Potluck parties are pretty fun and they take some of the pressure off the host because everyone brings something to share. Easy, right? Well, not necessarily. What if everyone brings their mom's famous mac and cheese or you end up with 15 trays of chocolate chip cookies?
Melissa Clark, food blogger and author of "In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite," joined us on "Living Today" to share some potluck party tips that should help you avoid the overflow of mac and cheese. She also shared her recipe for Kale Salad with Anchovy-Date Dressing (recipe at the bottom of the post).
1. Bring fork friendly foods.
2. When bringing salad, pack sturdy greens instead of delicate ones. Pack the dressing on the side and dress your salads right before serving. Exception to this rule would be slaw, an ideal potluck food since it gets better as it sits.
3. Ask the host if he/she is assigning dishes so there’s no overlap. (And if you’re hosting, think of assigning dishes ahead of time so that you don’t wind up with only dessert or only salads.)
4. Cook comfort foods-- they’re always a big hit and they are not as fussy in their preparation. Pot pies, mac and cheese, lasagna, and casseroles are homey, crowd-pleasing, and easy.
5. If you absolutely cannot cook, offer to bring plates/napkins/utensils and/or beverages.
6. If you’re making a hot dish, make sure ahead of time that there is fridge/freezer space and/or an oven so you can store/reheat your food.
7. If you are traveling, it’s best to bring sturdy, easy-to-transport foods-- think cookies, brownies, etc.
8. Best bet - find a colorful dish that is best served at room temperature, that doesn't need to be chilled or heated. Fruit salad is always a hit.
9. If you’re invited to a potluck and you know you have an allergy, ask the host if you can bring something you can eat-- that way you know you will have something there.
Kale Salad with Anchovy-Date Dressing
Makes 6 servings
6 to 8 large medjool dates, pitted, smashed, and finely chopped
6 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Finely grated zest of 2 oranges
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar, more to taste
2 large or 3 small bunches Tuscan kale, ribs removed
Coarse sea salt, if needed
1. In a medium bowl, stir together the dates (use more dates if you like a sweeter salad, and fewer if you prefer a less sweet salad), anchovies, garlic, orange zest, and lemon zest. Stir in the olive oil and vinegar.
2. Wash and dry the kale leaves. Stack the leaves and slice them thinly crosswise. Transfer greens to a large salad bowl. Add the vinaigrette and toss gently to combine. Add salt and more vinegar if needed
- Russian red kale works well here, too if you can’t find Tuscan (a.k.a. lacinato, black, or dinosaur kale). Regular green curly kale is a last choice because the leaves tend to be tough, but it will work if you slice it thinly enough.
- Kale leaves toughen as they age, so it’s best if you make this dish with the most tender bunches you can find. That’s not to say that you can’t use kale that’s on the older side (because, well, I have). Just slice it very finely before tossing it with the vinaigrette.
- Although I haven’t done this yet, I would bet a princely sum that this dressing would be amazing on roasted or steamed cauliflower.
- When Meyer lemons are in season, you can substitute their zest in full for the orange and lemon zest.
- By the way, try to use the zested citrus in the next few days, it tends to harden up pretty quickly when denuded of the protective, oily skin. You can juice the lemons and freeze the juice. I usually end up eating the oranges almost immediately, but you can juice and freeze them too. Or use them to make a citrus salad.