5 Easy Potluck Dishes
The best potlucks make you want to taste a little bit of everything, including all those homemade desserts. We at Pottery Barn understand that a busy lifestyle might mean your stopping by the grocery store for your potluck contribution, rather than making your grandmother’s casserole. That’s why we’re excited to share five easy potluck dishes to add to your repertoire!
Easy Appetizer – Well-Appointed Cheese Board
If you don’t want to cook, a well-appointed cheese board makes for more elegant potluck fare than a bag of chips and salsa. Most supermarkets have a specialty cheese department. Pick a few different kinds of cheeses, creating a variety plate of hard, soft and spreadable cheeses - such as camembert, gorgonzola, aged cheddar and gruyere. Balance a strongly flavored cheese, like a cranberry white cheddar, with more familiar choices, like edam or gouda. Place a bundle of seedless grapes along the side of the board and the appropriate cheese knife in each block of cheese. Arrange a variety of crackers on a serving tray.
Easy Salad – Restaurant-Worthy Kale and Beet Salad
A favorite in health-conscious restaurants, this salad is much easier to make than you might expect. Empty a bag of prepackaged trimmed kale in a large serving bowl. In a small bowl or sealed jar, whisk 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, the juice of one fresh lemon (about 1/4 cup), 2 crushed garlic cloves, a teaspoon of Dijon mustard and salt and pepper to taste. The mustard acts as an emulsifier to bind the ingredients together. Mix the dressing thoroughly into the leaves. If you are feeling particularly ambitious, you can massage the leaves with the dressing. This softens the leaves and brings out the flavors. Cut a whole beet into chunks. Consider using vacuum-packed beets, which have a sweeter flavor than canned beets. Sprinkle a small container of crumbled feta or grated Parmesan on top and crushed walnuts or slivered almonds.
Easy Side Dish – Garlicky Russian Carrot Salad
Leave the green bean casserole for Thanksgiving because the wonderful garlic flavor of this Russian salad makes it a perfect potluck side dish. Peel and grate two or three carrots into a bowl. You can either use a cheese grater or a food processor. Grate your favorite white cheese into the same bowl. Cheeses such as jack, edam, havarti and white cheddar all work well. Add one crushed garlic clove and mix with one teaspoon of mayonnaise and two tablespoons of sour cream. Although plain yogurt can be substituted, we don’t recommend Greek yogurt. Salt to taste. The longer this salad is refrigerated, the more the garlic flavor blossoms. Top with a sprig of flat-leafed parsley for a colorful presentation.
Easy Main Dish – Quick Tortellini and Chicken
This dish can be kept warm in a slow cooker or a covered bowl wrapped in a towel. Boil a large pot of water. Add a bag of frozen cheese tortellini and chopped frozen broccoli florets (or frozen asparagus spears) to the pot. Cook for a few minutes on medium until the tortellini are tender. Drain and keep in a mixing bowl. In the same pot, heat a jar of Alfredo sauce and a package of frozen cooked diced chicken. Add garlic powder and black pepper to taste. Carefully return the tortellini and vegetables to the pot with the sauce and heat until warmed.
Easy Dessert – Personalized Brownies
Brownies are always a potluck hit. Boxed mixes offer many varieties, but that shouldn’t stop you from adding your own personal touch. Here’s a trick to give your store-bought mix brownies a fresh-from-the-bakery texture. Whisk the eggs until they’re foamy and then gently stir in the brownie mix. Another way to personalize your brownies is to spoon lines of raspberry jam across the batter, making sure each potential piece will have a line of jam in it. Chocolate chips, pecans, coconut shavings and fresh berries make tasty additions, as does your favorite frosting. Place the cooled and portioned brownies on a platter with some fresh strawberries for a classic and always welcome potluck dessert.