Feeding a Crowd

We are beach bound soon and lucky enough to be spending vacation with extended family, so I’ve been thinking of what meals to feed a large group.  veggie_prepSince we won’t have a Vegetable Preparing Room as on the WWII USS North Carolina or industrial sized vats to cook in, all we need is some advanced planning.

Similar to our strategy with the Three Bean Salad, plan your meals with different continents in mind.  One theme we will likely have is Mediterranean night with rice and lentils, falafel (from a box mix and baked instead of fried), za’atar bread using prepared za’atar spice mix and olive oil on prepared whole wheat pizza dough, tzatziki sauce (non-dairy yogurt, cucumber, lemon juice, minced garlic, and salt) and cucumber tomato salad (red wine or cider vinegar with a little sugar, salt, and pepper).

I’m also going to try a Shortcut Gazpacho by doctoring up freshly prepared salsa and tomato juice.  For lunches, we’ll have Black Bean Mango Salsa, whole wheat pasta salad with lots of finely diced raw veggies, and “healthy” grilled Elvis sandwiches with peanut butter, bananas, and honey or agave nectar, in addition to the typical PB&Js and tomato sandwiches.  For me, vatvacation is all about having fun and eating well without spending a ton of time in the kitchen.

These are some of the tried-and-true recipes that we now can count on to feed the whole crowd in a healthy way.

 

Rice Bowls

In Asia, rice has been the basis of breakfast, lunch, and dinner for over 10,000 years.McDougall   Provide lots of warm brown rice and some of the suggested toppings below for a make it yourself dinner sure to please a range of picky tastes.  If it’s in your budget, buying freshly prepared salsa will save a lot of chopping time.

Cooked brown rice, about 1 cup per child and 2 cups per adult

Black beans, rinsed and served warm or mixed with salsa (not blended as in Easy Black Bean Dip)

Salsa, salsa verde, or Black Bean Mango Salsa

Avocado, diced, or Easy Guacamole

Organic corn or pico de gallo

Set out your family’s favorite toppings and let everyone build their own rice bowl.  To use up leftovers, use whole wheat tortillas to make burritos or make the Oven Baked Tortilla Chips for loaded nachos.

 

Easy Guacamole

½ avocado per person

¼ c frozen green peas per person

Add to taste:

Salsa or diced tomato, onion, cilantro, garlic, jalapeno (seeded and minced)

Fresh lime juice

Salt

In a blender or food processor, puree the avocados and peas.  Add the remaining ingredients and puree if a creamy texture is desired.  Taste and adjust the ingredients as needed.

No one will be able to taste the peas and the added benefit (other than not being able to taste the peas) is that it reduces the cost of the guacamole by requiring less of the most expensive ingredient.

 

Basic Lasagna

While spaghetti is by far the easiest and cheapest way to feed a large crowd, it doesn’t take a whole lot more work to make lasagna.  The secret to delicious vegan lasagna is the creamy Cashew Ricotta below developed by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Romero of the Veganomican.

Lasagna noodles (1 box per lasagna) or 1 medium sized eggplant, peeled and very thinly sliced

Marinara sauce (2 jars per lasagna)

Cashew Ricotta (2 cups per lasagna)

Optional veggies:  fresh spinach, sliced mushrooms, shredded squash or zucchini, etc.

Optional seasonings: minced garlic, fresh basil, oregano, etc.

Spray the casserole dish with EVOO and spread a thin layer of marinara sauce on the bottom.  Start with the noodles or eggplant slices, then alternate layers of sauce and cashew ricotta, working in the optional ingredients.

Cover and bake at 375° for about 45 minutes.

Without adding a significant amount of work, two lasagnas can be assembled at the same time- one with lots of delicious veggies and a basic one for the not-so-adventurous eaters.  A longer cooking time will be needed.

 

Cashew Ricotta

½ c cashew pieces, soaked in cold water to soften then drained

12 oz shelf stable organic tofu (like Mori Nu)

¼ c fresh lemon juice

1T EVOO

2-4 cloves garlic

1.5 t dried basil

1.5 t salt

If you forget to soak the cashew pieces in cold water before making the ricotta, microwave them in water for 30 seconds and then drain.  Put all ingredients into a blender or food processor and puree.  One batch makes about 2 cups, which is enough for one large lasagna.

 

Apple Pie Oatmeal

½ c dry oatmeal per child and 1 c dry oatmeal per adult

½ apple per person, peeled and diced

Cinnamon and nutmeg to taste

Water (2 c water for each 1 c dry oatmeal)

Combine all ingredients in a covered pot and cook over medium heat until boiling, then reduce to low.  Add more water as necessary and continue cooking until apples are tender.  Serve with a dollop of non-dairy vanilla yogurt or a splash of non-dairy vanilla milk just before serving to help cool.  An alternative is to cook the apples separately in advance and reheat when ready to serve.

This concept also works wonderfully with peaches, blueberries, and strawberries.

 

References

McDougall, John and McDougall, Mary. The Starch Solution: Eat the Foods You Love, Regain Your Health, and Lose the Weight for Good. 2012