cooked pasta in green bowl

Cooking for large groups on holiday can be a challenge – do you cook what you normally do but double the quantities? Or maybe you just bake a few regular dishes and give people a small portion of each…?

When you arrive back at the house after a day exploring and adventuring, the whole family needs a proper meal to recharge their batteries so you’re going to need to think fast and prepare as much as you can in advance to avoid tension.

5 simple recipes for large groups

Keeping the whole group full and happy on holiday is easier than you think if you have the right recipes, so we’ve gathered some of our favourites together below (don’t say we never give you anything) that cater to all tastes and give you the freedom to relax in the knowledge that meals are taken care of*.

Here are five simple recipes for large groups:

Chilli for a crowd (serves 12)

What you’ll need:

3 x 400g cans black beans or red kidney beans
4 tbsp olive oil
900g minced pork
900g coarsely minced beef
250g rashers rindless smoked streaky bacon
6 large onions, finely chopped
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 celery heart, chopped
3 bay leaves
3 large unwaxed lemons
4 tbsp Mexican chilli powder or mild chilli powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 tbsp dried oregano
3 tbsp tomato purée
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
300ml red wine
300ml beef or chicken stock

For the  soured cream
600ml soured cream
Small bunch chives

For the guacamole
5 ripe but firm avocados
2 red bird’s-eye chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
4 small red onions, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves
4 limes
4 tbsp chopped coriander, plus sprigs to garnish (optional)

For the couscous
750ml boiling water
Juice 1 lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
500g couscous

For the tortilla chips
2 x 225g bags corn chips
250g extra-mature cheddar
Cheddar, grated

bowls of colourful spices

To make the chilli:
Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-based lidded pan and brown the pork, then the beef, in 4 batches, scooping into a large bowl as you go.

Once the pork and beef is cooked, slice the bacon into strips and add to the empty pan – cook gently to begin with, raising the heat as the bacon crisps. Scoop the bacon out of the pan.

Add the onions, garlic, celery and the bay leaves, and cook, stirring occasionally, in the juices of the meat, until the onions are soft and almost transparent – this should take about about 20 mins.

Quarter the lemons lengthways, cut out the pithy core and remove the seeds. Chop into very small pieces, each with a bit of peel. Stir the chilli powder, cumin and oregano into the onions and stir-fry for a couple of minutes, then return the meat, adding the tomato purée, chopped tomatoes, lemon, wine and stock.

Stir as the dish heats up, then simmer, covered, for 1 hr 30 mins. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

For convenience, the dish can be frozen at this stage for up to a month – defrost overnight in the fridge before continuing with the recipe.

Rinse the beans and add them to the pan. Cook, uncovered, for a further 30 mins.

To make the soured cream to serve:
Tip the soured cream into a bowl, snip the chives into small pieces then scatter them over the soured cream, cover and refrigerate until serving.

To make the guacamole to serve:
Halve the avocados lengthways, remove the stone and use a fork to mash the flesh into its shell. Scoop into a bowl, mashing further if necessary. Add the chillies, onions and the garlic crushed to a paste with a little salt. Squeeze over the juice of 3 limes, season with black pepper and add the chopped coriander. Mix, adding extra lime juice to taste. Cover with cling film, allowing it to touch the surface. Chill until required.

To make the couscous:
Boil the kettle and measure 750ml water into a mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice, olive oil and couscous. Stir, cover with cling film and leave to soak for 30 mins, then fluff up with a fork.

To make the cheesy tortilla crisps:
Prepare up to 1 hr before serving. Spread the crisps on baking sheets, scatter over the cheese and place under a hot grill for 2-4 mins until molten and crusty. Transfer to a serving bowl.

Serve with the chilli, couscous, guacamole, soured cream and chives and some coriander leaves sprinkled over the top, if you like.

Source: BBC Good Food Magazine, 2015

Chicken & potato casserole (serves 12)

What you’ll need:

9 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
270g butter
12 large potatoes
3 large onions
3 tins cream of mushroom soup
550ml water
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste

freshly picked potatoes in paper bag

To make the casserole:

Cut chicken breasts into even strips and slice the onions thinly.

Melt butter in large casserole dish. Slice potatoes (round) into casserole dish, add the sliced onions and salt to taste. Place sliced chicken on top of potatoes.

Spoon mushroom soup on top of chicken and potatoes. Pour water into dish.

Cover and bake at 190 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Source: CD Kitchen

Stuffed pork loin with sage butter (serves 12)

What you’ll need:

170g spinach or other favorite greens, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbsp olive oil
230g Parmesan
Two pieces of 600-700g pork loin, butterflied and pounded flat
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

For the sage butter
Juice of two lemons
42 tsp Dijon mustard
150g fresh sage, chopped
120g butter
1 tsp salt

To serve:
3kg potatoes
900g carrots

Heat oven to 200 degrees.

