Making and sharing a meal for 36 — with recipes

Thai green beans with basil

Ready to serve 36

Once every month or two, I get to cook dinner for 30+ people at St. Lydia’s. As I’ve mentioned before, my church structures its service around a meal. To be the cook is fun, but it’s also intimidating — kind of controlled chaos as I coordinate all the prep and cooking with helpers, working against a one-hour countdown clock. It’s like being part of a cooking reality show.

It was my turn last week. I knew there would be a lot of basil coming from our church’s plot at the local community garden, so I decided to make a Thai dish. Of course, the classic Thai basil dishes are meat-based and we make all our meals vegetarian, so those were out. I landed on the idea of making green beans, some of which could also come from our garden.

[This is a veggie version. For a more traditional version, use 1/2lb of ground pork instead of tofu and fish sauce instead of the final soy sauce addition. Also jalapeño can be replaced with any other hot pepper, including traditional Thai varieties.]

Serves 4
1/2 package firm tofu
1T soy sauce
1/2T toasted sesame oil

2 cloves garlic
1/2 lb green beans
1 onion
1 sweet pepper
1/2 of a jalapeño pepper
1c basil leaves
2T soy sauce, fish sauce or oyster sauce
cooking oil

PREP
1. Crumble firm tofu and drizzle with soy sauce and sesame oil. Stir fry tofu in 2T oil until browned. Drain and set aside.
2. Thinly slice onions and peppers.
3. Cut green beans into 2-inch pieces
4. Crush garlic.
5. Mince jalapeño.
6. Remove the leaves from basil. If large, you can tear leaves into pieces.

COOKING
1. Heat 2T oil and add onions til soft.
2. Add peppers and cook til onions start to brown.
3. Add green beans, chilis, garlic and tofu.
4. Saute until green beans are tender.
5. Add basil and oyster sauce or soy sauce and stir fry 2 more minutes until basil has wilted.

The recipe is mine. I’m sure it’s based on something originally but over time I’ve modified it to suit my taste and cooking style (as you should too).

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About Phil Fox Rose

Phil Fox Rose is a writer, editor and content lead based in New York. He is coordinator of Contemplative Outreach of New York, helping promote centering prayer, which has been his contemplative practice for nearly 20 years. Raised atheist by ex-Mormons, Phil has journeyed through Quakerism, deep ecology, Buddhism and Catholicism. Now he's a congregant, worship leader, cook and chair of the leadership team at St. Lydia's, an awesome dinner church in Brooklyn, NY, and spends as much time in nature as possible. Phil has been a political party leader, videographer, tech journalist, punk roadie, software designer, sheepherder, stockbroker and downtempo radio DJ. A common thread is the process of learning about stuff, figuring it out and then sharing that understanding with others. Follow Phil by RSS feed, email, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

  • ToronadoBlue

    Making a meal for 36? Wow… you’re braver than I am, especially making a Thai dish which I love. Kudos on using ‘fresh from the garden’ veggies. If people only knew how much better veggies were from a garden instead of a can.

    • Phil Fox Rose

      Ha, thanks. Yeah, the closer to just picked you are with vegetables, the better — the better for taste, the better for nutritional value, and the better for supporting local farmers. I grew up with Midwestern cooking, which meant vegetables either came canned, or were boiled to death. I’m grateful that times have changed, and especially that I’m in a place where there are lots of farmer’s markets and healthy produce stores.

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