The sun was shining and the snow was melting yesterday as we spent the afternoon in the kitchen preparing for our Italian dinner. 80 pounds of spaghetti noodles were precooked, rinsed, then drizzled with a little olive oil. Just before serving, the noodles required only a 1-2 minute dunk in boiling water to heat up again. This is the best way to feed a huge crowd in a short amount of time. The spaghetti sauce started with 20 pounds of 90% lean ground beef that we browned on the griddle, then added to 60 pounds of leftover meatloaf that was in the freezer from dinner a few weeks ago. To the meat mixture we added 24 #10 cans of Contadina Deluxe Spaghetti Sauce, and used seven 22 quart roasters to warm it up in. We planned for 500 servings, but only served 450 last night, so leftovers will be shared with the WAVI women’s shelter today.
The recipe for the Italian Garden Salad we served was one that I adapted from a recipe I found online for a copycat version of the Italian salad at Olive Garden. Here’s the recipe if you have a big crowd to feed:
Italian Garden Salad: 400 servings
40# American Salad Blend (Iceberg, Romaine, Radish, Red cabbage, carrots)
5 red onions, thinly sliced
1 gallon banana peppers
10# small vine ripened tomatoes, cut in quarters
1 #10 can sliced black olives
50 cups large croutons
6 cups grated parmesan cheese
16 cups olive oil
6 cups white vinegar
1 1/2 cups Miracle Whip
3 ¾ cups lemon juice
8 cups grated parmesan cheese
5 TBSP garlic salt
¾ cup dried Italian Seasoning
3 ¾ cups water
Puree ingredients in blender until smooth.
Add croutons and dressing to salad just before serving.
We served 2 kinds of bread that was ordered through Sysco: Baker Boy Garlic Toast and Tuscan Loaf from La Brea Bakery. The garlic toast comes frozen with 125 pieces per case. Last night we used 4 1/2 cases. It requires about 3 minutes on a hot griddle to get it warm and toasty. The Tuscan Loaves come frozen with twelve 28 oz loaves per case. These are thawed, heated and sliced and have a really great homemade flavor. We used 10 loaves for dinner as an alternative for those who don’t care for the strong garlic flavor in the toast.
For dessert we made fruit pizza that I adapted from a recipe given to me by my friend Deb Fredrich. Thanks for sharing Deb! We used kiwis, strawberries, blueberries and bananas as our toppings, but any fruits will do (unless they are too juicy.)
Fruit Pizza: Makes 48 squares, when cut 4 x 6. Use 2 half size sheet pans (13″ x 18″ x 1″)
3 cups butter (softened not melted)
2 cups powdered sugar
6 cups flour
Mix and pat into 2 half size pans. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper first. Bake 20 minutes @ 300 degrees in convection oven. Cool.
24 oz. White chocolate chips
4 1/2 ounces whipping cream
Melt chips and cream together in microwave and add:
16 ounces softened cream cheese
Beat all together and spread on cooled crust. Make sure the cream cheese mixture seals against the sides of the pan, otherwise the fruit will seep to the crust and make it soggy. It is not a good idea to cut the pizza ahead of time, it will also make the crust soggy.
Refrigerate a couple of hours or overnight for the cream cheese mixture to harden.
Add your favorite fruit: Cut fruit in small pieces and spread on cream cheese topping. Don’t use frozen fruit because it will be too juicy.
To make the glaze to go on top of the fruit, mix together in a saucepan:
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp plus 1 tsp corn starch
1 cup pineapple juice
1 tsp lemon juice
Cook on stovetop until thick, stirring constantly. Cool, spoon over fruit.
Coming next week…Cuisine of Greece. Menu will be posted soon!