WASHINGTON – It’s easy to fall into a rut and make the same old dish whenever you receive a potluck invitation. And the invitations to contribute seem to be particularly frequent for attendees of workplace and school social events.
So if you are at that stage in life when you are often invited to potluck gatherings, there are many online resources to help you expand your palate and offerings.
When planning your next potluck dish, it doesn’t hurt to be mindful of the growing number of food allergies. There are more sufferers of dairy, nut, fish, soy and gluten-based allergies, which makes it a challenge to come up with a dish everyone can eat.
Another issue at the potluck table is whether or not the food will have to sit out for a lengthy period of time. No dish is worth an outbreak of a foodborne illness. The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers these food preparation and storage tips:
Hot food should be kept at 140 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer.
Cold food should be kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder.
When serving food at a buffet, keep food hot with chafing dishes, slow cookers and warming trays.
Keep food cold by nesting dishes in bowls of ice, or use small serving trays and replace them often.
Perishable food should not be left out more than two hours at room temperature (one hour when the temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit).
Go-To Potluck Recipes
I was at a dinner party years ago when I begged my friend Kathy for the first recipe. The second I came up with on my own based on salads I tend to order in restaurants. Both are fast to prepare, friendly to most allergy sufferers and dieters and can be kept at room temperature for up to two hours.
Black Bean and Asparagus Salad
1 bushel of asparagus
1 can or bag of black beans
1 squeezed lemon
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of honey
1. Chop asparagus into half-inch bites.
2. Prepare black beans.
3. Steam asparagus for two minutes.
4. Drain both water from asparagus and excess juice from beans in a colander.
5. Mix olive oil, honey and lemon juice together with beans and asparagus into a bowl. Chill for 10 minutes in the refrigerator and then serve.
Spinach Fruit Salad
Fresh spinach leaves
Poppy seed dressing (store bought or your own recipe)
1. Rinse spinach and all fruit thoroughly before slicing.
2. Place spinach first in the bowl.
3. Add strawberries, blueberries and pineapple. The assortment lends well to a colorful design at the top of the bowl.
4. Serve poppy seed dressing on the side.
Have fun with your next potluck contribution, and may your samplers delight in your latest recipe.
Editor’s Note: WTOP’s Katie Howard is a mom on the go. With two children under age 5, she’s always looking for ways to provide her family fast and healthy snacks, meals and activities. Katie shares her go-to food and family fitness tips every Tuesday on her blog “Good to Go.”