Looking for recipes, it's as simple as that
January 29, 2011 12:29 PM   Subscribe

Weekly potluck, need recipes, there are (of course) some restrictions and details that make this snowflaky...

So, I've rented a room recently and that means socializing... My neighbors host a weekly potluck on Fridays and the guest list is fluid but for a small, core group of people. Between myself, my roommate and my neighbors, there are two Germans and two Americans -- but the rest of the guests run the gambit between Turks, Indians, Egyptians, Nigerians, Peruvians, whatever. The thing is, some don't eat pork, some don't eat beef, and some eat anything. I like to make dishes that most carnivores can eat (I eat meat, I cook with meat - there are usually plenty of veggie dishes for the non-meat eaters that gather).

I'm a starving grad student with limited time - usually about three hours from start of prep to beginning of party -- and limited funds. I share a kitchen with three other people, so I can't take it up every week either. I'd like to offer interesting dishes that people from other countries might find tasty. They don't always have to be entrées either - but they do have to be easy and cheap to make. I know I could browse through cookbooks and recipe sites, but I'm looking for suggestions and tried and true recipes.

So, metafilter, what are your tried and true potluck-type recipes that do not include beef or pork, aren't too time-consuming, and don't cost a lot to make?
posted by patheral to Food & Drink (27 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Sesame noodles are my favorite easy, fast, cheap potluck meal. I generally just make them with plain old pasta-- you can also add vegetables if you've got them. This is similar to the recipe I use, although I usually mix things to taste, so I'm not sure if the proportions are right. Then I top it with red pepper flakes, fresh cilantro, and sesame seeds if I have them.
posted by geegollygosh at 12:38 PM on January 29, 2011

Best answer: I know you said you're a carnivore, but I've had very good experience with this veggie lasagna. I'm not normally a Paula Deen fan, but this is delicious. I'm a hardcore meat eater myself, but I don't even miss it in this dish. Most of the prep is the knife work for the veggies, but you can be as precious as you want with that depending on your timeline. Either fine slices or rustic chopping work since the veg are pre-boiled.

Another option that might be especially good for your cultural mix of attendees would be a curried chicken soup. My go-to recipe isn't available online, but surely you can find one to suit your tastes.
posted by dnesan at 12:41 PM on January 29, 2011

If you have people with varying "I will eat meats X and Y, but not Z" sorts of dietary requirements, the best thing to do is to prepare something vegetarian so that everyone can eat it.

I understand that you eat meat, but you can eat meat the other 20 meals a week. Cooking one vegetarian dish because it's the easiest and most economical way to be inclusive at a potluck where you want to make friends is not going to kill you.

Vegetable side dishes are always good to bring to these sorts of things. Also super easy and mega cheap. Bean dishes as well.

A total departure from everything I just said: this white chicken chili recipe seems to be pretty popular among the food blogging community.
posted by Sara C. at 12:47 PM on January 29, 2011

Best answer: Cornbread dressing (like at Thanksgiving - the sausageless version) is cheap, filling, flavorful, and can be made vegetarian (veg broth rather than stock) or vegan (no eggs in the cornbread) without suffering at all. It's tastier if you can make your cornbread and assemble the day before and let it meld in the fridge for a day, but if you don't have the fridge space you could assemble and bake straight away.

Other good dishes might be chicken spaghetti, mushroom or butternut squash soup, good old macaroni and cheese, and the potluck staple King Ranch Chicken (with or without canned soup)
posted by Lyn Never at 12:48 PM on January 29, 2011

I would go for soups. If you prepare it the day before (when fewer folks are using the kitchen) you can microwave the next day. Bonus for you; soups usually taste BETTER the second day. Prep probably takes half an hour, but the longer it cooks usually the better it tastes.

You could go vegetarian with something like curried pea soup or mushroom barley (both can also be made with meat-based broths but without meat) or you could go meat-related with a chicken or vegetable beef soup. Just cook them for a whole day (on low of course) the day before.
posted by answergrape at 12:55 PM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't have any specific recommendations, but I would say that the majority of options were vegetarian, I don't think that making something that is not would be a problem. We used to occasionally have pot luck lunches when I worked at a university library. A fair number of the students were international and there was the usual mix of omnivores, vegetarians and vegans. Everyone just made what they wanted, sometimes a reflection of their nationality, sometimes not. Most dishes were vegetarian, but some were not. It was never an issue as long as there was a variety of food for everyone.

