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Potluck-- with no heat!

Help! I have a potluck next week with my lab group and we're all meeting... in our offices... at noon. Unfortunately, this means that whatever I cook has to be made way ahead of time and there will be no way to reheat it. Any ideas? Desserts are out, but anything else would do. Thanks!!

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    1. Do your offices have electrical outlets with or without power strips? If so, consider using a rice cooker, slow cooker, electric skillet or wok, or even a panini grill to warm your offering.

      1. This sun-dried tomato dip is great - plus, it's best when made the night before. Chill it overnight, then let it come up to room temperature before you serve it.


        The recipe says to cook white beans from scratch, but I've made it with canned beans, and it was fine. No one knew that I cheated.

        If you're looking for something more "main-dish-y", perhaps sesame noodles, a white bean salad with tuna, a flank-steak salad, or a Spanish fritatta - I mean tortilla. Come to think of it, many tapas are good at room temperature.

        [EDITED TO ADD] More good ideas in this thread:


        1. Deviled eggs, put the filling in a ziploc, fill when ready. Soup, saved in a Thermos, croutons in a plastic bag. A great sub sandwich. Cheese ball, cheese spread, cream cheese and raspberry jam or pepper jelly. Tortilla rolled sandwiches or pinwheel type appetizers. Crostini with Cambozola and chutney spread. Cheddar olives, mentioned in a recent post. Some sort of terrine? A fun salad. There's a few thoughts for you.

          1. Thanks for the good ideas. I'm thinking of going either with a grain salad... maybe couscous or some quinoa.... or maybe a chicken satay over some cold noodle salad or something? Most of the people will be bringing cookies from the grocery store or cheap cheddar cheese, so I'm desperate to have something that will actually tide me over. You guys have saved my stomach from a lot of grumbling.

            5 Replies
            1. re: danikm

              I've made a salad like this...

              Chicken, wild rice, scallions, golden raisins (softened with warm water), toss with dressing of mayo, honey and cumin or curry powder, and top with toasted almonds. Very nice. Maybe water chestnuts too? Or some sort of cheese...

              1. re: danikm

                This week I made the (cold) Spicy Sesame Noodles in Silver Palate, which were great, and you could do the satay with that, certainly. We wanted a LOT of veggies (trying to be healthier post-Thanksgiving, but there I am cooking up pasta ;) so I steamed broccoli, asparagus, pea pods, sliced up lots of scallions, and then dressed spaghetti with homemade sesame mayo, intensified up with some chili paste. YUM. This dressing is really good, not as intense as one I tried recently at the local foodie take-out gourmet place. This salad (even without the chicken) will definitely tide you over - my sweety has been taking big helpings to work this week, and it keeps one going for hours :) I can post the sesame mayo if you like - or you can experiment by making a mayo and adding some sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, hot chili oil or paste, and I added orange zest for fun and color too.

                I made quinoa salad for 4th of July for a potluck. My very health-conscious workout-fiend sister (always hungry b/c she works out hours a day) would not let me take the salad b/c she wanted to eat it all herself. She went through the colossal bowl by the next morning - and I had made enough to feed a crowd. Quinoa is really cool, I think, and healthy, and works well in a salad with mango, scallion, cucumber, black bean, avocado- I just dressed with cumin and lime b/c I was forbidden to add oil.

                But either the sesame noodles or the quinoa would be excellent. I think I would toss in lots of sesame seeds to the noodles too, next time, as in a different cold noodle salad I make - great texture addition.

                  1. re: foxy fairy

                    I usually make cold sesame noodles in this type of situation as well.

                  2. re: danikm

                    I was going to suggest couscous w/ chicken, currants and pistachios. You can serve it at room temp too. OR Trader Joe's Brie Supreme w/ their poppy & pepper water crackers and mixed berry jam. Make some sherried walnuts or candied pecans and you've got something different. This is addictive, inexpensive and everyone loves it.

                  3. Orzo Salad. Orzo, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, scallions, squeeze a bit of lemon, grate some parm on if desired. I've brought this dish before in similar situations and it's been popular. If you want to make it meatier, you can always toss in chunks of tuna.

                    1. Ina Garten had an amazing "Chinese" chicken salad as she called it. It's great served at room temp. My husband started eating asparagus because of this.


                      1. quiche
                        fried chicken
                        brie - the wonder food that actually gets better at room temperature

                        If your office mates are going to buy their contriutions, point them towards a chinese/vietnamese restaurant to get egg rolls or spring rolls, or Popeyes for chicken, etc.

                        1. I recently brought this farro salad with roasted butternut squash, onions, toasted walnuts and goat cheese to a potluck. It was really tasty. I used hulled barley instead of farro.



                          1. As long as you have an outlet, I would think you would be a hit with any type of stew, chili or braised meat. Cook it a day or two ahead and reheat it at the office in a crockpot. Those dishes are always better after a night in the fridge anyway.

                            1. I second the slow-cooker ideas; make whatever soup/stew/chili you like the night before, then plug in the slow cooker in your office that AM and your dish will be ready to go by lunchtime. On the other hand, if you want to stick to cold foods, try making a shrimp remoulade or other cold seafood. The biggest hit ever at our office holiday potluck was raw oysters...a colleague brought in lemon wedges, cocktail sauce, and a bag of crushed ice & already shucked oysters. All he had to do was mound the crushed ice on a tray, lay out the oysters, and put the condiments on a plate. So much fun....

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Hungry Celeste

                                wow. I definitely wish I had your office mates instead of mine (most of whom will just bring whatever they can buy at the local Ralph's that morning).

                                Thanks so much for all of the suggestions. I am definitely doing to make that farro salad at some point, although I might keep it all for myself :)

                                1. re: danikm

                                  maybe they just need the challenge of a raised bar! go for it!

                              2. Yeah, my standby for office potlucks is a big crock pot full of chili; make it the night before, refrigerate overnight, and then plug the crock pot in as soon as you get to work, and it'll be nice and hot. If you don't have enough electrical outlets, unplug your computer!

                                1. read a thread about tri tips being grilled, wrapped in foil and carried to a party in (pre-heated?) insulated ice chests. Is an ice chest feasible for your situation?

                                  'Kitchen sink" bulgar salads go over well. You could fill a wide-mouth thermos with marinated frozen cocktail shrimp to add to the salad at serving time.

                                  1. Here are a few options...


                                    seasoned baked pita chips with a couple of dips such as hummus, red pepper spread, baba, pesto-artichoke

                                    grilled veggie salad sprinkled with a basalmic vinergrette and parm cheese

                                    chicken-peanut soba noodles