Summer is here and the invitations are already arriving. I’m talking about the casual summer parties we all get invited to. The whole idea behind these parties is they’re supposed to be simple. So they’re usually potluck parties and they’re usually outdoors. This combination does make the host’s job easier because a good bit of the cooking is handled by the guests. Clean up is usually easier too. In fact I’ve been known to throw all the plates in the pool and leave them til morning. Which is why I find these events so stress-free as a host. But as a guest it takes some pre-thinking to get things to go just as smoothly. I usually bring the simplest style of dish in my repertoire. I’m talking about the Potluck Salad.
The Potluck Salad is different from other salads because at its best (in my mind) it’s not a green salad.
When I’m invited to someone’s house – and I’m only responsible for one dish on the buffet table – I want it to be special. Perhaps something colorful. Maybe I’ll feature a special or seasonal ingredient. Mostly I want to be sure that my Potluck Salad is full of fresh, interesting flavors.
Of course there are other factors to consider when planning a Potluck Salad. These factors may not be as sexy as color or flavor, but they’re vital to success. Primarily your Potluck Salad should hold up well – both in the car and on the table. Also, you always want to make sure there’s plenty to go around. These events usually draw a crowd (when you’re cooking 😉).
As for my current summer invite, I’ve chosen a Orzo-Roast Carrot Salad with Roast Garlic & Dill. However, there are plenty of other great options. Just make sure to build the salad around sturdy ingredients like pasta, grains, legumes or boldly-colored vegetables. If there’s cooking involved, make sure it can be done well in advance. Your host planned this simple outdoor get-together because he or she wanted the guests to be outdoors – not in the kitchen. Though I do think it’s fine to bring the dressing and any fresh herbs or garnishes packed in separate containers. A little last minute plating shouldn’t upset the equilibrium too much.
Oh yeah – don’t forget to serve your Potluck Salad on chlorine-proof platters, plates or bowls if you’re attending a pool party at my house. GREG