It's also useful to try to bring a course that you don't think anyone else is covering. Do people mainly bring mains? side dishes? Could you mix it up once and awhile and bring crackers and cheese for appetizers (which is an easy out cooking wise, but since nice cheese isn't cheap it could end up being a more expensive option)? Perhaps even chips and home made guacamole or good salsa? What about a nice salad? I make a great (if I do say so myself) fall/winter salad that incorporates roasted butternut squash (cubed), arugula, sliced apple, roasted walnuts, and goats cheese with a simple oil (walnut or olive) and vinegar (red or balsamic) dressing.Of course there is also the whole world of desserts at the other end of the meal, but baking is time consuming. Maybe a nice fruit salad or diced fruit and chocolate sauce? As for a not too expensive main that will satisfy most people, what about home made mac and cheese? It will provide the international guests with a taste of classic Americana. And I say not too expensive because the cheeses can add up (typically a mix including gruyere is suggested in most recipes), but the rest of the ingredients will be cheap.
posted by kaybdc at 1:29 PM on January 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: If you want to do a meat dish - and if you are sure there will be plenty of vegetarian dishes I don't think that would be a problem in fact the carnivores might thank you - do chilli. It's a quite economical meal if you use a relatively small amount of meat and a lot of beans and you can use a range of beans, not just kidney. You can prepare it ahead of time and reheat on the day. And you can use any meat not just beef, I've had great success mixing lamb and chicken mince for example.
posted by koahiatamadl at 1:38 PM on January 29, 2011

Teach yourself to make bread. Breaking it together crosses cultures. Vary the spreads you bring each week.
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:52 PM on January 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

My potluck recipes are nearly always pasta. Mac and cheese has been a favorite. Pasta salad and peanut noodles are great because they taste good at room temperature (although I like pasta salad on the cool side and peanut noodles on the warm side.) Here's my favorite pasta salad:

Greek Pasta Salad

6 ounces rotini or other small pasta
Bottled vinaigrette
3 roma tomatoes, diced
1 small green pepper, sliced into strips
½ cup sliced red onion
¼ cup kalamata olives, pitted and sliced in half
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
2 teaspoons fresh oregano or ½ teaspoon dried
Juice of ½ a lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and immediately toss with a few tablespoons vinaigrette. Add remaining ingredients. Add more vinaigrette as desired.

Serves 3

Adapted from “In a Vegetarian Kitchen” by Nava Atlas

And my favorite peanut noodle recipe:

Spicy Peanut Pasta

8 ounces fettuccine or spaghetti
4 tablespoons hot pasta cooking water
1/3 to 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari
3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons agave nectar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes (or to taste)
2 green onions, white and green part, sliced
2 tablespoons roasted peanuts, chopped

Cook pasta until al dente.

While pasta is cooking, whisk together the next nine ingredients, hot water through red chili flakes, in a medium bowl.

Drain pasta and transfer to a serving bowl. Stir in peanut sauce and half of the sliced green onions. Top with remaining green onions and chopped peanuts. Serve at room temperature.

Serves 4


If you make either of those, you might want to double them for a pot luck. Also, if you want to make a meat recipe, most anything with beef or pork can be made with chicken in its place.
posted by zinfandel at 2:10 PM on January 29, 2011 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: To expand on kaybdc's comments and questions: No one knows who is going to bring what to these gatherings, and everyone wants to keep it that way. Last week we had three entrées and five desserts, yesterday we had a full range of dishes. Also, the only two people guaranteed to be there are the hosts. Everyone else is a maybe/might be -- even those of use who show up nearly every week. The invites are "word of mouth" and the ticket in is a dish or drink.

This means I don't know if there will be people with dietary restrictions there... I just want prepare meals for the possibilities. My roomie takes care of the breads and salads. She's all over breads and salads (and cheese, let's not forget the cheese). She's the "healthier" of us two (just ask her). Me? I like to show off my cooking skills like some of the other folks that come to this shindig.

Yesterday, I made Dolma with lamb and that kinda stretched me on both time and money -- but it was worth it. ^_^
posted by patheral at 3:05 PM on January 29, 2011

if you have a blender (or an immersion blender and a pitcher) you could set up a smoothie bar - bring a variety of pre-peeled/cut fruits, a jug of orange juice, a bag of ice, and blend people up smoothies of their choosing. Also, add vodka!

a good variety of ingredients:
orange juice
a bag of frozen berries
coconut milk
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 3:39 PM on January 29, 2011

Best answer: Everyone eats chicken, and it's cheap.