Combine spinach, garlic, olive oil and Parmesan in a bowl and mix well.

Rub salt and pepper on both sides of each piece of flattened pork, then spread the spinach mixture onto the two pieces of meat, leaving about 2cm uncovered. Roll each gently and tie with kitchen string.

Place the pork in a small roasting pan and roast for 20 minutes uncovered. Reduce temperature to 150 degrees, cover and roast for a further 2 hours.

While the meat is roasting, peel your potatoes. Cut into quarters and add to a pan of cold water before bringing to the boil. Simmer for five minutes then remove the from the heat and drain in a colander. Add a sprinkling of flour and salt, shake to cover and tip onto a hot roasting tray, cover on hot fat and roast for 1 hour (or until crisp and golden).

While the meat and potatoes are roasting, peel and slice the carrots and add to a pan of salted boiling water. Simmer for 10-15 minutes then serve.

roasted potatoes to serve 10

Remove the pork from oven and allow to rest for about 15 minutes.

Place roasting pan over medium heat on your hob and stir until the juices from the meat are reduced by half and slightly thickened.

Combine sage butter ingredients (lemon, mustard, sage, butter and salt) with pan drippings, and stir over medium heat in the roasting pan until well mixed. Remove strings from roast pork and slice. Spoon sauce over top and serve with roast potatoes and carrots.

Source: Farm Flavour

Double Spinach Pasta Casserole with Pesto & Asiago Cheese (serves 10)

What you’ll need:

700g spinach pasta
300g fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped, about 5 cups
4 large shallots, peeled and chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced
60g Asiago cheese, grated
220g raw chicken breast, finely chopped (optional)
230g low-fat Greek yogurt
240ml cream
230g basil pesto, homemade or jarred
Half tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 large eggs
Olive oil

To make the pasta bake:

Heat the oven to 180C and lightly grease two square baking dishes (approximately 8″ x 8″) with olive oil. Boil two large pans of salted water and add half the spinach pasta to each. Cook according to package instructions, drain, and set aside.

While the pasta is cooking, in a large bowl toss together the chopped spinach, shallots, and garlic. Toss with the Asiago cheese and the chicken breast, if using.

pesto pasta for large family recipe

In a separate bowl whisk together the Greek yogurt, cream, and pesto. Taste and add salt as desired, depending on the saltiness of the pesto. Stir in a generous quantity of black pepper and whisk in the eggs.

Add half the spinach and shallot to each of the two pans of pasta, then divide the sauce between the tow and toss to coat. Spread the mixture in the two prepared baking dishes.

(At this point the casserole can be covered and refrigerated overnight.)

Bake each pasta dish for 30 minutes or until golden-brown on top and lightly bubbling.

Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes then serve with a salad, like a colorful cabbage slaw, or roasted vegetables.

Source: The Kitchn

Classic Slow Cooker Beef & Ale Stew (serves 8)

What you’ll need:

900g trimmed boneless chuck roast beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
1-2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
2-3 tbsp canola oil, divided
3 large onions, sliced
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
340ml brown ale
300ml beef stock
675g baby Dutch potatoes, halved
450g carrots, peeled and sliced
4 thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
55g flat-leaf parsley leaves

To make the stew:

While heating a large skillet over medium-high heat, sprinkle the beef evenly with salt and pepper. Add 1-2 tbsp oil to pan and add half of beef, cooking for 6 minutes, turning until well browned on all sides. Remove beef from pan and repeat with remaining beef.

slow cooked beef for beef and ale casserole for large groups

Once cooked, remove beef and any juices from pan.

Add final tbsp oil to pan with onions and garlic; sauté for 4 minutes then add the beer, scraping the pan to loosen any browned bits, and bring to the boil. Cook for 2 minutes.

Stir in 250ml stock, add the remaining 1 tsp salt and pepper and simmer. Carefully pour the mixture into a slow cooker. Add the beef, potatoes, carrots, thyme, and bay leaves. Cover and cook on LOW for 7 hours.

Combine remaining 50ml stock with 2 tbsp of flour, stirring with a whisk, then add to the stew; cook for 15 minutes or until thickened. Stir in mustard and vinegar. Discard thyme sprigs and bay leaves and sprinkle with parsley to serve.

This dish is delicious served with potatoes and your favourite seasonal vegetables.

Source: My Recipes

* If you’d rather someone else took care of them, we’ve got your back there too – speak to one of the team on 01208 821 341 about a private chef – it’s easier and more affordable than you might think.