Good dishes for a potluck (difficulty level: bicycle)
May 11, 2013 9:08 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone have recommendations for good potluck dishes that can be transported by bicycle, in a backpack? A lot of things that I usually enjoy making & bringing (i.e., quiche) are out because they'd get hopelessly mangled in transit. A little bit of on-site preparation is possible, but there won't be any actual kitchen facilities at the destination.
posted by Bahro to Food & Drink (32 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
If you have a thermos, how about soup?
posted by zamboni at 9:10 AM on May 11, 2013

Any light baked item that is not super fragile. Scones, crackers, cheese straws, cookies... A hollowed boule of sourdough bread, and carry the cubed breads and some spinach dip in separate containers, then put the dip in the middle when you get there... there are a lot of options.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:11 AM on May 11, 2013

mixed salads (Greek salad)
dips (hummus, baba ghanoush)
posted by grouse at 9:12 AM on May 11, 2013

(obviously either used bought spinach dip in a sealed container, or make some, put in tupperware, put tupperware in ziploc for transit.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:12 AM on May 11, 2013

Some kind of chips and dip thing would probably work out pretty well in a backpack (given that you'd be carrying mostly air). You might consider getting a rack and bags, basket, or cargo net for your bicycle in the future, so that you can carry larger and more fragile items easily.
posted by asperity at 9:14 AM on May 11, 2013

Frittata is basically quiche with added structural vegetables, and once sliced it should stand up reasonably well to bouncing around provided you pack it in something crush-resistant like Tupperware, especially if you put enough popcorn in there with it to act like packing peanuts.
posted by flabdablet at 9:15 AM on May 11, 2013

Do you have a rack on your bike? What's your riding style? I guess what I'm asking is, how delicate is too delicate? A quiche could be fine in a good strong pie pan, wrapped up well, and nestled into a basket that would ride on the rack of your bike.

But if you're dealing with a backpack on a road bike and you ride like a demon messenger? I dunno, can you just bring a couple bottles of wine or something?

Something liquid-ish or viscous in tupperware should be OK if you have good tupperware that will withstand a hard ride. So, chili? Hummus and a pack or two of pita?

Raw veggies meant for dipping are pretty indestructable. Cheeses? Salumi?
posted by Sara C. at 9:17 AM on May 11, 2013 [3 favorites]

Rice Crispy Squares or Sculpture!
posted by Ignorance at 9:19 AM on May 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Homemade pico de gallo is delicious, healthful, takes some prep, and can be stored in a ziploc, to be transferred to a serving bowl on site.
posted by Schielisque at 9:20 AM on May 11, 2013

I used to make little veggie/bean/cheese burritos, and pack 'em tightly into a tupperware container. Somewhat indestructible, but tasty and quick hot or cold. They weren't fine dining, though — they got to be known as “frogs” by my friends 'cos they looked a bit like squished amphibians. Didn't stop them eating them.
posted by scruss at 9:32 AM on May 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Lentil salad! Bring some feta to crumble on later. Persian rice salad with scallions in a separate container.
posted by jetlagaddict at 9:33 AM on May 11, 2013

Bacon wrapped dates stuffed with goat cheese, packed into a Tupperware inside a gallon size ziploc.
posted by amaire at 9:36 AM on May 11, 2013 [4 favorites]

Sesame-peanut noodles or pasta salad. They're best at more or less room temperature, as indestructible as your plastic container, delicious, and easy to make.
posted by steinwald at 9:40 AM on May 11, 2013 [3 favorites]

Most cold or room temperature dips or spreads will travel well and you can put sliced bread in a large baggie for transit, chicken salad, tapenade, spinach, artichoke, crab,

Sliced italian deli meats - prosciutto, speck, mortadella, etc., olives, cheeses - this can be expensive though

One-bite canapes like smoked salmon rollups, prosciutto wrapped melon, beef or chicken satays, chicken wings, pinwheels, mini Vietnamese fresh spring rolls, deviled eggs (stuff on site by putting filling in baggie and piping, then sprinkle finely chopped green onion or paprika)

Potato salad, pasta salad, fruit salad

posted by shoesietart at 9:43 AM on May 11, 2013

a salad of cherry tomatoes, basil, and baby bocconcini tossed with a little olive oil and sea salt is delicious and travels easily in tupperware or even a ziploc bag, and then poured into the serving dish on site.
posted by ambrosia at 9:57 AM on May 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

I brought coleslaw in a bookbag to a cookout, via a pretty intensive road ride, just last Saturday. Put it in a tupperware container--or even one of those cheaper ones you can buy at the supermarket--and you shouldn't have any trouble bringing it.
posted by thecaddy at 10:08 AM on May 11, 2013

Sandwich/cracker spreads and a loaf of baked bread.
posted by klarck at 10:15 AM on May 11, 2013

Any sort of non-layered casserole/other food. If it's something that could get stirred and still look the same, then it's fair game. There are a variety of tall/narrow tupperware (or equivalent) containers if you're worried about a lid popping off or not sealing at the bottom.
posted by HermitDog at 10:18 AM on May 11, 2013

I'd bring something you scoop into a bowl to eat, like chili. If that gets knocked around, it doesn't matter. Or one time at a potlock someone brought this amazing quinoa mixture with vegetables in it, which was very tasty. Anything with veggies and rice or beans mixed up would work. Sorry I don't have any specific recipes I can think of.
posted by AppleTurnover at 10:33 AM on May 11, 2013

