Feeding a hungry crowd with food restrictions
February 1, 2017 9:56 AM   Subscribe

Hey! I need to feed a film crew of ~15 a hot meal and two substantial snacks that meet the following criteria: No nuts, Vegetarian, Dairy free, Handheld (for the substantial snacks) I have to be able to make everything the day before and reheat the lunch on location.

I've run out of bandwidth to make this decision and I need suggestions. Crew will have been shooting all morning outdoors, so will be cold and hungry. I have an apartment kitchen to prep/reheat, but will also be production managing/producing so less hands on time is better.

What should I feed them?
posted by lizifer to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
First thing that pops to mind for the handheld would be roast veggie wraps. Maybe with a pesto dressing minus the nut element?
posted by a fiendish thingy at 9:58 AM on February 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'd go with a vegan muffin for one of the snacks. I don't have a specific recipe, but Google has lots of different ones.
posted by Fig at 10:00 AM on February 1, 2017

Fully vegetarian for everyone or there are some vegetarian people?

For the main meal: Taco bar. Prepare some seasoned ground beef (totally reheatable - and leave it out if everyone's vegetarian) & some seasoned beans (also reheatable), add bowls of chopped up lettuce, tomatoes, maybe some avocado, some cheese, chips & salsa/sour cream/guacamole, and a stack of tortillas or taco shells. Let people assemble their own.
posted by brainmouse at 10:04 AM on February 1, 2017 [5 favorites]

Tacos. Beans, no nuts, pico de gallo, lettuce, onions, probably even find some gluten-free tortillas if you wanted.
posted by Autumnheart at 10:06 AM on February 1, 2017

Vegetarian chili or chili-mac is another possible option in the same vein as tacos. Good cold weather food, and easy on the cook! Possibly with cheese on the side, for those interested.
posted by backwards compatible at 10:09 AM on February 1, 2017

Caponata is vegetarian and dairy-free, and can be served without nuts. It also reheats super well.
posted by neushoorn at 10:10 AM on February 1, 2017

Samosas, tamales, burritos (with no cheese/sour cream), falafel (with no yogurt/feta), veggie burgers, veggie hot dogs

Not handheld/for the meal:
Pasta with a red veggie sauce, salad, curry
posted by vegartanipla at 10:10 AM on February 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

Vegetarian chili. There are many great recipes on the interwebs.
posted by Dolley at 10:10 AM on February 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

I do something pretty similar to the taco bar, but with tortillas and rice, like a Chipotle line, essentially, and I make a huge batch of this tofu:

Dice up a bunch of extra firm tofu into about .25" chunks
Put it in a Ziploc bag, and add:
Ground chile
Black pepper
Achiote oil (regular vegetable oil is OK, too)
Apple cider vinegar
Soy sauce

Marinate for a couple few hours, then drain and cook. I usually saute it in smallish batches until it's chewy, but with really large quantities, you might try roasting it in the oven instead.

I usually also make some chicken because I have a regular guest who doesn't eat soy, but everyone else prefers the tofu.
posted by ernielundquist at 10:12 AM on February 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

This is a textbook case for homemade veggie burgers and/or sandwiches. Make the patties beforehand, separate with wax paper in tupperware, assemble and reheat onsite. Bring a box full of condiments for people to customize. Serve with fries or another simple, hot side dish. We have this excellent book of recipes, and many more are available online.

Maybe even easier, make TLT (tempeh/lettuce/tomato) sandwiches and cut them into quarters for the snacks. When I lived in LA in an office that often hosted catered photoshoots, we'd get loads of TLTs from Real Food Daily and they were hugely popular. You can buy pre-made tempeh bacon or make your own.

I'm hungry now.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 10:13 AM on February 1, 2017

Agree that a customizable taco bar would be great for a main meal. I'd have corn & wheat tortillas, some kind of meat - whatever is easy, beans, lettuce, mild salsa, spicy salsa, avocado or guacamole, and cheese. Optional additions would be sour cream, chopped green onion, sautéed onions and peppers, rice, and whatever you think would be good.

