What's a nice easy dish I can bring to a party?
August 15, 2011 12:46 PM   Subscribe

What can I bring to a potluck on Friday? Something easy and fast and not too scary to actually assemble. Oh, and can keep for two days.

Soooo I'm going to a potluck party on Friday. I always bring brownies to potlucks because I can't cook. I mean, I can cook in that I make dinner for myself each night (pasta, soups, salads, simple meat dishes, etc) but I've never made a DISH per se that can be enjoyed by a bunch of people.

So I need a simple recipe for a nice dish. HOWEVER, the only chance I'll have to cook it is Wednesday so it has to be something that can chill in my fridge for two days. Maybe a pasta salad? Or a quiche? Neither of which I've ever made but... sound easy in theory.

All suggestions welcome! As long as there's no mushrooms. Or beans. Thanks!
posted by silverstatue to Food & Drink (23 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Keep it simple: bring a tossed veggie salad (assembled just before the potluck) with two dressings: ranch and vinaigrette.
posted by parilous at 12:52 PM on August 15, 2011

Oh, oh oh!!!

bacon, tomato and avocado salad :) the prep is really easy, and this can literally be prepared on the spot with all the ingredients.

1) bake the bacon in an oven (it's a ton easier). toss this in a fridge until you need it for the pot luck

day of:
2) chunk up about 4 avocados
3) cut up about 3 plump and happy tomatoes
4) cut up the bacon into small chunks
5) add some good olive oil for yumminess
7) maybe some extra spices (greek seasoning, ...)

8) EAT!!!!
posted by zombieApoc at 12:53 PM on August 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

I love a curried quinoa salad for this - here's an example, but there seem to be lots of variations on the net. Super-easy to put together, stores well (and in fact gets better after a couple of days in the fridge), addicitively delicious, and (bonus) will please vegetarians, if there are any at your party.
posted by smilingtiger at 1:03 PM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Do you have a food processor? Salsa di Parmagiano is positively *crack-like* in fabulousness, and it actually tastes better after a day or two so all the flavors get intermingled.

Bring that and a loaf of bread for people to spread it on, and you're good.
posted by rmd1023 at 1:04 PM on August 15, 2011 [11 favorites]

Here is what I have learned after many potlucks: you don't need to worry about feeding everyone there. Since everyone is bringing a dish, in theory there would be plenty of food if everyone only cooked enough for one. Of course, some people don't bring something, and some people just bring a beverage, and lots of people are going to want to try a small bit of your dish -- so it's a good idea to cook for more than one person. But you can relax a bit and cook what you'd normally cook for yourself and a few friends.

There's some great suggestions here, but I bet you've got something in your repertoire that you can whip up quickly and that tastes great. You probably don't need to alter it too much for a potluck. Also, potlucks can be a difficult place to test out new recipes.
posted by cubby at 1:07 PM on August 15, 2011

My goto, handed down from my grandmother and mother: Pea Salad. Yes, not everyone likes peas, but very easy, and really no cooking, just refrigerating.

Similar to these recipies:


I don't know that the recipe has ever been written down in our family. We usually don't use the celery, and the eggs are a bonus.

Red Onion (if you have it for the color)
LeSeur Peas (our family's choice)
Bacon Bits (just a jar of the 'real' bits off the shelf usually)
Mayo (or Miracle Whip)
A spoon or two of sugar sprinkled
Grated Parm (your favorite green can from the fridge)

Just layer them, let it sit overnight, toss it all up before serving. The next day it's even better.
posted by pupdog at 1:12 PM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Broccoli Slaw - wicked easy, and really good. And best after it hangs out in the fridge for a day or two.

Two or three bags of broccoli slaw from the prepared salad section of your grocery store
A few handfuls of sunflower seeds
A bunch of thinly-chopped scallions
A package or two of ramen noodles
A half a cup of oil
A half a cup of vinegar

Put the broccoli slaw mix, the sunflower seeds, the scallions, and well-crunched ramen noodles into a big tupperware (or whatever you'll be using to serve it from).

Mix up the oil, vinegar, and ramen noodle flavoring, pour it over the mix, and stir everything together. You can add a few more squirts of vinegar.

Let it sit for a day or so so that the ramen noodles can soak up the oil and vinegar flavoring.

Seriously, it's the easiest thing to make and people always love it when I bring it to potlucks,
posted by ChuraChura at 1:20 PM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Here is a pasta salad recipe that I promise is easy.

You need:

2 pounds of cheese tortellini (you can use frozen if you want -- if you get different-colored tortellini, it'll also look cool)
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
2 carrots
2 leeks
2 cucumbers
1 bottle of any kind of viniagrette salad dressing you want

Let's take care of the vegetables and get them out of the way first. Put 2 big pots of water on the stove to come to a boil. Then, peel and slice the carrots; put them aside. Then take the leeks, cut off the green part and the roots, and take the big white part and cut that into pieces like you were making carrot sticks out of them. Make them no more than 2 inches long, and make them skinny "carrot sticks." Put those with the carrots; you won't have to do anything with them until the water boils.

