Cooking for 20
November 10, 2011 10:25 AM   Subscribe

I need suggestions and recipes for cooking for 20 people. Challenge: the food has to be microwavable.

At my work we take turns cooking lunch for each other once a week, and I'm up next week. I need recipes for a tasty, simple meal for 20 people that can be reheated in microwaves. (No major dietary restrictions.) Ideally I could cook on Sunday; lunch is on Tuesday. I'd like to keep it simple and have a main dish plus maybe a side salad.
posted by kirkaracha to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
posted by TrinsicWS at 10:27 AM on November 10, 2011

Spanakopita! Oh man that stuff is even better the next few days than fresh out of the oven. And feel free to use puff pastry sheets instead of phyllo; my girlfriend and I have made it a few times and trying to use actual phyllo dough was a bigger pain in the ass than it was worth.
posted by griphus at 10:29 AM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Some sort of soup, stew, or chili? Would microwave very easily.

What a great idea!
posted by teragram at 10:30 AM on November 10, 2011

this chili from 101 cookbooks is amazing. it is vegan to start and cheese can be added for folks who like that kind of stuff. i make a big pot of it and my sweetie and i reheat at work over the course of the week. you can also add guacamole, hot sauce, tortillas (reheat in toaster or microwave to soften). most importantly, it's super delicious and easy to make.
posted by anya32 at 10:32 AM on November 10, 2011

Taco bar, since the only thing you need to reheat is the protein. I'd recommend soft tacos though, since non-heated hard tacos can be sad.
posted by FreezBoy at 10:32 AM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Quiche or a strata with a green salad on the side would make a nice lunch. Minnestrone. Beef stew. Pork stew with green chiles.
posted by Gilbert at 10:39 AM on November 10, 2011

I just made butternut squash soup for 20, - it's cheap and reheats well. And you could totally make it ahead of time and it'll be fine.

I use the Joy of Cooking recipe, with a little coconut milk added and croutons on top.

With a little bread or a small salad, that's perfect.
posted by guster4lovers at 10:47 AM on November 10, 2011

Meatloaf. Serve with potatoes/veg, or in a sandwich. Lots of recipes, from standard beef/pork/ketchup style, to stuff like the turkey-apple-sage recipe I made recently. And then you have this meatloaf-cupcake version which is so adorable you must make it.
posted by aimedwander at 10:55 AM on November 10, 2011

Enchilada casserole is awesome, and it actually gets better when you reheat it. You can make it meaty or nonmeaty, but the basic idea is as follows:

Pour a little sauce (red sauce, green sauce, sour cream, salsa, whatever) on the bottom of the pan.
Fill the tortillas (whatever kind you like) with cheese and/or a chicken mixture (listed below). Line 'em up fairly snugly in the pan with the seam side down.
Cover them with more sauce and more cheese.
Bake that sucker until the cheese is melty or, you know, whenever.

Chicken mixture:
Poach or otherwise cook some chicken so it is still reasonably moist and flakes apart a bit. Combine with some chopped peppers (sweet bell peppers, hot ones or both) and maybe some chopped onions. Maybe add a teeny bit of salsa so it remains moist -- a bit more like a salad or sandwich filling.

You can freeze it before baking because the chicken is already cooked. Microwaving or otherwise reheating makes the flavors meld together even more, and the chicken gets tender. Mmmm.
posted by Madamina at 11:51 AM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Around here one of the go-to meals for these situations is posole. It's cheap, it's easy to make in bulk, all you need to serve it is a ladle and some disposable bowls and spoons, and it gets even better the longer it sits. It's also lighter and less messy than the usual chili, which is nice.

The fresh "garnish" that recipe lists is entirely optional (I rarely see anything served with posole other than warm flour tortillas for those who want them, which I'd recommend), but it does sound awesome!
posted by vorfeed at 12:00 PM on November 10, 2011

Ooh, also: mac and cheese! My family always had the baked mac and cheese recipe from the Joy of Cooking, which is more on the casserole-y egg-based side, and some people don't necessarily go for that style. But it's pretty flexible. I bet you could also do a good one -- or a few different styles -- in a crock pot.
posted by Madamina at 12:12 PM on November 10, 2011

stuffed shells with spinach and ricotta!
posted by sabh at 12:27 PM on November 10, 2011

Do you have a Trader Joe's near you? They have fantastic items that all you have to do is microwave and serve. No fuss, no muss AND they are DELICIOUS!

They have a fantastic lasagna that can feed about four to six in one box so you can get about three of those as a main dish. Then there are other items that are great side dishes like vegetable medley type things, scalloped potatoes, creamy asparagus risotto, too many to mention!

If not, you can make a great baked ziti. It's a simple recipe of ricotta cheese, shredded mozarella, one egg (two eggs if you are using the large ricotta cheese container and two pounds of mozarella) mixed in a bowl. Cook the ziti, drain, mix with cheese mixture. Put in a pan and bake until bubbly. Let cool, refrigerate and reheat when ready!

A little tomato sauce goes well with that. Three cans of crushed tomatoes, one small can of tomato paste...olive oil to coat in a pot, slice some garlic, put in garlic (let it cook until slightly caramelized) then all of the tomatoes, mix, salt, pepper, oregano, a tablespoon of sugar, a half cup of wine (your choice) and let simmer for thirty minutes.

You can slice eggplant, sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper and lay them in a pan to put in the oven at the same time as your ziti. Once it is cooked, you can roll them up, put a toothpick in to hold it and serve as a side dish.

You can freeze the sauce to use anytime, but it will go great with the ziti and the eggplant.

Put out a plate of cheese (some grapes and strawberries) and bread and you are all set!
posted by Yellow at 12:54 PM on November 10, 2011

When I would bring food every day to school, things that microwaved really well were:

-mashed potatoes (sweet or regular)
-lasagna/pasta/sauce and polenta
-green vegetables
-thai curries

other ideas:
-green salads
-bean salads
-fruit salads
posted by 200burritos at 1:42 PM on November 10, 2011

I'd pick something you can serve cold. Microwaving food for 20 sounds like such a hassle. And dangerous in terms of quality. Quiche is a great idea, or a sandwich bar or smorgasbord.
posted by bq at 2:09 PM on November 10, 2011

Some sort of tasty spicy curry and another container of basmati rice pilaf - both of reheat exceedingly well in a microwave. In fact - I'd make a number of curries - pork vindaloo, butter chicken, pea and paneer curry.. all would be good.
posted by helmutdog at 7:54 AM on November 11, 2011

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