“A Good Dish for the Meatless Meal” Recipe

A Good Dish for a Meatless Meal

Sometimes the names of dishes in old cookbooks make me smile. The recipe I made for today is called “A Good Dish for the Meatless Meal.” It was one of several recipes in a section on Lenten recipes in an old newspaper recipe supplement.

The recipe made a delightful rice, tomato, and onion casserole topped with creamy melted cheese, and garnished with parsley and paprika. The recipe author was right. It was a good dish. The recipe is a keeper.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Recipe for "A Good Dish for a Meatless Meal"
Source: Source: Mrs. Scott’s Seasonal Cook Books (The North American Newspaper, Philadelphia, Winter, 1921)

I assume that “drippings” refer to the fat created when cooking beef or pork – though I am a bit foggy why meat drippings would be called for in a recipe for a meatless dish. Maybe a hundred years ago “meatless” just meant that there were no chunks of meat. In any case I substituted olive oil for the drippings, but any oil or fat could be used.

A Good Dish for a Meatless Meal

  • Servings: 3 - 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 cup rice

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup onion, finely chopped

2 cups stewed tomatoes (1 14.5 ounce can)

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup grated American cheese

parsley, chopped


Preheat oven to 375° F. Cook the rice according to package directions.

In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a skillet and then add the chopped onion. Using medium heat, sauté until the onion is transparent. Stir in the tomatoes and salt, then add the rice. Cook until hot and bubbly then transfer to a casserole dish. Top with the grated cheese. Place in oven and heat until the cheese is melted. Remove from oven and sprinkle with the chopped parsley and paprika.


35 thoughts on ““A Good Dish for the Meatless Meal” Recipe

  1. My husband’s family makes something like this but adds mixed vegetables in addition to the tomatoes… A very good meal especially when you have to feed a family with 6 kids on the cheap!

  2. Another great old recipe, Sheryl. These days vegetarians would be livid over something like this, because, as you pointed out, the drippings are no doubt made from meat and not meatless at all. What I love is that this recipe demonstrates how we have evolved into that, and back then it wasn’t such an issue. I also liked the author’s note about not wasting the scallions green tops. Very interesting, as always, Sheryl.

    1. I find food history fascinating. I enjoy seeing how definitions have evolved, how some foods have become more popular, while others have declined in popularity, etc.

  3. That looks very familiar though I can’t specifically remember eating it. I realize that my grandmother was cooking for my mom in those days and she must have cooked similar dishes.

    1. Similarly to you, when I tasted this dish it brought back vague memories of a food from my childhood – though I couldn’t specifically place the old dish.

  4. This dish immediately had me curious: when did “American cheese” become a mainstay? (late 19-teens, apparently). I was such a picky eater growing up, that at first I thought oh, I’d have loved this! (My mom’s similar Spanish rice was a favorite. No cheese, but green peppers mixed in). Strangely, I was eating meat then, but not onions. I’d be picking them out. Now I’d make this but add other veggies and skip the cheese. Interesting how dietary habits change over a lifetime, but all roads lead back to childhood food memories 🙂

    1. It is fascinating how food preferences change over a lifetime. I don’t crave sweets like I did when I was younger, and I now enjoy vegetables much more now than I did when I was a child. Your comment made me google American Cheese. According to Wikipedia, it’s been around since the 1910’s.

  5. This does sound good and a dish I would make. I think that since this recipe was to be cooked during the lenten season, when they referred to the dish as being meatless they were not referring to it as being something to server a vegetarian. Instead, I think that it was a dish for someone who was going to give up eating meat (beef/steak) during lent. I’m sure they would have no problem using butter, milk, etc. either.

    1. Yes, I think you are right. They were using the word “meatless” in a way that was quite different from the meaning “vegetarian.”

  6. Easy and a nice comfort dish, too. It would be easy to substitute in ground beef if a meat version was desired. Definitely a keeper, thank you!

  7. “I assume that “drippings” refer to the fat created when cooking beef or pork – though I am a bit foggy why meat drippings would be called for in a recipe for a meatless dish. Maybe a hundred years ago “meatless” just meant that there were no chunks of meat.”

    It wasn’t because of that so much so as that vegetarianism was relatively rare a century ago and it remains distinctly different from “meatless” in the Roman Catholic sense. In the latter, for example, fish and seafood is not included as “meat” either, where as quite a few vegetarians would regard it as meat, although some do eat fish.

    A person would have to delve into the topic, but generally you’ll find that broths are “technically” not classified as meat for Roman Catholics, and some animal derived foods, such as gelatins, are not. Probably the author of this recipe didn’t regard drippings as in the meat category and at the time perhaps they weren’t either, form this prospective. In more recent years, as the number of Catholic meatless days had declined in some regions and is limited to Lent, in those regions, people have tended to define meatless more strictly and expanding on the meatless category has been discouraged.

    Of note, people often associate this with “Catholics”, by which they usually mean Roman Catholics, but the Orthodox and the Eastern Catholics also observe days of fast and abstinence and their practice is much more broad. It progresses in time over Great Lent and ultimately they abstain from not only meat, but dairy products, fats, and alcohol as well.

    As an side, during World War One the U.S. government declared there to be an entire series of “meatless” days and while it didn’t enforce it through a law, it pretty heavily pressured Americans to observe them. If I recall correctly one such day was basically beefless and an other was porkless. None of these days was on a Friday, so I’ve always thought that if you were a Catholic that must have been a bummer as you would end up with three meatless weekdays during Lent rater than one.

    1. It’s fascinating to learn more about what is considered “meat” in the Roman Catholic sense. It’s also interesting how people were encouraged to have meatless days during WWII. I know that there were ration books during that war, but hadn’t thought much about which foods (in addition to sugar) were in short supply.

      1. I probably wasn’t too clear in regard to rationing. In World War One there wasn’t any in the US (although at least one state did it independently). It was all voluntarily, but the social pressure was enormous, so generally people complied.

        In World War Two, on the other hand, there was compulsory rationing in the U.S. Interestingly, while not really remembered, as people don’t want to, cheating on rationing was extremely widescale.

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