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 an 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
LOVE the video, and the Jell‑O mold! Stripes are the new polka dots! Your salad is exactly what I like to bring to a potluck — a non-salad salad!
Great ideas. We are heading 2 hours north for a party this weekend with BBQ friends. The 2 hours throws a kink into a lot of the sides we can bring and it requires a little creativity like you’ve shown here. I’ll try not to throw plates in their pool though 😉
Your party looks like a blast and the food looks phenomenal! It’s not quite warm enough for a pool here in Toronto but I understand that by Sunday it’ll tip the scales at 21° C (70° F) at the cottage. Maybe I’ll dangle my feet in the lake!
And OMG! That video~ That jello! And I’d be in the pool! And I just gave my daughter my mother’s entire 36 place settings of Heller dishware. Don’t think I didn’t notice!
This does look like a great potluck salad! With all that garlic, how could it be bad?
I’m going right out to Walmart to buy one of those blow-up pools so I can rinse my dishes like you do. Mine will be chlorine-free. I can just change the water if there is an accident or something.
Greg , this does look like a great potluck salad and it goes with almost everything. I could use your pool for some cooling off because it is 103 Fahrenheit here in Paris.