Kid Friendly + Meatless Meals for May's Minor Rogation Days
May is a particularly joyful month in the liturgical calendar. It's still the Easter season, so alleluias abound. It's also the month dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and punctuated by May Crownings and other Marian festivities. There are also a lot of fun Saints' feast days this month - from St. Joseph the Worker, to Our Lady of Fatima, to Joan of Arc (for easy ways to live liturgically in May, check out my post here). Amidst all the joy, however, there are also opportunities in May to recall our complete and total dependence on God and offer up additional fasting and penance in the form of the Minor Rogation Days (in 2020 falling on May 18, 19, and 20).
Never heard of Rogation Days? You're not alone - very few parishes in the United States still observe them as they've fallen nearly completely by the wayside in the wake of Vatican II. Nevertheless, a growing number of the faithful, yours truly included, are making a bid to bring Rogation Days back.
A Brief History of Rogation Days
So what are Rogation Days? Rogation Days are days optional, additional fasting and penance traditionally observed during the spring planting season. There are four Rogation Days: the Major Rogation on April 25 and three Minor Rogations, which are celebrated on the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday immediately preceding Ascension Thursday. The term "rogation" derives from the Latin word rogatio, a form of the verb rogare, which means "to ask." On the Rogation Days, the faithful fast and ask God to bless their parish and crops. The Major Rogation typically began at the local parish church with the recitation of the Litany of the Saints, followed by a procession around the boundaries of the parish, a blessing of the crops, and concluding with Mass. Since the Rogations usually fall during Eastertide, they are typically observed as days of abstinence from meat rather than full fasting days.
Although the Rogation Days were removed from the liturgical calendar in 1969, there's nothing to stop you from celebrating them on your own! In fact, given the state of the world and the myriad of crises facing our Church, the freely offered gift by the faithful of additional, optional penance on behalf of the Universal Church would be a beautiful gift, indeed. For the last two years, my family has observed the Rogation Days by processing around the boundaries of our own Domestic Church "parish" (also known as the back yard) while reciting the Litany of the Saints and blessing our plants with Holy Water. We also abstain from meat on these days. It's fun, relatively easy, and full of graces!
Meal Planning for Rogation Days
The hardest part of Rogation Days is finding meatless meals that both my husband and children will enjoy. Luckily, I've developed few go-to's that are sure-fire crowd-pleasers in my house and provided the recipes for each below. My husband says he doesn't even miss the meat in these, and even my children love them:
Black Bean Quesadillas
Curried Vegetable Pot Pie
Spinach and Cheese Manicotti with Homemade Tomato Sauce
Bonus Recipe: Spaghetti Squash and Black Bean Enchiladas
Black Bean Quesadillas
I love this recipe because you can throw it in the crock-pot in the morning and voila, dinner is ready that evening! I like to serve it with grilled Mexican Street Corn (drizzle corn on the cob with honey mixed with melted butter, and throw on a little chili powder and cayenne, then grill and top with cilantro and crumbled cotija cheese - so good!) or tortilla chips with salsa and guacamole.
3 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 15 oz can diced tomatoes, drained and rinsed (or use fresh!)
1 small onion, diced
2 tsp garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, minced (remove seeds if you want it milder)
2 tsp cumin
1 bay leaf
Salt to taste
1 tbsp olive oil
Shredded cheese of choice (we like cotija)
8 flour tortillas
Throw the black beans, tomatoes, onion, garlic, cumin, bay leaf, salt, and olive oil in the crock pot and cook on high for 5 hours.
When done, mash with a potato masher.
Spray a skillet with nonstick cooking spray and heat on medium high.
Assemble the tortillas with cheese and a spoonful of the black bean mixture.
Cook the quesadillas in the skillet until browned on both sides, and serve with sour cream, guacamole, cilantro, or any other toppings you like!
Curried Vegetable Pot Pie
I found this recipe at the blog She Likes Food, and it was an instant favorite in our house. I know the word "curried" will throw some people, but trust me, this is so good - especially if you make it with the homemade coconut oil pie crust. This recipe is also vegan, and the curry flavoring is really not overpowering at all. Original recipe and pictures from Izzy are posted here.
2 cups diced potatoes
1 1/2 cups diced carrots
1 1/2 cups cauliflower florets
1 1/2 cups broccoli florets
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup vegan butter, or coconut oil
1/2 cup flour, gluten free or regular
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup unsweetened almond milk, or milk of your choice
1 1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
2 large unbaked pie crusts, I highly recommend this recipe for coconut oil pie crust
Fresh parsley for garnish, if desired
Heat oven to 425 degrees F.
Add the potatoes, carrots and cauliflower to a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and boil for 15 minutes. Next, add the broccoli and peas and cook for another 10 minutes. Vegetables should be fork tender.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the butter and onions. Cook onions for 2-3 minutes, until softened, and then add the flour. Stir mixture together until it resembles a thick paste.
Next, add in the vegetable broth, milk, curry powder, salt, pepper and celery seed. Cook mixture, stirring often, until thickened and coats the back of a spoon, 10-15 minutes.
Add vegetables to sauce and mix until combined.
Place one pie crust in the bottom of a large baking dish and then pour vegetable mixture in. Top with second pie crust. Press the edges of the pie crusts together and cut any excess off. Poke a few air holes in the top of the pie crust and bake pot pie until pie crust is cooked through, 30-40 minutes.