I often make a delicious chicken wings recipe that always gets lots of good feedback.

Take a bunch of chicken wings. Get a big bowl and pour in soy sauce, chili sauce, crushed garlic, oil (I like sesame, but any sort works) and honey or brown sugar. You can't go wrong with this recipe, so play around with proportions until you get something you really like. Put the chicken wings in, return the bowl to the fridge, and leave it as long as you can - a few hours at the minimum, overnight if possible. Then cook them. You can do them in the oven on bake or grill (um, broil? if you are USian), or on a BBQ. Cook until they aren't pink inside. The time this takes will depend on how big the wings are.
posted by lollusc at 4:28 PM on January 29, 2011

Cheap, filling, and quick? I would do fried rice. Cook your brown or white rice a day or two before (or, better yet, use leftover rice) and keep in the fridge. Then saute whatever veg you have around or that are currently cheap: carrots, shrooms, broccoli, peas, etc., etc. Stir in your rice, a little garlic, and some soy sauce and oyster sauce to taste. You could add cooked egg if you wanted to, maybe have some inexpensive cooked meat on the side for the carnivores. Top with green onions and bean sprouts and you've got some good eats.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 4:30 PM on January 29, 2011

There's a vegan potato-dill salad I make that usually gets rave reviews. ... Rather than linking to it, I'll just paste it in:

12 small red potatoes, unpeeled
1 T Dijon mustard
6 sprigs fresh minced dill
1/3 C. red wine vinegar
1/2 C. olive oil
1/4 small red onion, chopped
1 1/2 tsp. salt

Boil the potatoes until soft (usually about 20 minutes), then drain them and let cool.

Whisk the rest of the ingredients together in a bowl.

Once the potatoes have cooled, cut them into bite-size pieces and toss them with the dressing.

Refrigerate the potato salad for an hour before serving.

... You might want to adjust salt and/or dill to taste--I find that I usually use more of the non-salt spices than required.
posted by johnofjack at 5:03 PM on January 29, 2011 [4 favorites]

If you want to do universal meat, lamb or chicken are the way to go. Either of these lends itself to highly spiced meatballs, and those are as economical as you want (you can stretch with breadcrumbs.) Try lamb balls with lots of mint, with or without a tomato sauce -- Turkish flavors. And chicken meatballs with cilantro and green onions -- Mexican flavors.
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:12 PM on January 29, 2011

Best answer: There is not a person on this planet* who does not love this stupidly-easy-to-make Oven baked Thai chicken rice.

Bonus points:
1. Can be prepared the night before and reheated in the microwave or on the stove. Add a little hot water or stock if it's a bit too thick.

2. You can subsitute sweet potatoes for the chicken and it's even nicer (or bulk it out with sweet pototes if you like to have meat as part of your meal).

3. I use whatever colour bell peppers are on the reduced shelf, not just red.

4. The recipe calls for "4 tbsp Thai green curry paste (we used Bart's) , or use less for a milder taste". I use a whole jar of cheap supermarket brand Thai red curry paste to give it a nice kick.

5. Relatively cheap, especially if you can get chicken pieces on sale and freeze them to use for this dish.

* even my mother will eat this without complaining!
posted by ceri richard at 5:57 PM on January 29, 2011 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Metafilter's own Greasy Honky Pie.

I've altered the recipe slightly. I basically shred potatoes and make a nice crispy hashbrown instead of tatertots. I also sub out ground turkey and my own taco seasoning. Everything else can stay the same, although I've played with some other ideas as well.

Cheap, tasty, and it's always gotten rave reviews at potlucks (along with curses of "WHY IS THIS SO ADDICTING WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO ME").
posted by SNWidget at 10:15 PM on January 29, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers so far... I'd honestly rather not cook veggie dishes. As I said, there are usually plenty of veggie dishes at this shingdig - my roommate likes to cook vegetarian as does one of the hosts. I'm really looking to expand out from beef & pork dishes... and I my virtual recipe box is light on chicken recipes. So yeah, I'd like to hear from people who have tried & true recipes that don't include beef or pork (maybe fish?)

Or maybe some great desserts?
posted by patheral at 10:58 PM on January 29, 2011

One very popular thing that we've done is to set up a build-your own taco buffet, with an array of innards and toppings, for example: one platter of shredded (tastily prepared) chicken, one of beef or ground beef, and one of sauteed veggies like zucchini/eggplant/peppers/mushroom/onions; delicious black beans and/or refried beans; rice; chopped veg topping (usually tomato, onion, lettuce or cabbage, black olives); guacamole; sour cream; shredded cheese; salsa.

