Meat-Free Fridays: Lean Lenten Fish Recipes

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Each Friday during Lent, the dailySpark will feature a different non-meat main dish. You'll find plenty of dishes to swap for your meaty favorites, all with far less fat, fewer calories and more nutrients than a fried fish sandwich, a ubiquitous choice during Lent.

Today marks the first Friday of Lent, meaning many Christians are abstaining from eating meat. Through the years, meat-free Fridays have become associated with fish fries and batter-dipped sandwiches at fast-food restaurants. Often battered, fried, and dunked in mayo-based sauces, fish is a versatile and healthy main dish!

Abstaining from meat for several meals a week, usually for health, environmental or personal reasons, is a growing trend. "Flexitarianism," as it's called, is a healthy way to eat, according to experts.

If you observe meat-free Fridays during Lent, use this as a time to experiment a bit with your menus. Instead of reaching for the same-old fried fish, choose another lean protein from under the sea.

Most fish is naturally quite low in fat, and many varieties (especially those that live in dark, cold waters) are high in Omega-3 fatty acids, a type of fat that can help improve heart health, lower cholesterol, insulate nerve cells in the brain and improve bowel health.

Though deep-fried white-fleshed fish (such as cod, halibut or pollock) is the fish most people order in restaurants, fish is a versatile protein.

Broiling fish is easy, and it doesn't add much fat if any.
  1. Preheat the broiler on your oven.
  2. Spray a baking sheet or broiling pan with nonstick spray and move your oven rack to the top shelf.
  3. Rinse and pat dry your fish fillets. Place fish on the baking sheet skin side down.
  4. Sprinkle with your choice of seasonings (try one of our salt-free spice blends) or simply shake on some black pepper, garlic powder (not garlic salt) and a squeeze of lemon juice.
  5. Broil 8-10 minutes, or until fish flakes easily. (If fillets are thicker than 1", add two minutes; if they're thinner than 1/2", reduce cooking time by about two minutes.)
  6. Squeeze on more lemon juice before serving, if desired.

Try cooking fish in parchment packets for an easy one-dish meal!
  1. Place clean, dry fish fillets on one side of a sheet of parchment. The parchment (or foil can also be used) should be able to fold over the fish with a few inches to expand.
  2. Drizzle on a tablespoon of citrus juice (try orange, lime or even grapefruit), vinegar (tarragon, raspberry or balsamic work well) or white wine.
  3. Cover each piece of fish with about a 1/2 cup of thinly sliced or a chopped vegetables. (I like peppers, onions or shallots, broccoli or cauliflower, asparagus and spinach.) Remember to keep the vegetables small and uniform so they'll cook evenly.
  4. Sprinkle on herbs and carefully close the packets.
  5. Starting at one end, tightly roll the parchment paper up. At the final corner, be sure to give it a good pinch--and be sure the "roll" is up so the juices will not leak. The pouches will inflate in the oven, so just a couple of small, tight rolls on each side will suffice.
  6. Place the pouches on a baking sheet and slide them into a preheated 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes for thin fillets, 20 minutes for thicker cuts (more then 3/4"). (This cooking method works well with shrimp and chicken, too.)

Here are a few "fish in a pouch" recipes to get you started!

Find more fish recipes at!

Three of my favorite special-occasion fish recipes are Maple-Glazed Salmon, Baked Haddock, and Pistachio-Crusted Salmon.

Do you abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent? What do you typically eat on those days? What will you choose to eat now? Do you have a favorite fish recipe?