Let cool and enjoy! Top with fresh parsley, if desired.
Spinach and Cheese Manicotti
This manicotti recipe from All Recipes is super easy because you don't have to cook the shells in advance, so they're easier to stuff. You can also prepare it a day before (just refrigerate after assembling and then let it sit on the counter 30 minutes before cooking). I like to serve it with a simple side salad and garlic bread. Original recipe post is here.
1 15-ounce container ricotta cheese
1 10-ounce package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed out
1/2 cup minced onion
2 tsp fresh minced parsley
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
2 26-ounce jars spaghetti sauce (I like to make my own - recipe below)
1 1/2 cups water (I omit this)
1 8 oz package manicotti shells
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
In a large bowl, combine ricotta, spinach, onion and egg. Season with parsley, pepper and garlic powder. Mix in 1 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup Parmesan. In a separate bowl, stir together spaghetti sauce and water (I omit this last step).
Spread 1 cup sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Stuff uncooked manicotti shells with ricotta mixture, and arrange in a single layer in the dish. Cover with remaining sauce. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.
Bake in preheated oven for 45 to 55 minutes, or until noodles are soft.
Homemade Tomato Sauce
This homemade tomato sauce beats any store bought sauce and really puts the manicotti over the top. The amounts for this aren't exact because I just do it all to taste, but I'll do my best to reproduce it below:
2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Garlic, minced, to taste
2 tbsp honey
Fresh basil, to taste
Fresh oregano, to taste
Fennel seeds, 2 tsp
Crushed red pepper, to taste
1/4 cup red wine
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
8 oz sliced baby bella mushrooms (optional)
Melt the butter and olive oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat and add the tomatoes.
Cook the tomatoes until nearly bursting, then add the mushrooms, garlic, salt, pepper, honey, fennel seeds, red pepper and cook for a couple of minutes until mushrooms are softened.
Add the wine to de-glaze the pan. Then let it cook down until it's nice and thick - maybe 10-15 minutes.
Add the fresh basil and oregano, then use an immersion blender to blend smooth.
BONUS RECIPE: Spaghetti Squash and Black Bean Enchiladas
There are only three minor Rogation Days this month, but I've included a bonus kid-friendly, meatless meal for Friday! "But I thought Catholics were only supposed to abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent!" you say. Well, it's a bit complicated. From the Catholic Exchange:
Canon 1250 states that the days and times of penance for the whole Church are the Fridays of the entire year, and the season of Lent. And canon 1251 gives further details on just how Catholics are to make these days penitential: Unless a solemnity falls on a Friday, abstinence from meat, or some other food as determined by the Bishops’ Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays; while Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of both abstinence and fasting.
(Emphasis added). Essentially, Catholics in the United States are required to undertake some form of penance every Friday and are strongly encouraged by the United States Conference of Bishops to undertake such penance in the form of abstinence from meat. I won't go into all the details here, but this article from the Catholic Exchange gives more background information. I did not learn about this until about a year ago, but since my family started abstaining from meat on Fridays year-round, we have found it to be a true blessing. And again, during times such as these, it's a beautiful and fairly easy gift to offer up for the good of our universal Church.
I found this recipe from She Likes Food, also! (In fact, if you think meatless Fridays are something your family would like to take up, I highly recommend signing up for Izzy's free weekly vegetarian/vegan meal plans - we have really enjoyed all of her recipes). The original recipe and pictures from Izzy are posted here.
1 medium sized spaghetti squash
1 (15 ounce) can black refried beans, I like to use fat free
1 small green pepper, diced
1/4 cup diced red onion
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, optional
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups enchilada sauce, your favorite kind
12 corn tortillas
For the Cilantro Yogurt Sauce:
1 cup Greek non-fat plain yogurt
1 handful fresh cilantro leaves
Juice of 1 lime
1 small clove garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of salt
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. Carefully cut the spaghetti squash in half, lengthwise, and use a spoon so scoop out the seeds. Brush each side lightly with olive oil or spray with cooking spray. Season with salt and pepper, place each half cut side down on a large baking sheet and bake until tender, about 40 minutes.
Let spaghetti squash cool and then use a fork to remove all the spaghetti squash “noodles”. If they come out in long noodles you will want to give them a little chop.
In a large bowl, mix together the spaghetti squash, refried beans, green pepper, onion, and all the seasonings.
Pour 1 cup of the enchilada sauce into a large baking dish and spread out. If your corn tortillas are’t super soft you will need to heat them slightly in the microwave or on the stovetop to make sure they don’t break when you try to roll them.
Scoop 1/4 cup of the filling mixture onto each tortilla, use your hands to make sure it’s in the middle, and then roll tortilla up and place seam side down in the pan. Repeat until all the filling is used, you should get about 12 enchiladas.
Pour remaining 1 cup of enchilada sauce over the top and spread out. Feel free to add grated cheese on top if you like! Bake enchiladas in the 400 degree F oven until filling is heated through and sauce is bubbling, about 20 minutes.
Make sauce while enchiladas are baking. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until combined. You might want to add a tablespoon or two of water if you don’t want it as thick.
Garnish with your favorite garnishes and top with Cilantro Yogurt Sauce after serving.