Everybody represented, tasty, fun and 100% customizable! Also, the great thing is that all these ingredients are so easy to use in a million ways if you have leftovers. In fact, we usually hope for leftovers because, hey, cool, no cooking for the next two or three nights. :)

It might be a bit much for just one, but easier if two of you do it, or propose a taco potluck — everybody bring taco fillings.

Another thing that I've thought would be big fun to do for potluck is deviled eggs with both traditional and non-traditional fillings.

Since you mention fish, I'm just going to point out a recipe I just found yesterday and will be trying this week (definitely with the spinach): Baked Pangasius Rolls. I'm going to lightly cream the spinach and mix with sauteed red pepper and toasted almonds. Good for potluck? I don't know. I'm thinking if they are put in the oven just as everyone is arriving, or a bit afterward, since they only take 30 minutes, they'll be nice and hot as the feasting begins, and probably easy and fine to zap quickly in the microwave individually if/when they do get cold. Or maybe use a chafing dish if you want to get all fanc-ay. They just look really nice, and I like baked fish. And spinach. And they would work with a lot of different dietary restrictions.
posted by taz at 12:27 AM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Whisk together half a cup of soy sauce with 2 tablespoons of honey, a splash or two of sesame oil, the juice of a lime and two shakes of a Chinese Five Spice mix (here in Australia, it's Masterfoods brand). Add four skinless chicken breast fillets and marinate for at least half an hour (no longer than 2 hours). Fry chicken over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, baste regularly with excess marinade. Easy as hell and reheats beautifully if necessary.

Ah, here is the original recipe.

When chicken breasts are ridiculously cheap, I stock up and freeze them, and then make this once a week or so (served with rice and/or salad). People rave about it.

Home-made lasagne is always a hit. Mince is cheap (what do you call it, ground beef?).

PS: that Greasy Honky Pie made my stomach churn just reading the recipe. Do people eat that?!?
posted by malibustacey9999 at 2:19 AM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Desserts? How about this lemon drizzle cake. I make it in a loaf tin (same quantities) so that it's easier to slice and serve then freeze. It's in metric but should be easy to convert.

Who am I kidding? There's never any left over to freeze!
posted by ceri richard at 2:55 AM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

ceri, do you use the parchment lining they call for? I'd like to try this in a loaf tin, too, but don't want to mess around with lining it...
posted by taz at 3:31 AM on January 30, 2011

Response by poster: PS: that Greasy Honky Pie made my stomach churn just reading the recipe. Do people eat that?!?

Hahahaha! I'm thinking of making that next week, only with ground turkey and homemade mac & cheese (the processed orange stuff makes my head ache). It sounds delicious to me.
posted by patheral at 10:22 AM on January 30, 2011

PS: that Greasy Honky Pie made my stomach churn just reading the recipe. Do people eat that?!?

Hahahaha! I'm thinking of making that next week, only with ground turkey and homemade mac & cheese (the processed orange stuff makes my head ache). It sounds delicious to me.

That's the other fix I make to it. I first made it with all of the cheapest, most processed ingredients I could find, so I could have a baseline. It was delicious in the way that occasionally, I crave box Mac and Cheese delicious.

Slowly been subbing out bits. Homemade mac and cheese is next. The next step is to try a parsnip or perhaps a butternut squash puree on top, instead of mashed potatoes.
posted by SNWidget at 11:46 AM on January 30, 2011

Best answer: Having made, consumed, and shared the Greasy Honky Pie I can vouch for it fully. Accept it for what it is and enjoy it!
posted by WinnipegDragon at 11:10 AM on February 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'm too scared to make Greasy Honky Pie for the internationals, but I have an American pot luck coming up in two weeks. I'll try it there first and see what happens. This week, I'm gonna try the Fundamentalist Mac & Cheese from the same thread.

Or, maybe I'll grow a spine between now and then and try the Greasy Honky Pie... I have all of the ingredients. I dunno.
posted by patheral at 5:26 PM on February 1, 2011

Response by poster: BTW, I made the fundamentalist Mac & Cheese and everyone loved it. Just so's y'all know. I'm making chili this week.
posted by patheral at 9:00 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

« Older Bizarre Apache/PHP issue.   |   Question About A Georgian Film Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.