Monday, April 13, 2015

Garden Party Teacher's Luncheon Recipes

Happy Spring!  I am organizing a teacher appreciation luncheon at my kids' school and the theme is "A Garden Party!".  It is completely run by parents and the food is all donated by parent volunteers.  (Thank you parents!)  

We invite about 150 faculty to have lunch in a small theater which has been decorated for the occasion.  The teachers always love it as they have a chance to eat without distraction and to know they are appreciated.

I came up with a simple menu and one which I think will satisfy the teachers' appetites, will be easy to serve without a kitchen, and will have choices for those who are gluten-free, dairy free or vegetarian.  I am posting a few recipes here so that the generous parents who choose to cook these items from scratch will have a place online to find the recipes.  Scroll down below the menu to see the recipes.  Parents, if something is not clear in the recipe, please email me at

Wish us luck!
Garden Party Menu

Creamy Tomato Soup (recipe below)

Chicken Salad on Croissants (recipe below)
Italian Sandwiches

Tomato Feta Pasta Salad (recipe below)
Fresh Garden Salad
Quinoa and Black Bean Salad with lime dressing (recipe below)
Fruit Salad Cups
Assorted Rolls

Iced Teas, Pellegrino, Water

Plenty of Assorted Homemade Desserts

Creamy Tomato Soup

6 tablespoons olive oil
8 large carrots, peeled and diced
2 large onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 heaping tablespoon dried basil, crushed
1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano, crushed
6 28-ounce cans whole peeled Roma tomatoes
2 quarts chicken broth
2 cups heavy cream
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon coarse salt or sea salt
2 teaspoons black pepper

In a large, heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add carrots and onion and lightly salt and pepper the vegetables. Cook until vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes, then add garlic, basil, and oregano and cook about a minute more.

Add tomatoes, broth, cayenne, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer 45 minutes.

After allowing soup to cool somewhat, purée in batches in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Please blend carefully - Do not fill the blender more that half full and make sure that the steam has a way of escaping.
Stir in cream and heat over low heat until the soup is just heated through. Adjust seasonings if necessary.

Chicken Salad – to be placed on croissants on site

8 cups diced chicken - see note below
2 stalks celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
6 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
2 cups Hellman’s mayonnaise
2 tablespoons strained freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a mixing bowl, toss together the chicken, celery, scallions and parsley. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper to taste. Add to the chicken and mix gently until combined. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

NOTE:  The chicken can come from 8 roasted bone-in and skin-on chicken breasts (see below) or from the white and dark meat from 2 large or 3 small purchased rotisserie chickens.  

To roast the chicken breasts, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Place the chicken breasts, skin side up, on a sheet pan and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through, about 175 degrees internal temperature. Set aside to cool.

When the chicken is cool, remove and discard the skin and bones and cut the chicken into 3/4-inch dice.

Tomato Feta Pasta Salad
From Ina Garten

1 pound fusilli (spirals) pasta
Kosher salt
Good olive oil
2 pounds ripe tomatoes, medium-diced
1 1/2 cups good kalamata olives, pitted and diced
1 pound good feta cheese, medium-diced
12 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped

For the dressing:
10 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
12 tablespoons good olive oil
2 garlic cloves, diced
2 teaspoon capers, drained
2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan
1 ½ cups packed flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water with a splash of oil to keep it from sticking together. Boil for 12 minutes, or according to the directions on the package. Drain well and allow to cool. Place the pasta in a bowl and add the tomatoes, olives, feta and chopped sun-dried tomatoes.

For the dressing, combine the sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, capers, salt and pepper in a food processor until almost smooth.

Pour the dressing over the pasta, sprinkle with the Parmesan and parsley, and toss well.

Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

4 cups cooked and cooled quinoa (from 2 cups uncooked), cook according to package directions
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp ground cumin
4 tablespoons lime or lemon juice
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 red bell peppers, chopped
8 green onions, white and light green part only, thinly sliced
large handful chopped fresh cilantro

In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, cumin, lime juice, salt, and pepper.  Add the cooked quinoa, beans, peppers, and green onions and fold together gently.  Add the cilantro and gently toss.  Taste for seasoning.

1 comment:

  1. After going through your post I served Tomato Feta Pasta Salad at my party at event space Chicago. Everyone loved it. It was amazing and my friend at party appreciated me for my effort.



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