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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