I know I have featured quite a few meatless entrees in recent posts. Lent always gets me thinking about meatless dinners.
If you are not Catholic (or even if you are), you may not be aware of the true purpose behind abstaining from eating meat on Fridays during Lent. One misunderstanding is that it is supposed to be a sacrificial practice, and therefore people wonder how it makes sense to be able to eat lobster or other delicious seafood on Fridays in Lent instead of beef or chicken.
I found this brief but excellent explanation on Catholic.org:
“The law of abstinence requires a Catholic 14 years of age until death to abstain from eating meat on Fridays in honor of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday. Meat is considered to be the flesh and organs of mammals and fowl. Also forbidden are soups or gravies made from them. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles and shellfish are permitted, as are animal derived products such as margarine and gelatin which do not have any meat taste.”
So meatless Fridays can be thought of as an observation and remembrance practice. (And in fact, meatless Fridays technically should be continued throughout the year, not just during Lent. However, outside of the Lenten season, it is permissible to substitute a penitential or charitable practice on Fridays instead of abstaining from meat.)
So, moving on from understanding the religious basis for meatless Fridays, we can go ahead and plan to serve up some squid to the family! You may be thinking to yourself that squid is not really a family-friendly food. I thought that in the past as well! Prior to this recipe, I have not really been able to get my kids to eat squid. Depending on how it is cooked, it can have a texture that some kids will not like. But, when you bake up these calamari rings, your kids will eat them up and then ask for more!
Maybe because they look a little like onion rings, my kids did not hesitate to try them (the first hurdle in introducing a new food!). They are crispy and crunchy and have just the right amount of spice to make them flavorful but not overpowering. Squid offers a lot of nutritional value, and is one of the safest types of seafood in terms of mercury content. Squid provides essential nutrients like phosphorous (which aids in calcium absorption), zinc, copper, selenium (an antioxidant), calcium, niacin (important for metabolism), vitamin B12 (important for red blood cell production and supporting the nervous system), and vitamin C. Plus it is low in calories and high in protein!
This recipe is great because it combines finger-food fun and crunchiness without adding a ton of fat and calories like frying. And it can be used as an entree or as an appetizer. One thing to mention is that, while this is an EASY recipe, it is not all that QUICK just because of the individual handling to get each ring coated. But, in my opinion, it is totally worth it, especially for a weekend dinner or any evening where you have a little extra time to prepare!
Adapted from a recipe at Meals from the Kitchen.
- 1 and ½ lbs squid rings (thawed from frozen is fine)
- 1 cup flour
- ¾ tsp salt
- ¾ tsp pepper
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 and ½ tsp Old Bay spice
- Cooking spray
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
- Combine flour, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.
- In a separate bowl, beat eggs thoroughly.
- In a third bowl, combine bread crumbs, cornmeal, and Old Bay spice.
- First coat each squid ring with the flour mixture, then dip in the eggs, then coat with the crumb/cornmeal mixture.
- Place rings on the baking sheet.
- Mist the rings with cooking spray, then bake for 10 minutes.
- Turn over the rings, then bake for another 5-10 minutes. You don’t want to overbake them, so begin to taste test them after 5 minutes and remove when ready but before they become tough.
Do your kids eat seafood? Do you think they would try this? Leave a comment and let me know what you think!
Enjoy and have a great weekend!