When I was living in California, back in my wine-making days, I was introduced to the concept of ‘pot lucking’. If you’re in Australia you may know it as ‘bringing a plate.’
The idea is everyone brings something to eat to the party and you make a meal of whatever turns up. Personally I think ‘pot luck’ is a much more poetic name.
It’s a brilliant way to share the load, especially for large get-togethers when there are many mouths to feed. So with Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner, I thought I’d share with you some of my favourite dishes to take along to a pot luck event.
Basically you’re looking for dishes that are happy to sit around for a few hours. And things that aren’t too fussy about the temperature that they’re served.
And of course you want them to be super delicious and a little unusual so there are lots of comments of ‘who made the (insert your dish here)? It’s amazing.’ After all, aren’t we cooks all in it for the compliments? I know I am ;)
16 ideas for ‘pot lucking’ this thanksgiving
1. Roast Butternut ‘Hummus’ – serve with flat bread or crusty bread or celery sticks.
2. Broad Bean Pesto – If it’s not broad bean season make it with frozen peas. Either way serve with crusty bread.
3. Amazing Glazed Ham - if you’re in charge of the main protein forget about turkey and focus on the ham. A glazed ham is super forgiving and you don’t need to stress about getting it cooked through because it’s already cooked. You just need to focus on getting it looking gorgeous and glazed. I make this every year and this year we’ve even cured and smoked our own ham but you don’t need to go to that much trouble. The other great thing about ham is that is tends not to be ridiculously expensive.
4. Pecan Crusted Sweet Potato – if you need to keep the vegetarians happy, this is the main course for you! If you have any carnivore guests I can guarantee they’ll want to try this too.
5. Onion & White Bean Bake – This will double as a side if needed.
6. Lentil & Shaved Fennel Salad (recipe below) – I’m always surprised how many people don’t eat lentils very often but when they try them absolutely love the little fellas. Another happy-to-sit-around-and-be-served-however salad.
7. Green Chickpea Salad – chickpeas are still one of my all time favourite foods. And this salad is no exception. Kale makes a brilliant ‘pot luck’ salad green because it tastes better after a bit of time marinating in the dressing, more than you can say for most regular salad greens.
8. Burnt Carrot Salad – This is still on high rotation in our house. It’s best if you toss everything just before it’s time to eat, so it is a little bit higher maintenance. But worth it!
9. Preserved Lemon Potato Salad - the preserved lemon makes this salad far more exciting than a regular mayonnaise-heavy potato salad. There are 2 other delicious potato salad recipes to choose from on this page as well. If there’s an Irish person among the guests you may have them pledging their undying love for you… don’t say I didn’t warn you ;)
10. Warm Salad of Roasted Cauliflower & Quinoa – also great served at room temp. Just keep the cheese in the fridge until you’re ready to serve. Quinoa always gets loads of questions and compliments.
11. Rolls Royce ‘Slaw – One of those salads that can sit in the fridge as long as needed. Especially good at barbeques.
12. Roast Beets, Lentil & Balsamic Onion Salad – this one takes a little bit of effort to prepare but is super low maintenance after that. Great if you aren’t sure how long it will be before you eat.
13. Toblerone Ice Cream Cake – only make this if you know there will be plenty of freezer space. Guaranteed crowd pleaser.
14. Croissant Surprise Cake – I can’t tell you how many readers have contacted me telling me of all the compliments they’ve had after making this cake. Great because it will sit at room temperature for hours or is equally happy straight from the fridge.
15. No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake – This cake is super easy and super rich. And it’s better if you make it the day before. Get ready for the recipe requests!
16. Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies – the salt makes them sightly unusual but apart from that they’re as good as cookies get. I love taking these to parties because they’re easy to serve and don’t create any washing up.
Do you have a favourite ‘pot luck’ recipe?
I’d love to hear about it in the comments…
lentil & fennel salad
As I mentioned above, I’m often surprised how many people don’t cook lentils but when they try them in something like this salad, get super excited. It makes me happy to share the lentil love.
I find most legume-based salads are very forgiving and most actually taste better after a few hours of being neglected.
enough for 6-8 as a side
250g (9oz) small puy or ‘French-style’ green lentils
2 heads baby fennel
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 handfuls shaved hard cheese such as ossu iraty or parmesan
1. Bring a medium pot of water to the boil. Add lentils and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until tender (you want them softer than ‘al dente’ pasta).
2. Drain lentils very well then return to the pot. Stir in vinegar, soy and 4-5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil.
3. Taste and add a little more vinegar, soy or salt as needed.
4. Trim fennel, reserve green dill-like fronds and finely chop. Shave bulbs super finely with a mandoline or a sharp knife and a steady hand.
5. Toss fennel and fronds in with the lentils. Serve salad with cheese scattered over.
dairy-free / vegan – replace cheese with roasted nuts such as pine nuts or almonds.
carnivore – replace cheese with prosciutto or finely sliced salami.
no sherry vinegar? – use rice vinegar or white wine vinegar. Balsamic would be good too.
different veg – replace fennel with a few generous handfuls of baby spinach leaves. Or try other shaved vegetables such as raw zucchini, beets or asparagus.
main course salad - just serve with extra cheese – I think goats cheese or ricotta is really nice for a main course.
Video version of the recipe.
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