What in the world do I bring to a Presbyterian covered dish dinner?
July 26, 2013 6:49 PM   Subscribe

I have been racking my brain all week trying to figure out a main dish to bring to a Presbyterian covered dish dinner I have to go to this Sunday. Normally this would not require this much brainpower but of course, it has a theme: international. The other challenge-we are on a pretty tight budget at the moment. I need something edible, inexpensive, and with at least a tepid nod of the head to the theme.

It's a small congregation (actually a church plant) and I'd like to not embarrass myself. Bonus points if it's easy.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies to Food & Drink (31 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
I have no idea what the parameters of a covered dish dinner are, but what about a greek-style pasta salad (with cucumber, tomato, red onion if you like, katamala olives, lemon and oregano dressing)?
posted by quaking fajita at 6:51 PM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Mujaddarah is one of my favorite things in the world and it is so, so easy and cheap. Just be sure to do plenty of caramelized onions.
posted by something something at 6:56 PM on July 26, 2013 [10 favorites]

Beans and Rice? Throw in some chicken too if you want.
posted by hydra77 at 6:56 PM on July 26, 2013

Best answer: Enchilada casserole. It's properly Tex-Mex, not Mexican, but it sounds exotic and you can't go wrong with a big dish of meat and cheese - you can pick the salsa, make it as mild or spicy as your audience desires. Personally, I'm a big fan of shredded chicken and salsa verde, but anything works.
posted by restless_nomad at 6:56 PM on July 26, 2013 [3 favorites]

Peanut noodles? Pasta, peanut butter (Skippy is fine), lots of chopped garlic/ginger, tamari/soy sauce, lime, sriracha or chili sauce. Scallions and frozen peas and sesame seeds if you're into them. The only thing that needs to be fresh is the ginger but you can use garlic paste and lime juice (or skip the lime.) It's crazy easy and crazy cheap. Memail me if you'd like a more exact recipe!

Mujaddarah is AMAZING so do that if you like caramelized onions. Really good with yogurt dolloped on top.

Cuban black beans and rice? Black beans, garlic, onions, red pepper slices, chipotle in adobo sauce, cumin. Simmer forever; add a splash of vinegar. Eat with rice rice and maybe Mexican-blend cheese or sour cream.
posted by jetlagaddict at 7:00 PM on July 26, 2013 [3 favorites]

You can't go wrong with hotdish.
posted by wrok at 7:04 PM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Baked ziti! Pasta, canned sauce gravy, some cheese and generic Italian spices. There are always coupons for the main ingredients.
posted by kimberussell at 7:08 PM on July 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

Shepherd's pie - if you want to get fancy, Argentinian shepherd's pie has raisins and olives in it.
posted by bunderful at 7:08 PM on July 26, 2013

I've had success with this chicken tamale casserole: http://www.myrecipes.com/m/recipe/chicken-tamale-casserole-10000001854020/ It's a recipe with lots of "light" things in it so we played a little fast and loose with those but it came out pretty well.
posted by brilliantine at 7:11 PM on July 26, 2013

Oh and for the chicken we bought a rotisserie one and shredded it. Super easy!
posted by brilliantine at 7:12 PM on July 26, 2013

Here's the recipe I use for sesame peanut noodles. It is super easy and delicious.
posted by steinwald at 7:12 PM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hotdish is totally American, though.

This is one of my favorite ethnic-cooking-at-home recipes. It's a chicken makhani (Indian butter chicken). I think it is a crowd pleaser.

You do not need peanut oil to make it taste right, but you do need the garam masala. You can get it cheap if you have an Indian grocery nearby. The half and half/yogurt part can be subbed based on what kind of similar dairy product you have around. So if you have the other ingredients on hand, it can definitely be done on a small budget. I like to follow the tip in the reviews to crush up some cashews and use that as a thickener. I guess it just depends on what kind of stuff you already have in your spice cabinet/fridge.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 7:13 PM on July 26, 2013


If you don't need to bring a main course, homemade hummus with veggies and/or pita chips.

Pissaladière! If you have the time, the ingredients are cheap.

posted by bunderful at 7:14 PM on July 26, 2013

Another vote for shepherds pie -- very easy and inexpensive, and very traditionally British/Irish.
posted by scody at 7:15 PM on July 26, 2013

Lebanese Green Beans
Example. http://www.cooks.com/recipe/l22ui9y2/lebanese-green-beans.html

Best with fresh green beans, serve over rice. No idea on the authenticity.
posted by graxe at 7:15 PM on July 26, 2013

If you go to the spice aisle and look for those packets of McCormick seasonings, you should find a two-part package of Swedish Meatball mix. One packet seasons the ground beef; the other side seasons the milky sauce. Use 1 or 1.5 pounds of ground beef (or stretch it with bread crumbs), make the meatballs tiny cocktail-sized, and bring it in a crockpot. No need to have noodles or rice with it - it's a potluck, and it's international - someone will bring rice.

