What to bring to my daughter's school's Thanksgiving potluck?
November 14, 2018 4:33 AM   Subscribe

What dish should I bring to my daughter's school's Thanksgiving potluck for the teachers?

My daughter's school is having a Thanksgiving potluck next Tuesday. Her teacher, who is also our very close friend and who knows I love to cook (and has been the beneficiary of that hobby many times) was strongly hinting that the sign-up sheet had already been taken care of in terms of kid-friendly Thanksgiving foods (corn muffins and fruit salad and chicken nuggets or whatever) and that I should focus my energies on something that the staff would enjoy instead.

So now obviously my mission is to craft something so mind-blowingly good that they have to let school out a day early next week just to give everybody time to readjust to reality. But what should I cook? Ideally the dish would be:

- Very much on theme for USA Thanksgiving (although I'm open to alternatives)
- Savory (although again I'm open here)
- Relatively easy to portion and eat in a hectic elementary school setting. Finger-food would be the gold standard here but definitely isn't required.
- Made from ingredients that can be readily sourced from an above-average American grocery store (Publix)
- Easy to transport.
- Fine to eat cold.

I wake up relatively early (5:30-6ish usually) and don't typically get her to school until around 8:30 so I'd have around an hour and a half of potential cooking time that morning, otherwise at least some of the work would need to be completed the night before.

Hit me!
posted by saladin to Food & Drink (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Spanakopita. Some folks may not consider it 100% on theme, but the flavors do meld well.
posted by metasarah at 4:52 AM on November 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

I would recommend this. My husband makes this for Thanksgiving it the best dip I've ever had
posted by Attackpanda at 4:53 AM on November 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

I was going to say Spanakopita too! A similar thing would be to fill little squares of puff pastry with umami thanksgiving-y flavors (off the top of my head I’d probably do sautéed mushrooms and onion and sage and maybe some goat cheese.) Small bites, not too kid friendly, yummy, easy to make the night before, fine at room temp.
posted by tchemgrrl at 5:05 AM on November 14, 2018 [4 favorites]

An incredible cheese plate with delicious relishes and Marcona almonds.
posted by Miko at 5:23 AM on November 14, 2018 [6 favorites]

Roast butternut squash or Brussels sprouts. Both are especially good with pancetta, but American bacon is also excellent. Room temp is still tasty.
posted by theora55 at 5:24 AM on November 14, 2018 [6 favorites]

My recommendation would be for something:

1) savory
2) warm but not too hot, presented in a crock pot or immediately next to a microwave with reheating instructions
3) can be eaten out of an 8 oz paper hot cup with a spoon or fork (plates are complicated, cups are great)
4) has vegetables
5) is a food-food and not a snack

So something like a warm quinoa salad, like with sweet potato or carrot and some greens or something I think would be great and so appreciated.

If cheese is a component, have cheese as an optional add on the side.

My mom was a teacher for 40 years and this is exactly the kind of thing I can see her raving about. ("The third grade classroom only had nuggets and cupcakes, but Ruby's mom made the fourth grade classroom warm quinoa salad. All the other teachers kept poking their heads in trying to get leftovers.")
posted by phunniemee at 5:25 AM on November 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

Make a tray or a pot of your favorite stuffing with autumnal additions such as mushrooms, sauteed apples, etc. to turn it into a mini main dish or casserole rather than a side.
posted by BibiRose at 5:31 AM on November 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

I like theoraa55's idea of roasted butternut squash, and could you make it a finger food by putting it on toothpicks? I often bring caprese skewers to potlucks (grape tomato, basil, and fresh mozzarella splashed with olive oil, balsamic, and salt/pepper) and I think they go quickly mostly because they are on toothpicks and easy to eat. I can't vouch for this recipe specifically, but this is along the lines of what I'm picturing.
posted by slmorri at 5:42 AM on November 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

How about dinner-roll sized sandwiches? E.g., roasted squash, cranberries, mesclun mix, optionally a slice of turkey or meatloaf, on an onion roll, secured with a big toothpick. If there's a sauce, like gravy or mayonnaise, put it on the bread next to the mesclun mix, not next to the meat. The surface area of the mesclun mix will help hold the sauce in place and reduce drips.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 6:04 AM on November 14, 2018 [3 favorites]

