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non-chowish potluck dish

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I have a sort of mandatory potluck thing at work, and I'm out of luck for ideas. There's probably, maybe, one foodie in the entire bunch, so anything too adventurous wouldn't work. Also, there's probably around 35-45 people eating at a potluck luncheon that happens on a Thursday, so I don't have a lot of time to, well, do anything.

I'm a little desperate since there's only a small toaster oven at work, and I can't take a hot item to work (take public transit at rush hour). At the moment, I'm thinking I may have to resort to something like pasta salad, but I'm wondering if anyone would have any other ideas that might be fast and inexpensively scaled to feed that many people.

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  1. Layered corn bread salad. Sounds odd but tastes amazing, also, a cold dish, no burned commuters!

    Bake a Jiffy corn bread mix as directed (prepare dish the night before.) Mix 11/2 cup of best Foods mayo and 1/2 cup dill pickle juice until smooth. Crumble corn bread into 13x9 inch casserole dish, layer remaining ingredients in order and refrigerate over night.

    16oz kidney beans, drained 1C tomato, diced
    1C green pepper, diced 1lb cooked, crumbled bacon
    1C green onion, chopped mayo, dill dressing

    I hope you get to try this sometime, it really is a surprise!

    1. Ali, I'm in sort of the same situation (but will be able to bring a crockpot) and have asked for help here also...here's my recent topic with some very nice answers...one person suggested a couscous salad and the savory bread pudding idea might work for you too:

      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/349821

      1. I brought some bruschetta to work during one of our potlucks. Made the topping ahead and just brough the bread and a knife tocut it. I assembled right before we ate. It was a big hit!

        1 Reply
        1. re: ctl98

          I have to vouch for this idea--Easy and EVERYONE loves it. Just make sure you use really good tomatoes, fresh basil, and add some vinegar for kick. I pull this out at parties all the time and it always disappears.
          Other suggestion is a taco dip, which actually gets me invited to parties. Soften two bars of Philly cream cheese adn combine with a large container of sour cream. Blend in one envelope of taco seasoning (I prefer Ortega Chipotle). Spread in the bottom of a pan. Then layer whatever you want on top--I usually have fun with black beans or guacamole, etc. And I definitely experiment with different shredded cheeses and salsas. Black olives are unpopular for some reason, so I no longer use them. Then there's shredded lettuce and chopped tomatoes, jalapenos, etc. I suppose you could add meat, but I usually keep it vegetarian. Once you have the cream cheese/sour cream/taco seasoning base down, you are free to experiment.

        2. Wheat berry salad. Really -- even non-foodies at my office picnic loved it. It's like a pasta salad, only better. I've tripled the wheat berries and doubled the vinaigrette and add-ins for a crowd. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

          1. Are you sure we're not involved with the same pot luck?

            Anyway, don't write off your co-workers so easily. Even the less chowish among them will appreciate a more special or refined dish. Unless you're talking about making something like duck patte - it's worth the chow-effort. Of course you don't have a great deal of time, or a crock pot capability. One idea on that would be perhaps to bring the pot to work one day, then bring the well packaged food the next?

            For potlucks at church or work, I often make a more "refined" version of what people already know. Like a nice chowder or bisque style soup, or even just use fancier (for lackof a better word) cheeses and spices in a standard cassarole.

            How 'bout a "real" caesar salad? Make the dressing at home, take the lettuce, croutons, and parm in plastic baggies. I made this at work one year and ended up with 6-7 requests for the recipe.