* Be really careful opening the packet. They used to be in a really long envelope side-by-side, but they changed the packaging so they are two thin plastic bags nestled inside the foil sleeve. I ended up cutting the whole thing and dumping it all in together. Horrors, I had to use my grandmother's sauce recipe.
posted by CathyG at 7:22 PM on July 26, 2013

My sister makes this thing called Mexican seven-layer salad. I doubt it's authentically Mexican, but I also doubt anyone will care. Google it (sorry, I'm on my phone); it's easy, tasty and looks impressive.
posted by Salamander at 7:31 PM on July 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

Otherwise, I was going to suggest that you get a copy of http://www.amazon.com/Foods-Foreign-Nations-Favorite-Economics/dp/0871971135, but when I look online I see that it is a single printing from 1977 and probably not widely available.

It's a great book that combines recipes from all over the world with the US Midwestern esthetic of Campbell's soup, instant pudding, Worhestershire sauce and crushed Fritos, etc. Anything in there would be perfect for a church supper with an international flair.
posted by CathyG at 7:32 PM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Actually, depending on how international it has to be, pierogies in fried onions or stuffed cabbages with ground beef would also be delicious but not expensive.
posted by jetlagaddict at 7:59 PM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

If people are exceptionally worldly, I'd probably bring a tagine (or a reasonable facsimile made without the big clay pot and preserved lemons).

If people are not exceptionally worldly, lasagna. Maybe throw in a little flair if people in your congregation are not exceptionally worldly, but too worldly for lasagna with meat sauce. Maybe spinach lasagna with a cream sauce? Or sundried tomato and basil lasagna? Pesto lasagna?
posted by Sara C. at 8:09 PM on July 26, 2013

upon reading other responses, I think homemade hummus is an awesome idea. If you've never tried making it at home, it's WAY easy and the beauty part is that you can keep tasting it and playing with the ingredients until it's perfect. Takes about 15 mins to make, if that.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 8:14 PM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

OK, on re-read I just realized this is a main dish, and hummus probably doesn't fit. But I still suggest you make it sometime, just for yourself...
posted by treehorn+bunny at 8:15 PM on July 26, 2013

We've brought this Bean Thread noodles in peanut sauce dish to quite a few covered dish suppers at churches we've been to. The first reaction is "what the hell is that", the second is "that's really good", and the third is some months later "you're bringing those weird noodles again, aren't you?".
posted by Runes at 8:35 PM on July 26, 2013 [4 favorites]

What about a quiche? I think traditional filling is bacon and swiss, but you could use any combination of items. If you think a lot of people are going to be bringing meat items, maybe you could go with spinach and swiss. This is not really a quiche recipe, but it's easy, which is what I look for in a recipe:

Alton Brown's Refrigerator Pie Recipe

Here's another recipe that I found, but I haven't actually tried:
Quiche Lorraine
posted by rakaidan at 8:41 PM on July 26, 2013

Working off of the quiche suggestion, Spanish Tortilla is even cheaper and who doesn't like potatoes and eggs?
posted by jetlagaddict at 8:55 PM on July 26, 2013

Chinese Cabbage Salad: complete with an asian-style dressing, can add red peppers and mandarin oranges if you are so inclined. I reduce the oil and it still works, can swap rice vinegar for cider if you like,
This salad has been wolfed down at every neighbourhood potluck in my remote backwater hometown.
posted by NorthernAutumn at 9:57 PM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Bobotie. A meaty, creamy, eggy, fruity Indian-spicy casserole. Half-lamb, half beef, if you can, and kaffir lime leaves on top. I'd wager no one else will bring a South African dish.
posted by mumkin at 11:05 PM on July 26, 2013

Actual suggestion:

The Frugal Gourmet's Italian cookbook has a really good recipe for pasta with walnuts -- cook some onions in a lot of olive oil, mix with bitsy-chopped walnuts, toss with cooked penne, top w/ parmesan (+ bread crumbs if you want) and brown in the oven. I can dig up the recipe if you're interested; AFAIK his books are long out of print owing to his molestation allegations. Still a good recipe though, and the only bits that are expensive are the walnuts and fancypants parmesan if you want that.

Other actual suggestion: Rotkohl.

Not actual suggestion: I triple dog dare you to show up with Greasy Honky Pie.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:32 PM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Stuffed Cabbage Casserole
posted by Lyn Never at 8:04 AM on July 27, 2013

Response by poster: Well, all the suggestions look incredibly tasty-but it seems that I just cannot get away from enchilada casserole. I was already thinking about it, a coworker suggested it, and as soon as I told my husband that someone on Metafilter had suggested it he said that that was what he was thinking of too. I've not made it before but it looks easy enough and I'm sure the Presbyterians will eat it.

Thank you to everyone, though, because since they do these covered dish things once a month, I might be coming back to this thread again and again. In other words, if you think of anything else, go ahead and add it.

I'll let y'all know how it goes.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:11 PM on July 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Oh, and one of these days I WILL come up with an excuse to make Greasy Honky Pie. I admit shamefully my husband would be all over that.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:12 PM on July 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

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