Football season will be upon us soon and Mr. Janet and I attend all of the home games of the college where my stepdaughter attends. I need some ideas for savory items that I can bring that are reasonably easy to prepare and do not have to be refrigerated or heated. These don't have the be the "main event" of the tailgate but something that would be in addition to what the host brings as the star of the show. Sweet things are pretty easy...good cookies, brownies, etc. but the savory items are challenging.
How fancy are your tailgating parties? What kinds of foods would appeal? My tastes lean toward Asian/Mediterranean/spicy foods so this may not suit your crowd.
For salads, I'd bring grain or pasta (non-mayo type) salads - couscous or bulghur with olives, feta, lemon and mint. This can be made fancier with pieces of cooked or smoked seafood, chicken, turkey etc.
Orzo salad is similar - I add lots of fresh and cooked veggies, depending on what's in season. Again, you can add in extra proteins to make it more filling. I make a dijon dressing for this so it doesn't have to be chilled.
Other pasta ideas - rice noodles with a Thai/Vietnamese dressing (rice vinegar, fish sauce, chopped peanuts, mint and/or basil, chile, sesame oil).
For mains, you could cook a side of salmon and take a sauce. My favorite is dill mustard which has always gone down well with my friends. Depending on how long it is before you eat, the salmon should be OK at room temps for a couple of hours.
How about fried chicken? There were several threads on this recently with recipes and recommendations.
Grilled, marinated veggies - marinate slices of eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper, cherry tomatoes in a vinaigrette. Grill or roast. Cool, add extra marinade. Nice as a side or main, can be served on ciabatta to make a pretty good sandwich.
This crowd has some people who love great food and others who are happy with the most mediocre of foods. We already have someone who brings cold fried chicken, so that is out.
The problem is we leave Friday afternoon and the tailgate will be Saturday morning and I won't have access to a refrigerator. Probably something like couscous or pasta salad would keep okay in a cooler. The salmon, not so much.
I almost always grill quail at my Patriots tailgates. I use the semi-deboned variety (only the leg bones are left), so they lay nice and flat and cook very quickly. They're also great because you can season them in a wide variety of ways. The easiest is just salt, pepper, and a dusting of good paprika for nice color. I've also made an easy glaze of hot chili paste and raspberry preserves; sweet and sassy! Another favorite is Jamaican jerk quail, and I've even done a Tandori version. If you don't have easy access to semi-deboned quail, here's a good online source (ignore the photo; it shows whole quail, but you get the deboned kind):
Oh, forgot to add that quail is quite delicious at room temperature. So although I grill them right in the Gillette Stadium parking lot, you could prepare them at home and bring them to the game. I wouldn't serve them ice cold though, just room temp.