I didn’t know much about Lent until college. Ash Wednesday came as a surprise. Kids walked around campus with ash crosses on their foreheads and the cafeteria wouldn’t serve meat. This wasn’t a, “you have choice” moment. It was cut and dried. If you were eating in the cafeteria, i.e. using your meal plan, you were a vegetarian that first Wednesday and every Friday until Easter.
I like a lot of meatless dishes. But when I’m told I can’t have something, I want it. Just try giving up chocolate. Can’t you picture yourself at the end of the day, sitting in your car mowing through an entire box of Samoa Girl Scout Cookies? You’d eat them so quickly you’d hardly taste the chocolate, coconut, and gooey caramel. What a waste of good cookies.
However, imagine instead you were given a single slice of cheesecake. You’d eat it slowly, tasting the graham cracker crust and hint of lemon in the filling. Suddenly “giving something up,” wouldn’t be so bad. (Though, it does defeat the purpose of Lent and depriving yourself. We’ll just keep that between you and me.)
Jujus’ Vegetarian Ciabatta Pizza is the Lenten cheesecake. The meatless alternative you’re delighted to enjoy. Not to mention it’s incredibly inexpensive. This is a “last of this – last of that” dish, which allows you to clean out your fridge before things go bad. Lent never tasted so good or cost so little.
Jujus’ Vegetarian Ciabatta Pizza
You can use any slightly stale, thickly sliced bread you have on hand. Jujus and I happen to LOVE Ciabatta, so it’s normally what we have.
½ a slightly stale Ciabatta, sliced in half hamburger style, creating two flat halves
½ cup Arrabiata sauce
1 tsp dried basil
½ cup veggies of your choice
(examples: sautéed red onion and garlic, chopped kalamata olives, spinach, broccoli florets, left-over fried potatoes, and/or sliced tomato)
¼ cup shredded cheese (mozzarella is good, but any melting cheese will do)
Preheat the oven to broiler. Spread Arrabiate sauce over the Ciabatta halves.
Note: The sauce will soak into the porous bread, which is why using stale bread is best. It will be softened by the sauce, but still hold its shape and structure.
Spread veggies evenly over both halves. Sprinkle each slice of Ciabatta with half the cheese. Put Ciabatta halves on a baking sheet and put them under the broiler until the cheese begins to melt and bubble, about 5 minutes.