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Ideas for Block Party Potluck

I'm co-coordinating our second annual block party for August 5 and am on the hunt for a fab side dish to bring. While I definitely want to wow my neighbors with my culinary creativity I know that many (most?) of them are in no way, shape or form chowhounds.

I thought it would be a good thing to get a head start with ideas...anyone have some to share?

TIA!

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  1. I have made lumpia, potstickers and fried won tons for large potlucks and they always go over well.

    1. It's hard to make a reccommendation without knowing more about your tastes, other dishes being served, etc. I like to make an eggplant dip (basically just roasted eggplant, mashed with olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper) that can be spread on bread. It's very easy and tends to be a crowd favorite.

      I can't help but note the irony in the request, saying that you want to wow your neighbors with culinary creativity, but you ask us for ideas. :)

      1 Reply
      1. re: Darren72

        Ok, Darren. Good point. I've got zillions of recipes I could use (from books, from my own head, from this board, from epicurious, etc.) but I was curious if some hound had something that I had never thought to try out.
        I think maybe it stems from me being a fan of brainstorming. It helps me weed out bad ideas from potentially amazing ones.

        As for what's being served - we divided up the street so that certain houses will bring sides or salads (like me), chips/dips, a beverage of some sort, or a dessert. We're collecting money for beer, a keg of birch beer, burgers and dogs. So, I assume there will be a decent variety.

      2. A crowd pleaser that I often make in the summer is as simple as it comes. The key is to use the best ingredients available-tomatoes, basil and fresh mozzarella. For a crowd I just roughly chop the tomato and mozzarella into the same size hunks. Add lots of torn up basil. Toss w/ evoo and a generous helping of fresh ground pepper. Basically-Insalata Caprese.

        8 Replies
        1. re: foodieX2

          I layered my home grown tomatoes (green, yellow, orange, red) with my garden basil, fresh mozzarella, and red onions (soaked in water overnight).

          The vinaigrette was served alongside (poured some over the top just before serving also). The serving vessel made it look especially nice (photo below). This combination of flavors epitomizes summer to me.
          http://i38.photobucket.com/albums/e10...

          1. re: Funwithfood

            I saw your post earlier. You *should* be a food stylist! Looks wonderful-cool and refreshing!!

            1. re: foodieX2

              Thank you.

              (The vessel makes all the difference--good lighting also helps :)

              1. re: Funwithfood

                That is so beautiful! Where did you find the vessel? That recipe sounds amazing and would make great use of our CSA bounty:)

                1. re: Funwithfood

                  Isadorasmama (can't reply directly to your post with new software...grrr.):

                  I picked up this glass wine vessel at a thrift store--thought the height would highlight the pretty colors of this salad. A glass trifle bowl would also be nice...

              2. re: Funwithfood

                Beautiful presentation and a great idea. Think I'm going to make a Caprese salad for din-din!

              3. re: foodieX2

                Can always add a bit of diced mango to make it interesting.

                1. re: SLO

                  There are "green pineapple" (KILLER good) and "lemon" (excellent) tomatoes layered in the salad...

                  Mango would be pretty, but not sure it would complement these flavors; love the tomato/mozz/basil/onion/vinaigrette combo. But what do I know! If you try it with mango, please do report back. :)
                  (And take a picture!)

              4. One of my favorite side dishes is called Orzo with Everything, from Bon Appetit magazine. You can find the dish on epicurious, but I've copied and pasted it here. I make it often and it's always a favorite.

                Orzo with Everything

                1 1/2 cups orzo (rice-shaped pasta; about 10 ounces)
                1/3 cup (packed) chopped drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
                5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
                1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
                1/4 cup (packed) chopped Kalamata olives or other brine-cured black olives
                1 cup finely chopped radicchio (about 1 small head)
                1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
                1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
                1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
                2 large garlic cloves, minced


                Cook orzo in pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain well. Transfer to large bowl. Add sun-dried tomatoes, oil, vinegar and olives and toss to blend. Let stand until cool. (Can be prepared 6 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before continuing.)
                Mix chopped radicchio, pine nuts, chopped basil, Parmesan and garlic into orzo mixture. Season salad to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

                Serves 6.

                2 Replies
                1. re: susan1353

                  I can vouch for this recipe. I've made it and it's wonderful.

                  1. re: susan1353

                    I make something similar for large summer parties and it's always a hit. Added advantage: no mayo to go bad.

                  2. Chicken Wing Dip with tortilla chips is always a pleaser at the parties I attend. Cream cheese base, cooked chicken breast mixed with hot sauce, butter and blue cheese dressing, topped with shredded mozzerella and baked for awhile. I've got a more specific recipe if you're interested.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: bookgirl234

                      I second the wing dip...I have a recipe for Bonnie's Buffalo Dip, similar to what bookgirl1234 described. A friend of mine brought it to a barbeque last summer and this one guy didn't stop e-mailing her til she gave him the recipe.