Tamales? Empanadas? Tabbouleh? Savory muffins? These could probably all make the trip intact in some sturdy Tupperware. There are some good recipes out there for stuffed bread/sandwiches which transports extremely well.
posted by rdnnyc at 11:00 AM on May 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Deviled eggs. You can keep the egg whites in one container and the filling in another and then finish stuffing them on site (don't forget to bring the paprika with you for sprinkling on top).
posted by TheCavorter at 11:03 AM on May 11, 2013

Any sort of pasta salad is easy and can go into a tupperware. Cucumber salad is easy too. Also you could make like a chex snack mix. There are tons of varieties that you can find online to really make them special - adding chocolate, popcorn, caramel, etc.

I often go to Tablespoon for good meal ideas and there are a lot of recipes for quick dishes (the Quick Dish tab) and party recipes.

(Someone noted a peanut noodle thing - which is probably delicious..but if you have anything with allergens please mark it on the tupperware - My husband has a severe peanut allergy and I'm guessing you don't know what allergies people may have at this potluck. Most people with allergies will either not eat something or ask, but it's good to label it as some kids or adults might forget to ask or eat it by mistake if it's unlabeled.)
posted by Crystalinne at 12:08 PM on May 11, 2013

I get around by bike, and go to a lot of potlucks. As Sara mentioned upthread, if you can secure a pie to a rack right side up it will survive the trip without a problem, but in a backpack. I've also transported (single layer) iced cakes this way. In the past, I've brought hearty salads like coleslaw or wheat berry salads to potlucks by packing them in large ziplocks and tossing them in my backpack with a bowl to serve it in, but that's because I have a shortage of large enough tupperware.
posted by quaking fajita at 12:15 PM on May 11, 2013

Ottolenghi chargrilled salad can be made ahead and served at room (or backpack) temperature. For best result, pack each ingredient in separate bag and combine at destination.

Also goes well with grilled fish / chicken (ideally lemon-based marinades) added.
posted by nickrussell at 12:26 PM on May 11, 2013

One of my favorite potluck dishes is baked squash - bake cubed acorn squash with diced onions and sage and black pepper for about 15-20 minutes at 350F. If I was transporting it by bike, I'd put it in a ziplock inside a tupperware inside a plastic grocery bag. If you don't have a tupperware, 2 ziplock bags inside a grocery bag would do it. It can be reheated or eaten cold.
posted by RogueTech at 12:58 PM on May 11, 2013

A potluck favorite of mine should be backpack-transportable: bean salad with black and garbanzo beans, frozen corn, red onion, and grape tomatoes. dress with olive oil, red wine vinegar, minded garlic, salt and pepper. doesn't have to be exactly this. usually quite popular
posted by at home in my head at 1:01 PM on May 11, 2013

Super easy salad suggestion.
It's frozen peas, mayonnaise, chopped smokehouse almonds and curry powder. Mix everything, except the peas, in a gallon,Ziploc bag. Use frozen peas to keep mayo mixture cold while transporting. When you arrive at the event pour peas in the bag, zip it up, mix and enjoy. All ingredients are not measured. Enjoy!
posted by jennstra at 1:34 PM on May 11, 2013

Barbecue ribs, cut into individual portions prior to cooking. It is my go-to potluck item and there should be no problem sticking it in a few Ziploc freezer bags.
posted by Michele in California at 1:37 PM on May 11, 2013

I'm also known to lean on bean salads for potlocks, usually including black and great northern beans and white shoepeg corn (crisp and sweet!) out of the can, sliced grape tomatoes, and black olives (not kalamata). For potluck bean salad dressing I swing a little Indian and pop some mustard seeds in olive oil on low heat -- this gives the oil kind of a smoky flavor -- pour that over the salad, and then chase it with balsamic vinegar.
posted by mr. digits at 6:27 PM on May 11, 2013

Order pizza and have it delivered to the event.
posted by notned at 6:16 AM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Equal parts black beans, corn, and quinoa; half a Vidalia onion sliced as thinly as you can; and lots of cumin (like, three tablespoons per gallon total volume). Toss with coarse sea salt and chopped cilantro before serving. You can "chop" the cilantro with a pair of scissors if necessary.

Sometimes I've added diced and drained tomatoes, diced sweet peppers, or minced jalapenos to good effect.
posted by d. z. wang at 10:18 PM on May 12, 2013

I have successfully transported pies and quiches on my bike, so it is possible if you've got a rack with a platform and good bungee cords and patience and your route isn't too crazy.

But more often when I'm biking to potlucks I bring one of the following:
  • A big container of my beloved pimento cheese plus celery sticks and crackers
  • Deviled eggs (I pack the filling and shells separately and stuff them there, using the ziploc bag containing the filling as an impromptu piping bag)
  • Stuffed peppers (same process as the deviled eggs)
  • This fantastic butternut squash casserole that I learned about on AskMe (I leave out the hazelnuts due to personal preference).
I have an insulated rack trunk as well as a soft-sided cooler that fits in one of my grocery panniers, so I can easily keep food cold or warm.
posted by rhiannonstone at 6:25 PM on May 13, 2013

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