You don't have very many options for sources of protein, which I think is important for a substantial snack. All I can think of are eggs, tofu (or other soy), and beans/lentils/hummus. Ideas: wraps with hummus and roasted veggies; breakfast burrito filled with hash browns, egg, avocado, sautéed onion; wraps with hummus and falafel; a spread of vegan cookies, fruit, hard boiled eggs, and maybe individually wrapped packets of nuts if that's safe for the nut-allergic.
posted by insectosaurus at 10:16 AM on February 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Snack 1: Sliced Baguettes, Tubs of Hummus, Apples
Snack 2: Giant delicious brownies (here's a vegan, nut-free recipe)

No-Prep Lunch: Amy's Black Bean Burritos ($4-5 each, available at Whole Foods or similar grocery stores)

Slightly more prep but tastier lunch: Burrito Bar made up of as many of the following as you like:
- Giant burrito wraps
- Black Beans (here's a simple recipe -- I recommend omitting the cilantro, as some folks can't stand it)
- Refried beans
- Rice
- 2 kinds of salsa (mild & medium)
- 2 kinds of hot sauce (medium & hot)
- Frozen corn, microwaved
- Diced red bell peppers
- Sliced lettuce
- Guacamole
posted by ourobouros at 10:36 AM on February 1, 2017

I would also do a type of muffin or quickbread for a snack (assuming dairy-free means you can use eggs). Find one that uses oil instead of butter for the fat. I love this morning glory muffin recipe (leave out the nuts) if you have a food processor.
posted by radioamy at 11:03 AM on February 1, 2017

Falafel balls can be fried the day before and then reheated in an oven. They'd make a decent addition to a taco bar or a good base for a pita bar.
posted by soelo at 11:16 AM on February 1, 2017

Falafel would also make a decent hand held snack.
posted by soelo at 11:17 AM on February 1, 2017

I eat a lot of 'omelet muffins'*--basically little frittatas that you can cook in ramekins or muffin tins. I eat them for breakfast on the go but they'd be good for a hearty snack, too-- they're handheld and portable. Here's a recipe that includes meat, but you could easily just omit that (I often do) or maybe sub for some Morningstar ground sausage for some additional protein. They're good hot, lukewarm, or even room temp, and would probably hold well in a warm oven.

*I'm assuming eggs are ok in the vegetarian/no dairy, but please disregard if not!
posted by stellaluna at 11:24 AM on February 1, 2017

Falafel! Go to Costco and get their organic premadr falafels and microwave them. Serve with tortilla shells/pita (if no wheat restriction ). I make my own Tanziki sauce my using soy free/egg free mayo, vinegar, doll, and a smudge of sugar. Serve with sliced avocados as a topping and you are good to go!
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 11:58 AM on February 1, 2017

For the main, you might try this lentil shepherd's pie. Super easy and fast to make, seven ingredients, mega-filling, reheats wonderfully.

For the substantial snacks, how about chickpea cutlet sandwiches? They are deliciously savory, hearty, and warming, and most excellent on a bun with BBQ sauce or whole-grain mustard.
posted by amnesia and magnets at 12:01 PM on February 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Calzones with vegetarian filling.
posted by Oyéah at 12:09 PM on February 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

I think I'd go with a rich minestrone for the main meal - with beans for protein. Add the pasta when warming, rather than when cooking. Serve with a lot of good sourdough bread for scraping up every last bit of your delicious soup.

For the snacks, the most important thing is that they are easy to handle on the go. What about preparing paper bags with an apple, a piece of candy, a bottle of water and a samosa that everyone can take along at the first break. You can basically set this up the day before and just throw in the samosas before serving (make them the day before or buy them at an Asian store and then warm them just before serving. The second break could be another paper-bag with an orange, a piece of carrot cake, and a cucumber sandwich made with vegan mayo.
posted by mumimor at 12:36 PM on February 1, 2017

Delivery pizza, some of it cheese-less. I'm exhausted just thinking about what you're trying to do.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:31 PM on February 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

Sandwiches and a big pot of pumpkin soup. Make it from tins. Styrofoam mugs. Could be a snack too.

Honestly, given your lack of time and bandwidth, I'd get three types of soup and three types of bread, and serve soup and something to dip in it three times.
posted by kjs4 at 4:32 PM on February 1, 2017

Seasoned quinoa and rice with pepper, onions and whatever vegs you want to throw in there. Serve with bread or chips. Just wanted you to have another protein option (bean hating vegetarian here).
posted by stray thoughts at 7:14 PM on February 1, 2017

I'm going forward with the taco bar and samosas delivered from a local restaurant. Thanks everybody! (I have juggled these balls before, for those of you who are concerned about fatigue, and you're right it's exhausting. Funding application trailer means no budget for catering, alas.)

(Being incomprehensibly busy while Rome burns is actually helping. Hate to think what the crash will look like after Saturday.)
posted by lizifer at 4:12 AM on February 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

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