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Pitch-in/Potluck Cold Entree Suggestions?

Hello all,

I am on the list to bring an entree (or a side, I suppose) to what people in my new town call a pitch-in, but which I would call a potluck. It's a lunch thing among co-workers, and I just don't have any idea what to do.

Here's the main problem: there is nothing to warm food with except a small microwave, and I don't currently have a working crockpot/slow cooker, so I need something that I can make the night before and serve cold or at room temp. (There is plenty of fridge space.)

I rarely make cold food, and I just don't have any ideas off of the top of my head. A nice salad of some sort is all I've been able to come up with (pear, walnut, feta, balsamic; whatever), and even then I'm not thrilled about that, as I'd rather make something more interesting. Cold entrees just aren't my forte.

I will be cooking for non-Chow types, so I'm probably not looking for anything too esoteric, but good food is good food and I'd like to bring something in I can be proud of.

Any suggestions?


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  1. Potlucks are not my favorite. . .

    Some room temperature entrees:
    - quiche (cliche but really good if made entirely from scratch)
    - tart (muchroom/fontina, leek/onion)
    - salmon mousse or pate served with breads and crudite
    - terrine (vegetable, roast pepper, asparagus/egg, salmon/cod, chicken/pork)
    - rolled sandwiches

    Hope this helps. Good luck and good eating!

    1 Reply
    1. re: alwayscooking

      Much appreciated! That's certainly a good start. (Why didn't I think of quiche?!) I've never actually done a potluck before, although I've participated in numerous holiday-related feasts where I coordinated with a couple other people to get the meal on the table. I wish had gotten to the signup sheet in time to snag a dessert slot. :P

    2. tortellini salad with red bell peppers, grape tomatoes, red onion, some chunks of real pepperoni (not thin slices), some chunks of mozzarella, artichokes, black olives, an italian-oregano vinaigrette. look here for inspiration and variations. http://images.google.com/images?clien...

      1. sesame chicken wings are good at room temperature. for all that, so are sesame, peanut butter noodles.
        cold shrimp? chilled salmon with horseradish sauce?
        sliced pork tenderloin with a couple of good sauces is a nice room temperature dish, too.

        1. a great turkey or chix cole slaw with more vegies added in. This is close to mine, although I like to add those ramen noodles and almonds (toasted) for crunch:


          1. I think that a roasted beef or pork tenderloin sliced really thin is BETTER cold than hot. It loses that mushy over-tenderized thing some tenderloins have. I'm thinking cold beef tenderloin on arugula salad, with some kind of balsamic vinaigrette? Super-simple, but adventurous enough for non-foodie-types, I think.

            1. Apparently, I missed the nineties fad of "chopped bread," because I just recently heard of it. Here's a link to the basic recipe.


              It can be as loaded as you want I guess, and can be served at room temp. The stromboli or pizza varieties seem like they would work for you. Sort of a muffaletta only without the olive salad and chopped up. Maybe tomato sauce on the side so folks could serve themselves a dollop on their plate for dipping.

              1. You could make an asian noodle salad with chicken. Noodle salads are filling. A giant loaf sandwich would work too- I have seen giant Muffeletta recipes

                1. My go-to for potlucks is cold buckwheat noodles -- similar to sesame noodles but without the heavy thick sauce. Sauce consists of soy sauce, sesame oil, peanut oil, splash of chinese (or balsamic) vinegar, a little chili oil, some sugar and salt to taste. Tossed with thinly sliced scallions and served room temp, it's delicious.

                  1. I'm taking fatoush salad tomorrow to a potluck.

                    1. We do a great simple pasta salad that's always a hit...

                      1 lb rigatoni cooked and drained
                      less than 1/2 cup olive oil
                      1/2 cup *seasoned* rice wine vinegar
                      2 cups chopped tomatoes, or amount to taste
                      a handful of chopped, julienned sundried tomatoes
                      1 cup or so grated parmesan cheese
                      dried oregano
                      fresh basil
                      salt and pepper to taste

                      Mix all and refrigerate 2 hours or even better overnight.