This feels like Iron Potluck
November 17, 2013 10:56 AM   Subscribe

My office does everything-but-the-bird potluck for Thanksgiving, with prizes in each category. But every year I kind of end up punting to something dumb because we have some limitations. I want to impress this year.

I would prefer to make a side dish since so many people bring desserts and bread because of the various challenges. The refrigerator will be pretty full, so I can't depend on being able to take up much space (if it was refrigerated, something I could put in stackable Gladware would probably be best), but I can bring a cooler if I have to. We have one microwave, a toaster oven, and a hot water dispenser. We do have plenty of outlets into which a crock pot can be plugged.

And it should be vegan, or portionably vegan. We have employees who have literally been able to eat nothing at some of our parties. (To be specific, I need it to be halal, but I can deal with substitutions for thickeners/alcohol/etc.)

So I need a great vegan potluck-sized side dish (or awesome appetizer, I suppose) that can either be reheated in the microwave or prepared/held all morning in a crock pot. Or, I guess, doesn't need heating at all. I can't think of anything that ticks all the boxes, especially once I have to dump it in a crock pot all morning.
posted by Lyn Never to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
This Smitten Kitchen recipe is awesome: Curried Lentils and Sweet Potatoes

I also like to make quinoa salad with a bunch of chunked up vegetables, oil and vinegar, and whatever spices go with the veggies - use avocado, tomato, cucumber and green onion? try cumin, coriander and cayenne, and use a neutralish vinegar. Use sun dried tomatoes, artichokes and bell peppers? try oregano and crushed red pepper, and use balsamic.
posted by wellred at 11:01 AM on November 17, 2013

Massaged kale salad - keeps beautifully in the fridge, raw vegan, infinite variations. It isn't a Thanksgiving-specific dish but you could make it so by adding dried cranberries and other Thanksgivingish ingredients. Search for recipes online and you'll see how many million variations there are.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:01 AM on November 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

What about vegan stuffing muffins? If you wanted to go the extra mile, you could keep a vegan gravy warm in the crock pot, and serve the two together.

You can also keep mashed potatoes (or sweet potatoes—either with the traditional cinnamon, etc. or this spicy version) warm in the crock pot.
posted by rebekah at 11:06 AM on November 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

I just made this Kitchn recipe for Rice & Mixed Greens Salad with Dates, Cashews and Chickpeas. It is the bomb and fits your requirements.
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:09 AM on November 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

Roasted brussel sprouts! You could roast them at home with some olive oil, salt and pepper and re-heat them in the toaster oven. Add a little balsamic vinegar and they will be so delicious!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:09 AM on November 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

This is a summer dish, but might go well (you could fiddle with the ingredients) because it's a cold salad, but pretty substantial: Lemon Basil Chickpea Salad.
posted by xingcat at 11:10 AM on November 17, 2013

What kinds of things have been successful in the past? Is it just deliciousness that you're going to get judged on or actual impressiveness of cooking skill?

If it's more of a deliciousness contest, can I recommend roasted brussels sprouts? Cut them in half and roast them with olive oil and salt and pepper and garlic cloves at highish heat (400-450) (start them cut side down, shake a few times during cooking) until they are beautifully browned and cooked through (30-45 minutes?). Cook them in the morning before work and serve them at room temp.

Ah! Beat to it on preview! Seriously they are so good.
posted by mskyle at 11:10 AM on November 17, 2013 [3 favorites]

For roasted brussels sprouts of the gods, prepare as above then toss with strips of roasted red pepper and a barely perceptible drizzle of maple syrup.
posted by islander at 11:22 AM on November 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is a lovely vegan recipe, good as a side dish or a main course. Chickpea and Courgette Stew (courgette = zucchini).

It's made the day before and heated up, as the flavours develop overnight.
posted by essexjan at 11:37 AM on November 17, 2013

I've just set Split Pea Dal (PDF) going in the slow cooker. You might have to put a bit of thought in to what to do about the tempering of the spices at the end, though.
posted by hoyland at 11:50 AM on November 17, 2013

I might recommend against roasted cruciferous vegetables at a work event--the chances of an awkward afternoon of sprout-smelling farts in close quarters is too high for my comfort level.

That said, kale salad is a good suggestion. I suggest dried cranberries, toasted walnuts (skillet + walnuts, sugar, salt, rosemary), chunks of roasted sweet potato (roast ahead of time, nuke to bring to room temp before serving), and some slivers of red onion.

Alternatively, I vote mushroom casserole. The original calls for milk and parm, but there's no reason you can't do it with soymilk and vegan parm. Dissolve a bouillon cube in a cup of water. Add 2T of flour, 1c milk, and 1/4c parmesan. Stir over low heat until it thickens a little bit, and then pour it over 1.5 pounds of sliced mushrooms--I use a mix of buttons and baby bellas. Mix 2c of stuffing mix with 1/2c melted margarine, and spread stuffing over the mushrooms. Bake, covered, at 350 for 30 minutes, and then uncover it and go another fifteen minutes. The topping won't be as crunchy when reheated, but it's so delicious that no one will care.
posted by MeghanC at 12:55 PM on November 17, 2013

Those stuffin' muffins rebekah linked look perfect! They look pretty nutritious but also very tasty, and they're perfect little portable portions.
posted by maudlin at 3:28 PM on November 17, 2013

This wild rice salad is so, so good and perfect for Thanksgiving. It's best served at room temp, so I'd make it the night before, chill overnight, then bring it to your office and let it come to room temp in time for the party.
posted by Empidonax at 7:00 PM on November 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I best-answered you all, because I will be coming back to this list in the future. After some discussion with the Fun Committee, it turned out that nobody had signed up to bring dressing, and my cornbread dressing easily converts to coconut milk and vegetable stock.

I had also considered brussels sprouts, and that may happen too just because I want some.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:07 AM on November 19, 2013

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