Room-Temperature Winter/Autumn Potluck Dish
December 9, 2014 12:05 PM   Subscribe

I need a dish for a potluck for work lunch on Thursday. I don't do potlucks well anyway, but now I have to figure out a dish that I can cook (or assemble) Wednesday night, bring in to work at 8am on Thursday, and serve for Thursday lunch. We have refrigerators but no stove or oven. There is a small microwave. I will not have time to go out and get something during the day before the lunch, as the potluck is following a mandatory meeting, and most stores will be closed that morning before I get to work.

I am a good cook, but I am really annoyed at required potlucks, so something fairly simple would probably make me less cranky. Someone's already bringing a green salad. I've looked through past questions but all the room-temperature suggestions were for very summery dishes.
posted by jaguar to Food & Drink (29 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Deviled eggs are simple, should be served cold, and scream "December Potluck" to me, especially when liberally dosed with paprika.
posted by muddgirl at 12:11 PM on December 9, 2014

Best answer: Dead simple and great at room temp or even cold: edamame beans tossed with red wine vinegar and dijon mustard.

Or can you bring a dessert? Any cake or cookies or whatever are fine at room temp.
posted by BlahLaLa at 12:11 PM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

Sesame noodles. Do all the prep the night before but don't toss the noodles with the sauce until just before serving.
posted by workerant at 12:13 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Dip is made for this. Hummus, 7-layer bean dip, onion dip...whatever you got. Add fancy dipping substrates-- veg or chips. It's as healthy as you want it to be and can be adapted for vegan/gluten free as needed, and the prep is minimal and can be done a day before.
posted by blnkfrnk at 12:15 PM on December 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

Kale/Roasted Veg Salad (this recipe serves it warm, but I make variations on this all the time and it is totally just as delicious out of the fridge)

Pie - apple, pumpkin, sweet potato, chocolate-pudding, etc.

Pasta salad w/ cherry tomatoes, mozz cubes, and pesto

Spreads with crackers - tapenade, hummus, baba ganoush, etc
posted by melissasaurus at 12:18 PM on December 9, 2014

Here's what I'm making for my own upcoming potluck for work lunch: Mark Bittman's potato salad with mustard vinaigrette.

It only has a half-dozen ingredients, including potatoes, and no known allergens -- plus it always tastes better at room temperature after a night in the fridge.
posted by divined by radio at 12:24 PM on December 9, 2014

Do you have a crockpot? How about something that you can assemble in the crock pot Wednesday evening, then plug in and turn on at work on Thursday morning?
posted by jbickers at 12:25 PM on December 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

Can you just bring a baguette and chevre plus maybe an alternate spread? I actually organize (got stuck with it when I came onboard, haven't had the heart to stick anyone else with it) a large, optional potluck at work, and when people want to eat but not to bring* I usually suggest nice bread and a spread or two. It always goes over well. Just bring a nice plate and something to slice the bread with.

*which is a lot of people! and it's frustrating - you don't want to bring, don't show up and eat, there isn't enough food!
posted by Frowner at 12:26 PM on December 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

Seconding the crockpot idea. Or a plate of mezes/antipasti? (for me that's year-round food, ymmv)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:27 PM on December 9, 2014

One of those autumnal grain salads would be nice, I think, and they're always better for sitting around for a long time, too. I've had this one which was quite good, possibly because it's also rather simple. I'm finding plenty of ideas by searching "autumn grain salad [ingredient]" where [ingredient] is something I think sounds good, like currants or mushrooms or parsnips.
posted by Mizu at 12:28 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

For these work potlucks, I tend to bring a savory salad with a fruit ingredient. I took this salad to a work potluck just today, and it was a big hit. You will need time to visit a grocery store, unless you happen to stock wheat berries and dried figs on hand. I subbed out the almonds for pumpkin seeds, just for the hell of it.
posted by Liesl at 12:33 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Seconding "bread and spread"/"chips and dip". Prep is: buy two things, bring two bowls, dump.

Obv, you can get a bit fancier, but baguettes and olive oil, or tortilla chips and salsa are just fine.

