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What Are Your Favorite BBQ/Potluck/Outdoor Party Dishes?

We're having our annual backyard bbq picnic blowout and I'm looking for new suggestions about dishes to prepare. I always make the same assortment of tabouleh, pasta, and potato salads, but I'm craving new and fresh ideas for this year's extra special celebration (we're celebrating our recent engagement as well!). Any yummy drink suggestions are also welcomed. We do not have any dietary restrictions.

Thanks in advance for your help!

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  1. We had a bbq planned a couple of weeks ago that got rained out, but the food was already halfway prepared so we moved the party inside. the two things that went over well were sangria and grilled veggies. we marinated the veggies in balsamic, oil, basil and shallots and then served them in pita bread with goat cheese. they were SO good.
    congrats on the engagement!

    1. Caprese salad.
      Fennel salad. (Sliced fennel and red onion served with a raspberry vinaigrette. Garnish with some caraway seeds too)


      1 Reply
      1. re: Davwud

        The NY Times a couple of weeks ago had a recipe for a barley and corn salad. I didn't have barley, so used spelt - cook till done, add corn (frozen, fresh or TJ's canned), mix with a light vinaigrette. I added sliced green onions, sliced cherry tomatoes, minced shallots and a chiffonade of fresh basil. I think just about anything that adds a little crunch would work jsut fine. I also added a few dashes of Cholula because my husband likes things spicy.

        I've made this twice now - once just for us, the 2nd time I brought a batch to a potluck BBQ and it was the only dish with nothing left over. One batch - 2 cups spelt, 1 can of corn - serves about 8-10 easily.

      2. I love a tomato salad with red onion, a light balsamic, garlic, S&P and fresh basil. let it marinade for a couple of house and have some great bread for the other dishes.

          1. marinated brisket of beef slow cooked for about 4 hours and served at room temp along with bavarian potato salad also at room temp. Add some tabuli and oriental sesame wheat pasta and you have the perfect things for a bbq or potluck dinner.

            1. Devilled eggs. There is no such thing as too many devilled eggs. Always use the cheap ones, because they're seldom the freshest, and a fresh boiled egg is harder to peel than a live pit bull. Halve them, pop the yolks out into a bowl, add some Coleman's dry mustard, salt and fresh-ground pepper, a dash of Tabasco and enough mayonnaise to bind it all together (hot tip: start with about half what you think you'll need). A little very finely-chopped celery or dill pickle is nice; some people like a bit of sweet relish. Smash and blend it all together with a fork, taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary, then heap back into the whites with a teaspoon. Cook gets to lick the bowl; that's the RULE!

              Creamy coleslaw: shred a small head of cabbage very fine, or succumb to the Consumer Economy and buy a pound bag of the ready-cut. I mix a half-cup each of Hellman's (Best Foods) mayonnaise and buttermilk, along with a teaspoon of salt, a tablespoon of wine vinegar and a tablespoon of sweet pickle relish, plus some ground-in pepper and maybe that Ol' Debbil Tabasco, and toss the shredded cabbage with that and put it into a covered bowl in the fridge for a few hours, where it all sort of wilts into itself and gets a lot juicier than you'd expected. Yummy.

              1. A potato salad with a lemony vinaigrette instead of mayo-based dressing, roasted cashew nuts, salty sliced black olives (I use Kalamata), sliced green onions and lots of chopped parsley. Put the cashews in at the last minute so they don't get soggy.

                1. Get some tropical fruit juices like Goya brand mango or guava, for mixers with dark rum. Keep fresh mint on hand for drink garnishes. If you can find real sassafras root (try Aphrodisia on Bleeker in NYC), or fresh young ginger root, make your own root beer and ginger beer ahead of time.

                  How about a fruit salad, summer fruit only, like melons and berries with a squeeze of lemon. Without fall/winter fruits like oranges and apples. Whole watermelon takes up a lot of valuable fridge space but having it cold is the only way to eat it.

                  Grilled salmon is always a hit. Larger bite-size cubes, cut from de-boned steaks or a large fillet, can help portion control and dilute cost. Keep the skin on while you grill to help keep shape.

                  Good luck!

                  1. This summer's favorites have been:

                    Grilled corn, husks on (soak in water before hand)

                    Heirloom tomatoes with balsamic

                    Roasted Beets and Carrots with crumbled Feta

                    Grilled Shell on Giant Prawns (marinated in a bit of lemon, garlic and olive oil for 20 minutes)

                    as mentioned before, grilled fillet of salmon--i flavor with herbs, cook it in aluminum foil and open at the table, allowing guests to serve themselves

                    orzo pasta salad with sundried tomatoes, artichokes, olives

                    1. Bon Apetit had a recipe in one of their BBQ issues (June 03 or 04 I think) for a grilled potato and watercress salad with blue cheeze vinagrette that never fails to impress. I'm sure you can find the recipe on their website, but basic recipe is as follows: parboil, then grill new potatoes Wash and trim about 2 bunches of watercress. Plate the watercress, then mound potatoes on the 'cress. Crumble a good portion of high quality bleu on top (I've been using Pt. Reyes bleu recently). Toss with a vinagrette made from EVO, champagne vinegar, sea salt and cracked pepper. (For the first step, I cut the potates in half if they are small, quarters if bigger, then toss with EVO, S&P in my grill basket for 10-20 minutes, depending on how hot the fire is).


                      1. Let's see, the party we went to on Monday before the 4th we took a grilled corn, jicama and black bean salad. Actually grilled the corn on my cast iron grill pan since I only have a charcoal BBQ and didn't want to fire it up. Used canned black beans from TJ's. You can either dice or shred the jicama. Threw in some shredded carrots and sliced green onions along with fresh basil and cilantro. Dressing was fresh OJ, fresh lime juice, a little cumin, a little fresh grated lime peel and olive oil. We took home a perfectly cleaned bowl and two requests for the recipe.

                        Also took deviled eggs which also were gone in a jiffy. Put a little bit of Madras curry powder in which went over great.