While you're waiting for the water to boil, cut the green pepper and the red pepper into strips about 2 inches long, and then peel and cut the cucumber into chunks the same size as the tortellini. Dump all that into a big bowl.

When both pots of water are boiling, here's where things move a little fast.

POT A: That's for the carrots and leeks. Dump them all in, and boil them for ONLY one minute. Then drain them, run them under cold water, and dump them in the big bowl.

POT B: That's for the tortellini. Cook that according to the directions on the package, then drain, run under cold water, and dump that in the bowl.

Stir everything up, add about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the viniagrette, stir again, and you're set.

If you really want to get fancy, get a few sprigs of basil as well, strip off about 10-15 leaves, cut them into strips, and stir that into the pasta salad too.

(Note: this is adapted from a Silver Palate recipe I've been all but living off of recently.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:20 PM on August 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

Pasta salad is super easy and not only lasts for two days but tastes better as well. If you're really busy:

Cook pasta
Add chopped onion, olives, green peppers, red peppers, crumbled feta, fresh tomatoes
Toss with an italian dressing

If you want to impress, use Giada's recipe. It's totally worth it.

The other thing I tend to make with huge raves (and is super easy)

Cube watermelon. Add crumbled feta and chopped mint. Toss. Super tasty.
posted by Sophie1 at 1:21 PM on August 15, 2011 [3 favorites]

Baked ziti is delicious, easy to make, keeps well and feeds a TON of people.

1 lb ground beef or italian sausage (I buy spicy, but mild works too)
1 box of ziti pasta
1 jar of spaghetti sauce (I like Newman's Own Sockarooni)
2 cups of shredded mozzarella or italian blend cheese

Preheat the oven to 350.
-Cook the meat. I add an onion and 2-3 cloves of garlic if I have it, no big deal if you don't. Drain the meat and set aside.
-Cook the pasta al dente - it will cook in the oven so don't over-boil. Drain and toss with the meat and the jar of spaghetti sauce.
-Put pasta mixture into a 2 qt. casserole dish (those disposable aluminum kinds with the lids are perfect for potlucks).
-Top with the cheese, cover with foil and bake for a half hour. Remove cover for last ten minutes of baking so the cheese browns.
posted by jacindahb at 1:30 PM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

ooh, loving these pasta salad recipes so far! keep 'em coming!

No food processor, alas :(
posted by silverstatue at 1:31 PM on August 15, 2011

Southwest Black Bean Salad

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can corn, drained
1 green or red pepper, chopped fine
1 lime
1 tsp ground cumin

Dump the contents of the cans into a bowl, add the pepper and cumin. Squeeze the lime over top, maybe add some zest if you really like limes. Salt and pepper to taste. Will live for several days and just gets better as the flavours meld.
posted by LN at 1:37 PM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

You could make a strata. It's basically an egg and bread casserole that you can put any ingredients you like into. It needs to soak in the fridge a bunch (could soak a whole day) and then it's great cold or room temperature.

The recipe I linked to above is cheese and sausage, but I put all different kind of veggies and meats -- really you can put whatever takes to the oven well in this thing. Raw meats you just have to cook in advance and then cool down, but if you want to make a vegetarian version, you can just put the veggies in raw (just chop them kind of small so they cook through). My experience is that these are huge hits at potlucks.
posted by Kimberly at 1:43 PM on August 15, 2011

Is there some reason you don't want to make brownies or cookies or mini cupcakes or something? I always bake for potlucks, and it's always really popular because I am generally the only person who bakes stuff, and homemade desserts are delicious.
posted by jeather at 1:44 PM on August 15, 2011

Cowboy Caviar is a chunky dip or salad based on canned foods, super easy, no cooking. The most labor intensive part is chopping an onion, some bell peppers, herbs and opening cans:

1 diced onion (any kind, maybe even green onions for a milder flavor.)
1-2 bell peppers, diced also (variety of colors)
Optional: coarsely chopped celery
Canned hominy (the puffy white corn, look for it with the mexican imported foods)
1-3 kinds of canned beans (pintos, black beans, garbanzos, black-eyed peas all work well)
Canned sliced olives
Chopped up cilantro and/or parsley

Mix all up in a big bowl and dress with olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper and maybe a little cumin. Serve with chips (the tostitos scoops are perfect in this situation) or as a salad.
posted by dahliachewswell at 1:50 PM on August 15, 2011

You should make this scary-sounding but not-at-all-difficult-in-reality sesame cured broccoli.

