Making and sharing a meal for 36 — with recipes

Thai rice noodle salad

Thai Green beans with basil and rice noodle salad with fresh garden vegetables

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.

[Note: With this basic recipe, you can substitute and vary the quantities of the vegetables.]

Serves 4

1/4-1/2 lb rice noodles

cucumbers or zucchini - cut into strips or shredded
tomatoes – chopped
(optional) jalapeño – finely sliced, or a pinch of red pepper flakes
1/4 of a red pepper, in matchsticks or finely sliced
1/2c carrot, shredded
(optional) 2T cilantro, minced

Vinaigrette
1/4c lime juice
1/4c rice vinegar
1T sesame oil
1T fish sauce or substitute soy sauce
1t minced garlic
(1t+ red pepper flakes – omit if salad has heat already)

STEPS
1. Add rice noodles to boiling water for 3 minutes until softened but still firm (or follow box directions); drain and rinse under cold water then set aside.
2. Whisk together vinaigrette ingredients.
3. Transfer noodles to bowl; add all the veggies; top with dressing and toss.

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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Thai green beans with basil

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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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