Easy fancier: three choices of salsa, a/o guacamole from the prepared dishes aisle.
Next-level: Stir sour cream into a hot salsa, and insist it's your own recipe. Hide the bottle.

posted by IAmBroom at 12:33 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is what I am bringing to my mandatory potluck:
posted by avocado_of_merriment at 12:38 PM on December 9, 2014

Best answer: You may want to save it for another occasion if you are looking for super simple (though it isn't a hard recipe), but this French Lentil and Vegetable Salad is fantastic.
posted by cecic at 12:43 PM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: No crockpot or other electronic cooking appliances. I'm loving the suggestions so far, more certainly welcome!
posted by jaguar at 12:47 PM on December 9, 2014

How about tzatziki or one of its many relatives? Simple to make, quality ingredients alone can make it stand out, and it's a great accompaniment to a wide variety of other dishes, including as a dressing for that green salad.
posted by XMLicious at 12:47 PM on December 9, 2014

Close to a green salad, but different enough: massaged kale salad with dried cranberries and toasted almond slivers.

Clean 2-3 bunches of kale, tear into bite size pieces. Add a good portion of olive oil, juice from a couple lemons, salt, pepper, garlic power and a nice squeeze of agave nectar or plain sugar. Massage the kale like it's your high school sweetheart then add a good half cup or more each of dried cranberries and toasted almond slivers. Serves great at room temperature, perfectly seasonal, simple and delicious!
posted by slogger at 12:50 PM on December 9, 2014

Crockpot - you can get mini-sausages, like Lil smokies, and make a sauce with a jar of currant jelly and a can of tomato sauce. Let it simmer all morning.

No crockpot - noodles in peanut/ sesame sauce are a terrific idea.
posted by theora55 at 12:54 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

This autumn rice salad looks really good. If it were me, I'd add cooked-and-cooled edamame to it.
posted by jbickers at 12:59 PM on December 9, 2014

Snickers salad.
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:00 PM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'd do a pasta salad with salami and cheese, dressed with a vinaigrette. It's hearty, will be GREAT at room temperature and is pretty easy to throw together.

Fusili Pasta
Salami in matchsticks
Cheese in matchsticks
Artichoke hearts
Grape Tomatoes

I wouldn't fuss with anything over and above.

You could do cheese tortellini without meats too. If you wanted a vegetarian item.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:36 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have a go-to recipe that I like a lot and is dead simple and can be reheated in a small microwave.

Take a butternut squash and cut into 1" cubes, reserve seeds
Sprinkle with maple syrup, garam masala and olive oil. Stir, put into a baking pan
Bake in a 400 degree oven for about an hour.
If you want to mix it up, add sweet potato chunks with slightly different seasoning (nutmeg?)
Put in festive bowl, garnish with toasted seeds (toast separately, this is also simple) or sesame seeds if you wan tot add crunch

That's it. It looks nice, most people will like it, you can reheat it, you will not give anyone food poisoning
posted by jessamyn at 1:58 PM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

Apple crisp is easy and good at room temp. Bring along a can of whipped cream to top.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 2:50 PM on December 9, 2014

At Thanksgiving my aunt made Smitten Kitchen's winter fruit salad and it was amazing. Slice the apples and pears very thin. Would be great for a potluck!
posted by radioamy at 3:54 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: You have all made me excited about potlucks, which hasn't happened in at least eight years. Thank you!!!!!

Edamame with vinegar and dijon
was absolutely the right answer for me and the question I actually asked, and then I read cecic's linked recipe for French lentil and vegetable salad and (a) felt uncranky about the potluck for the first time since it was announced, and (b) realized that because I grew up in a family where feeding people = love, I was feeling bad about not wanting to put at least a little bit of effort into the dish. That salad is the perfect amount of effort for me, and it looks really really good. Plus it'll use up the Brussels sprouts I bought the other day and forgot to cook.

All the rest of you made me realize how totally boring I've become in preparing fall and winter vegetables (and fruits!) for dinner, and I will be trying out a lot of these recipes for myself.
posted by jaguar at 6:18 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yay! I usually get my French Lentils at Whole Foods. Just make sure you don't use regular lentils as they get mushy. French or Beluga lentils stay whole. I also like extra balsamic vinegar in it, but I'm a vinegqr lovers hope you enjoy it!
posted by cecic at 9:00 PM on December 9, 2014

Response by poster: Yep, French (green) lentils purchased from the bulk-food section of the local fancy-ish market. I actually managed to buy a double portion of all the ingredients for $12 (not including anything for the dressing, as I have those ingredients already), which is exactly my daily lunch budget, so that was a bonus.
posted by jaguar at 9:15 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: So the potluck was canceled, as was work, due to the weather, but I made the salad for myself this morning. I was a little disappointed when I ate it at first; after seven hours of sitting in the fridge, however, it's wonderful. It's my new favorite canceled-potluck food.
posted by jaguar at 7:05 PM on December 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

posted by IAmBroom at 10:17 AM on December 12, 2014

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