There is some kind of magic alchemy that happens between the garlic, cumin, and sesame oil. It's absolutely crazy delicious and super-unusual. It's difficult to tell what the spicing is if you don't know; it's just OMG SO GOOD. It doesn't taste strongly ethnic, so it goes with anything; is a nice change from the usual broccoli salads, and only improves with a day or two in the fridge. The most difficult part is chopping up the broccoli. People will scrape the bowl clean.

Seriously, make this.
posted by peachfuzz at 1:52 PM on August 15, 2011 [12 favorites]

Jeather, I was just speaking to the host and she's super worried that everyone is just going to bring booze. I can easily bring a desert plate also, but she specifically requested I bring some kind of "real food".
posted by silverstatue at 1:53 PM on August 15, 2011

Greek salad. People love it, and it's easy. I cut up cherry tomatoes, bell peppers (red, yellow or orange), cucumbers and onions. Cut a block of feta cheese into cubes (you can crumble it, but I don't like it this way as much) and throw in whatever kind of olives you like. Dressing is olive oil, lemon, salt, pepper and oregano to taste. It tastes better if you mix the dressing in and let it sit in the fridge. For added protein, cut up some supermarket rotisserie chicken and mix it in with the salad.
posted by lemonwheel at 3:23 PM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Are you required to cook a dish? Or just bring food.

I go to potlucks all the time. I also have Spastic Paraparesis which sometimes makes cooking impossible, and even if I do cook, traveling with said cooked item is inconvenient because I also don't drive.

No one has yet to complain when I show up with fresh bread from the local artisan bakery, sometimes with or without good hummus dip from the store. Sometimes I even bring little baby carrots. No cooking on my part, easy to transport, and the bread may go well with some of the other dishes.

(However, there is one potluck I attend where the dishes are required to be homemade; I just stick around and help clean up afterwards instead as my 'contribution').
posted by spinifex23 at 5:38 PM on August 15, 2011

* pearl couscous salad with golden raisins, craisins, dried cherries, nuts (whatever is lying around), chopped herbs and 1/2 bottle of a citrus vinaigrette;
* shrapnel dip which is 1 can of corn, 1 can of black beans, 1 can of black eyed peas, chopped red onion, tomatoes and avocado tossed with bottled Italian dressing -- cowboy caviar is a variant of this. Be sure to use lime flavored tortilla chips like Tostitos to accompany said dip;
* phyllo or puff pastry wrapped wheel of brie -- all you need is commercial puff pastry or phyllo thawed; a wheel of brie; bunch of nuts; jar of jelly or preserves. Just top brie wheel with nuts; jelly and wrap in phyllo and heat for 20 minutes. Serve with bread;
* smoked fish mixed with cream cheese, sour cream and some dried herbs -- many breads and crackers to accompany;
* chicken wings cooked with 3:3:1 of olive oil, red wine vinegar (any good vinegar will do) and dark soy sauce (I prefer Pearl River Bridge, but roll with what you got). Toss your poultry with lots of shallots and garlic and the sauce mix before roasting/baking

There is also, Greasy Honky Pie but that maybe too heavy a dish for summer.
posted by jadepearl at 6:28 PM on August 15, 2011

Fortunately it's summer (in the Northern Hemisphere, at least) which means two of the most delicious foods on earth are available: tomatoes and peaches.

Get some excellent roma or beefsteak tomatoes and some excellent not-too-soft peaches in equal amounts (which is to say, an equal yield--you might need four small tomatoes and two huge peaches, but you get the drift). dice them into, oh, large bite-sized chunks. Salt and pepper lightly and put them in a colander to drain some of the juice off, but not all of it--the juice is going to be the dressing. Toss them into a bowl with crumbled blue cheese, feta, or goat cheese (not too much--a couple of heaping tablespoons will do for a big bowl of salad). Top with a handful of chopped scallions. If meat is OK, some crumbled crisp bacon would also be lovely.

As a variation, chop everything really small and use it to top toasted ovals of french bread. Voila: bruschetta.
posted by thinkingwoman at 7:26 PM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Meatballs---not only keeps well, but tastes even better after a day or two, also the simplest recipe ever:

1. Box of frozen meatballs (90 to 120 count).
2. Jar of grape jelly
3. Jar of chili sauce
...and if you wish
4. Lemon juice (a couple of tablespoons)

In the crockpot (or stove top if you wish):
Mix grape jelly and chili sauce, lemon juice, pour over the meatballs, mix, turn the crock pot on, done.

Always a hit at pot lucks, particularly kids.
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 8:07 PM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

In case anyone is wondering, I ended up making chocolate covered strawberries and a caprese salad. Both were super easy and fast to do. But I will keep this bookmarked for future parties!
posted by silverstatue at 1:29 PM on September 15, 2011

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