It’s about a week into Lent — are you tired of fish yet? C’mon, it’s the Mississippi Gulf Coast. We’re all about the seafood here: shrimp, crabs, fish, oysters. Crawfish might not be seafood, but it is a crustacean.
But maybe seafood just isn’t your thing. Maybe you’re allergic to shellfish.
Fear not. With as well-rounded a restaurant scene as we have down here, you’re likely to find something that covers your Lenten needs.
Indian cuisine: Some restaurants, such as Orchid Indian Cuisine and Good Karma Café in Gulfport, are vegetarian friendly while offering meatless dishes that can satisfy hearty appetites. Orchid’s menu, for example, has a large vegetarian section with dishes such as Vegetable Tikka Masala, Rajma Masala (kidney beans cooked with spices in a thick tomato curry) and Kadai Aloo Palak (simmered potatoes in smooth green spinach gravy with spices).
Pizza: Pizza doesn’t have to be loaded down with sausage, pepperoni, hamburger or ham. A thin-crust veggie pizza can be one of the most satisfying pies on earth. Or try out one of the local or regional pizza restaurants’ specialties. Leo’s Wood Fire Pizza in Ocean Springs, for example, offers the John Lennon (mushrooms, onion, red and green bell peppers, artichokes, tomatoes and black olives) and, if you’re a fan of the mudbug, the BB King (cream cheese, red peppers, crawfish, cajun spice and mozzarella). Sal & Mookie’s in Biloxi lists the South Street Seaport (béchamel, Provolone, mozzarella, crabmeat, shrimp and crawfish tails) and crustacean-free pizzas such as Empire State (plum tomato sauce, mozzarella, basil pesto, caramelized onions and sun-dried tomatoes).
Pasta: Just like pizza, there are plenty of pasta options that keep the meat out. At C&C Italian Bistro in Bay St. Louis, Lenten customers can enjoy Ravioli de Melanzana (smoked eggplant, baby zucchini, squash, torn basil and tomato fondue) or Rigatoni with wild mushroom sugo and rosemary. Salute Italian Restaurant in Gulfport calls their Tuscan Fusion entree (eggplant Parmigiana, manicotti and panneed cheese ravioli) “a vegetarian’s delight.”
Veggie sandwiches: Don’t make a face. Have you tried the Caprese Panini at Southern Grounds Coffeehouse in Gulfport? Fresh mozzarella, Roma tomatoes and basil pesto sauce are pressed into hoagie bread.
Check the specials: Your favorite restaurant might offer Lenten specials during the season. Ask your server, or ask for meat-free suggestions.