A spread of "leftovers" with all the condiments to make a fabulous leftover turkey sandwich

Most of it would be bought (deli turkey, cranberry, bread/buns (those little dinner buns would be perfect), mayo) and then make a pan of stuffing to go with it, Stuffing actually works really well in a crockpot kept on low.
posted by Ftsqg at 6:07 AM on November 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

In your situation, I would make mini galettes (this one with caramelized onions and butternut squash is one of my favorite recipes this time of year. I sub in goat cheese for the fontina since it's easier to find where I am). Maybe bake them in a muffin tin? You can make all the components a day or two ahead and then assemble and bake that morning. They're good at room temp and will definitely read as fancy!
posted by Empidonax at 6:38 AM on November 14, 2018 [6 favorites]

I'm liking the "cheese board" idea. You won't have to actually cook or bake anything, it's all a matter of "buy things, unwrap them and put them on a plate." So it'd be a time-saving and labor-saving move as well.

But if you still want to bake something, then maybe add some gougeres - these are savory cheese puffs, made by simply folding grated cheese into choux paste dough. They can be made ahead and reheated, they can be served warm or at room temperature, and they're pretty easy. I've made them repeatedly. (The kids may dip into the cheese puffs, is the only problem, since they may look a little like donut holes.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:22 AM on November 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

It's not super-Thanksgiving-y, but we always have appetizers for our Thanksgiving and stuffed mushrooms are always a big hit. We do them with sausage stuffing, but maybe for any vegans that might be partaking, you could adapt a sagey cornbread stuffing to fill them? I would also think that mushrooms might be a deterrent to the kids...
posted by sarajane at 8:15 AM on November 14, 2018

I really want to try these: Turkey and Stuffing Meatballs! Throw them in a crockpot and send along some gravy and/or cranberry sauce.
posted by hydra77 at 8:29 AM on November 14, 2018

I make Stuffin Muffins with dried cranberries added in. Easy to make/transport/eat.

Alternatively, you could do some version of a chicken pot pie, or if you are so inclined individual pot pies.
posted by vignettist at 8:41 AM on November 14, 2018

This massaged kale salad is my go-to potluck dish. For color, I'd maybe sub in mandarin oranges or pomegranate seeds. It is easy, it travels well, it's a nice counterpoint to all the kid-friendly fair.
posted by snickerdoodle at 9:08 AM on November 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

Stuffed mushrooms are always on my family's thanksgiving table.

How about baked macaroni and cheese?
posted by mmascolino at 10:02 AM on November 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

No idea if you have access to aubergines but imam bayildi is a naughty, tasty dish of divine decadence. It's so rich and indulgent, surely this counts as being on theme? You can serve it at room temperature and it's great the next day too. As luck would have it, it's also vegetarian and you can easily turn it vegan. Loads of recipes online.
posted by mkdirusername at 10:04 AM on November 14, 2018

These roasted sweet potato rounds with goat cheese salad on top are absolutely delicious, good served at any temperature and are finger foods. I also like them because they are unexpected but still contain so Thanksgiving-y ingredients (pecans, sweet potatoes, dried cranberries). You can make them up the day before but don't add the vinaigrette until the day of.
posted by Saminal at 10:37 AM on November 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'd buy some of those premade filo cups from the freezer section of the grocery--they're about mini-muffin sized, maybe a bit smaller, and not too expensive. Fill them with roasted (tiny) cubes of butternut squash, browned sage sausage, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds or toasted pecans, and tiny crumbles of goat, blue, or feta cheese. You can do some without sausage and others without nuts/seeds to maximize how many people will be willing to eat them.

You can chop the squash and toast the pecans ahead of time, and in the morning, just toss the squash with a little olive oil and roast until it's golden brown. While that's in the oven, do the sausage on the stovetop, breaking it into the smallest pieces possible, and then assemble it all. This isn't great cold, but assuming you drain the sausage well, it's great at room temp.
posted by mishafletch at 4:07 AM on November 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

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