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Dairy-free main dishes for a group of about 12

I've got an interesting project: a local monastery's cook is going on vacation for 3 weeks and my husband and I volunteered to help make some meals. I had a list of 9 favorite dishes that I thought they'd like, but then found out that 2 of the monks have dairy/lactose issues--and most all of my dishes involved cheese in some way. They tell me it would be okay to make the dishes but make a portion without the milk/cheese, but I'd like to see if I can just come up some dishes that could work for everyone.

The dishes they're looking forward to from my list are meatloaf, turkey/black bean chili with hotdogs, and some kind of chicken curry (I don't really have a recipe but told them I'd come up with something). They were okay with 3-cheese ziti with sausage--as long as I made a portion without any cheese.

The plan is that I/we would make things earlier in the day for them to heat up later--or prepare meals in a couple of crock pots to cook all day. Got any suggestions? (One of the monks is going to make Sloppy Joes, so that's already spoken for.) They weren't so interested in meatless meals because they eat some sort of penitential canned soup on Fridays. :-P

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  1. Franks and beans.
    Pot roast.
    Boiled dinner.
    Salade Nicoise.
    Bouillabaise/Cioppino

    5 Replies
    1. re: greygarious

      I thought about pot roast but then thought about it being the dog days of summer and dismissed the thought. But I'll bet they'd love that ATK pot roast recipe that I learned about from you guys (Chowhounders).

      1. re: Thanks4Food

        Pot roast with a potato salad and/or coleslaw along side would make for a yummy summer supper. And leftovers could be turned into tacos.

        1. re: Thanks4Food

          It would be helpful to know a bit about the monks' duties. If the monastery produces and sells products of some sort, like
          those that grow crops, make jams and breads, etc., a monk might go through a lot of calories in a day, and hearty entrees would be in order. If there's little or no physical labor,
          lighter summer meals are appropriate.

          1. re: greygarious

            The one who has his own vegetable garden would probably be satisfied with a kale smoothie. :-P I'm sure they're all very busy throughout the day with various duties at home and in the community, but not terribly strenuous. However, I can't imagine any of these guys saying, "I think all I'd like is a salad."

            One thing I do know: one of the monks told me once that their cook doesn't think sandwiches of any sort should be served for dinner--and that includes hotdogs, hamburgers, etc. So I think they take advantage of his being away to have things like that. I know they're looking forward to chili dogs--and I'm going to suggest the sausage and peppers idea too.

            1. re: Thanks4Food

              Okay then, maybe a soup and sandwich dinner. You could make croque monsieurs or grilled cheeses earlier in the day, for them to recrisp on a sheet pan in the oven.

        1. re: juliejulez

          Since I can't eat bell peppers, it never would have crossed my mind. But they might just like that--and it sure sounds easy.

          1. re: Thanks4Food

            Yup, very easy and tasty, serve w/ some hoagie/sub type rolls

            This one is done on the grill but the oven method would be pretty much the same, minus all the charcoal stuff of course: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/20...

            1. re: juliejulez

              They do have a gas grill. This could be something I prepare for them early in the day and they grill for themselves later on.

        2. Sofrito Chicken Stew from skinnytaste.com is great... one of my husband's favorites. I made it recently for a gluten free/lactose intolerant friend who also doesn't eat meat. She loved it! (I used chicken stock instead of beer when I made it for her.)
          http://www.skinnytaste.com/2008/09/so...

          1 Reply
          1. re: onrushpam

            This looks good! And since beer is a treat they don't get very often, just the thought that there's beer in it would probably appeal to them.

          2. You could make some sort of tomato based meatballs served over a nice rice. The Brass Sisters have a very nice recipe for a lemon chicken on their website, and makes a substantial portion and is quite delicious.
            http://www.thebrasssisters.com/pages/...

            1. Moroccan chickpea stew. You can vary the vegetables on what you find, add chicken.

              http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/moroc...

              1 Reply
              1. re: chowser

                We make a similar recipe quite often and everyone loves it and it is filling and easy to make. We make ours with chicken and chickpeas.