Failproof dishes that turn you into the top chef at the party.
The potluck dinner party has enduring mass appeal—whether it’s in the church basement, the neighbor’s yard, or at the book club’s holiday gathering. (We’re willing to wager this dates back to the cavemen: “You hunt. I gather. Let’s meet at sundown on the banks of the Euphrates.”) A potluck not only has something for (and from) everyone, but it is also among the most budget-friendly ways to feed a lot of people. “Potlucks give us the chance to get together with our loved ones, often in the open air, with very little fuss or work,” says Ksenia Prints from At the Immigrant’s Table, a blog that spotlights immigrants’ journeys and delicious family recipes. “Each person brings their favorite dish, and the resulting meal is a vibrant and diverse reflection of the tastes, personalities, and backgrounds of each of the participants.” Here are six timeless recipes to consider bringing to your next potluck, and a few tips for planning a fun, easy dinner:
Here’s a mind bend for you: Hummus doesn’t have to be just about chickpeas. “This dip is a unique take that replaces chickpeas with black-eyed peas and makes for a vibrant, beautiful presentation,” Prints says. (Bonus points if you bring this to a New Year’s Day potluck dinner, since eating black-eyed peas on January 1 is supposed to bring you prosperity.) If you’re hosting, remember that guests may feel encouraged and relieved—not offended—if you assign them a dish or even a particular recipe, she adds.
Let the gluten-free folks enjoy something a little more indulgent than a joyless quinoa salad or floppy celery sticks—and unveil this tasty quick bread. “This cheesy gluten-free cornbread with red chili and cheddar is sweet, spicy, and redolent with the heat and scents of authentic Mexican cuisine,” Prints says. As pleasantly peppery as this bread is, Prints warns against bringing any dish that’s overly spicy: “You don’t want kids or people with sensitive palettes to find themselves with their mouths unexpectedly on fire,” she says. And don’t be the guest whose dish needs to go into the oven or hog a shelf in the fridge. “It adds hassle and takes the fun out of the impromptu atmosphere of a potluck,” she says.
It’s okay, boo—not everyone was meant to cook. But just because you’re stove-averse doesn’t mean you have to languish in the “bring napkins and paper cups” potluck category. You, friend, can bring a premixed starter for a rhubarb-strawberry fizz. “It makes for a beautiful presentation and a fun spring and summertime drink. All you need to do is open a bottle of bubbly when you’re at the event, and let the oohs and ahhs flow,” Prints says.
“The joy of a potluck is that you get to experience different dishes without any one person doing the work of hosting a dinner party. Plus you get to sample recipes you might not usually make, so it’s great for variety,” says Kate Ailey, the founder of the Italian-inspired food blog Cooking & Carafes. Of course, it’s also great for serious crowd-pleasers, which is why her potluck go-to is a hearty pasta dish. “I’m a total pasta fiend, so rather than serving up a lasagna, I’d go for something a bit different like pasta shells. Lumaconi or conchiglie are perfect for this. Fill them with spinach, ricotta, and nutmeg for a tasty veggie filling, and nestle them into a tomato sauce,” she says. “Top with plenty of parmesan or add some mozzarella for a cheesy, oozy finish.”
If you want two gold stars next to your name, don’t just bring pasta (🎖)—bring room-temperature pasta (🎖) that makes things beyond easy for the host. “My orzo pasta salad is always popular, whether it’s as part of a BBQ, a side dish, or served on its own. It’s versatile and quick to make,” Ailey says.
It’s hard to be humble when you’re the one showing up with homemade bread! (Be sure to practice a few “Oh, this? It was nothings” in the mirror before heading over to the party.) This focaccia is tasty, for sure, and it’s a great centerpiece, Ailey says. Serve it as an appetizer on its own, or with charcuterie and cheeses. The best part is you can make it the day before and leave it to prove. “It only actually bakes for 20 minutes,” Ailey says.
This story originally appeared on: Glamour - Author:Condé Nast