go to potluck dishes, ideas and recipes

Thanksgiving has come and gone but there are plenty of food filled holidays to come. Along with out of town guests, office parties, remembering who gave what to whom avoiding any regifting embarrassment. In honor of this somewhat in between week, we’re keeping things low stress and celebrating the pitch-in, Jacob’s supper, aka potluck party. And to make things easier on ourselves, we enlisted the help of friends, a genuine potluck post.
spoon illustration by margie lavender

Yvonne – As for the potluck, I always like to bring something that can be put out quickly while the other dishes heat up. I used to bring the sausage cheese balls that can be fully cooked ahead and then heated in minutes, but now I try to avoid any heating at all, because there’s always competition for burners and oven space (because of all the one-dish casseroles). My current favorite is boiled shrimp with cilantro-almond dip adapted from Martha Stewart. It elevates shrimp so far beyond the cocktail sauce.

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As we both missed the pre-party soiree at which this was last served, we kindly request a repeat invite!

Christine – Tuscan Kale Caesar Salad an adaption of an adaption of an adaption. I use slightly less parm than what it calls for but by not much. Kale is healthy so who cares, right?

We say pile it on.

Stacy – Despite the fact that I have been known to eat cereal for dinner more times that I should admit, I like to cook. I am most generally the dessert girl at gatherings due to my severe baking obsession; but in this case, for pot luck holiday time, I thought to share my easy Pea & Mint Soup recipe. And since one cannot have soup without bread, I’m tossing in a bonus Rosemary Olive Oil Bread suggestion.
Buen Provecho!

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pea & mint soup

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roasemary olive oil bread

dare we say it…easy peasy?

Elisa – My go to is braised red cabbage. It was a staple of every holiday meal growing up, and I did NOT appreciate it as a kid. Now, I can’t have a holiday meal without it! And it’s been a hit with my friends since I started preparing it. The dish is such a pretty deep purple, and the cabbage has such a nice texture. Calling it braised is a stretch…the recipe could not be any easier – throw shredded red cabbage into a big pot with apple cider vinegar and sugar and let it simmer. And the best part is you can make it days ahead – the longer it sits and marinates, the tastier it gets.

Believe we may have sampled this at a NYC orphan Thanksgiving a few years back. Slightly apple-y, very flavorful.

Michele – This time of year? Plenty‘s couscous.

We were about to ask what she adds to the recipe but once we saw the ingredients list, realized it’s perfect as is. (And a fantastic cookbook.)

Vedia (Bebe) – It seems like I always draw dessert for potluck get togethers and this is delicious and so easy: dump cake. Dump a can of cherries and another of pineapples into a casserole dish. Then sprinkle cake mix (I like yellow) fairly evenly over the fruit and stud with pats of butter. Bake for about an hour and you’ve got a really good, so simple crumble. Another version uses apples topped with spice cake.

Not fond of the name but we love this cutting-corners cobbler. It might not be good for you, but it tastes mighty good.

Finally, a pro weighs in – Allison of creative Robicelli’s Cupcakes and tireless supporter of small business, rebuilding NYC after Sandy.

This is going to sound a little crazy, but I NEVER bring homemade things to dinner parties. I either bring a big tray of our brownies & cupcakes (if dessert is requested), but normally I’ll bring a nice spread of stuff from another small business in my neighborhood: assorted antipasto from ALC Italian Grocery, meze from Karam, donuts from Leske’s. I’m always trying to get people hooked on the items from businesses I love – entirely selfish, because I’m hoping that by converting as many people as possible I will never have to worry about them going out of businesses and taking their delicious food away from me.

If you’re a great amateur chef or love being in the kitchen, by all means whip something up for a potluck. But if you’re not, it’s really not a big deal. It’s better you go buy your dinner party contribution – you don’t stress yourself out, you’re guaranteeing it will be delicious, you’re helping your local businesses, and best of all if the dish is a hit, every person at that party will be able to get it any time they want by visiting the place you bought it!

When picking what to bring, try to pick something that’s a specialty of your neighborhood, something locally famous that people might not normally get all the way out to your neck of the woods to try. Have a place you order in from all the time that you can’t shut up about, or a restaurant you visit every Friday night? Call them and ask for a catering platter of your favorite appetizers- EVERY FOOD BUSINESS CAN DO THIS, regardless if it’s an advertised service.

Know your strengths. If you’re not a great cook, you’re not winning points because you made it yourself. End of the day, people just want something good to eat.

We couldn’t agree more, so especially appreciate the tried and true.

About Larks & Japes

We host parties pairing culture with cocktails & canapés while collaborating with quality makers. goods • get togethers • getaways