From Laos
Kao phiak sai tua leuang
(Rice and Lentil Mash)

Serves 4‒6

1½ c rice
1½ c lentils
5 c water
1 bunch spring onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
4 eggs, whisked
Salt and pepper to taste
2 T fair trade olive oil
Parsley (to garnish)

In a large pot, cover lentils and rice in water and soak for 10–15 minutes. Next, bring water to a boil, reduce heat to medium and cook until water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. In a separate pan, sauté garlic and onions in oil until translucent, then add to rice-and-lentil mixture. Season to taste. While stirring, slowly pour whisked eggs into the rice-and-lentil mixture; the egg should spread out in “ribbons.ˮ Add parsley to mixture or as garnish to each plate. Serve hot.

Recipe from Rwanda
(Cornmeal with Beans)

Serves 4‒6

3 ⅓ c cornmeal
4 c water
½ t salt
1 16-oz can of beans
1 onion, diced
1 tomato, chopped

Boil water in a saucepan, and then stir in cornmeal and salt.  Mix for 5‒7 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Add more water as necessary to reach desired consistency. Stir often to prevent burning. 
Beans:  Sauté the onion and tomato, and add the beans to the vegetables, including some of the bean broth.

Recipe from Honduras
Sopa de frijoles con chayote y arroz
(Bean Soup with Chayote Squash and Rice)

Serves 4–6

1 onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 T fair trade olive oil
3 15-oz cans red beans, drained
2 c water
1 vegetable bouillon cube
1 yellow chili, seeded and minced
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes with liquid
Juice of 1 lime
2 chayote squash, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes (may substitute yellow squash or zucchini)
Fresh cilantro
4 c cooked white rice

Sauté onion, bell pepper and garlic in oil until translucent. Add beans, water and bouillon, and heat thoroughly. Add yellow chili, jalapeño, tomatoes, lime juice and chayote, and simmer on low for about an hour. Add cilantro and serve over rice.

Recipe from Madagascar
Vary amin’anana
(Greens with Rice)

Serves 4‒5

2 T fair trade olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 medium tomato, diced
1 clove garlic
1 t fresh ginger, minced
3 c packed collard greens or kale
1 c rice
2 c water
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in medium-sized pot. Add onion, tomato, garlic and ginger, and sauté until just tender. Add collard greens or kale, and stir 1 minute. Add rice, water, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook on medium heat for 25 minutes or until water is absorbed.


CRS Rice Bowl materials are available in print, on the web, and through the mobile app and in English and Spanish. Follow CRS Rice Bowl on Twitter – @CRSRiceBowl and #4Lent4Life – and find CRS Rice Bowl on Facebook.

To learn more about CRS Rice Bowl, visit

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Spice up your Lent with these five meatless recipes.More