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Block Party Dish

Our annual block party is coming up and I need a dish that will feed eight, preferably not meat. We always have an over abundance of pasta-based dishes. Any recommendations for fast and easy? Thanks.

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  1. Cole slaw with broiled split soyrizo.

    chickpeas, cold boiled potatoes cukes & onions with a tahini-lemon-garlic dressing (garlic croutons on top for crunch)

    cellophane noodles with mixed steamed & chilled veggies (broccoli, carrots, snow peas, celery, cauliflower, etc.) in a sesame-soy-ginger dressing

    1. i vote for a quinoa dish, or a chopped Turkish Sheperd's salad (Coban Salatasi).

      here's my Coban recipe...

      GHG's Coban Salatasi (Turkish Shepherd's Salad)

      4 medium tomatoes
      1 medium cucumber (seedless, if available)
      1 medium-size mild onion (i prefer red or bermuda)
      2 large jarred pepperoncini (banana peppers)*
      6 tablespoons olive oil
      2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
      1 teaspoon dried oregano
      1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
      juice of half a lemon (1-2 tablespoons)
      kosher salt
      fresh cracked black pepper
      1 large handful flat leaf parsley

      grated mizithra cheese or crumbled feta cheese for serving

      Halve the tomatoes, squeeze gently (don't crush them!) to remove the seeds, and discard seeds. Peel cucumber, and slice in half, lengthwise. If cucumber contains seeds, remove them by scraping gently with a spoon, & discard seeds. Dice the tomato, onion & cucumber, and combine in a large bowl. Remove & discard the stems from the pepperoncini, chop the peppers very finely, and add to the other vegetables.

      In a separate bowl, whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, oregano and mint; season dressing to taste with salt & pepper.

      Pour dressing over vegetables, toss well, and allow to sit, refrigerated, for at least 30 minutes (the longer, the better).

      When ready to serve, roughly chop the parsley and sprinkle over salad (don't toss - i prefer to allow each diner to mix it into their serving after it's plated).

      Serve with cheese on the side (i always fold 1-2 tablespoons into my serving).


      *Note: traditionally, this salad contains green bell peppers, but i can't eat them raw. if you don't like the bite from the pepperoncini and you're okay with green peppers, feel free to omit the pepperoncini, and add 1 cored, seeded & diced medium green pepper.

      and some threads about quinoa & other grain salads...

      1 Reply
      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        Great idea! Everyone always seems to love a healthy salad at these types of events, and most people don't think to bring it! You can serve the crumbled geta on the side, just in case people don't want it or don't eat cheese.

        1. Well, it's not terribly fast and easy, but it's good and does well at room temp. Ratatouilie dressed with basil pesto, extra grated cheese on the side for sprinkling. Or just a huge platter of a variety of dead-ripe tomatoes, pesto on the side.

          I haven't done it yet, but the first picnic I go to this year I'm taking the watermellon/feta/black olive salad. It would need to be in another bowl with ice or freezer packs to keep it really cold.

          4 Replies
          1. re: nemo

            keep the watermelon separate until just it's serving time. The salt from the feta & olives makes the watermelon bleed profusely, so it turns into a kinda funky looking pink soup. I unfortunately found this one out the hard way.

            1. re: weezycom

              Thanks for the tip! Guess that wouldn't be a good dish to take if it will be sitting on a buffet for a while. Rats. I was thinking that would be my picnic contribution this year.

              1. re: nemo

                It disappears pretty quickly...so it might work. You could "mix it" in two batches..in different shifts.....so it stayed a bit fresher. It's worth the trouble...it's a great salad.

                1. re: perk

                  try watermelon, feta cheese, fresh lime and mint.

          2. Stromboli....always a hit.
            Buy pizza dough at your local pizza place, stuff it with salami, ham, crumbled sausage, pepperoni, etc.

            1. Last week I did a black-eyed pea salad that everyone really loved. Pretty simple, but you'd need to double it.

              2 cans black eyed peas, rinsed
              6 roma tomatoes seeded and diced
              1/2 jalapeno pepper, diced finely
              1/2 red onion, diced
              juice of one lemon
              1/4 cup olive oil
              handful of chopped parsley
              salt and pepper

              It was delicious and you could really adjust it to your tastes in terms of the amount of tomato, lemon, etc. Easy too!

              4 Replies
                1. re: hungry100

                  Pasta with pesto is a good idea too. CHEAP and delish!
                  If you want to fancy it up, do an artichoke pesto (with parsely instead of basil)

                  1. re: notsochubbychubette

                    the OP stated that they "always have an over abundance of pasta-based dishes," so i'd save that one for another occasion.

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      you could take the pasta pesto idea though and turn it into a potato salad - my friends request two salads every cookout we have:

                      1. potato salad made with new red potatoes, pesto, and haricot verts
                      2. orzo salad with tomatoes, feta, kalamata olives and fresh basil

                      both are super simple, can feed a crowd and can be left out

              1. a big caesar salad w/romaine or whatever lettuce is on sale
                asian coleslaw: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Asian-Co...
                or mixed bean salad

                1. 1. Falafel & hummus & pita bread
                  2. Black beans & rice
                  3. Refried beans & tortillas
                  4. Miso grilled eggplant rounds
                  5. Couple of potato gallettes

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    Falafel is a fun idea.. you can even put out some toppings besides for the hummus- Israeli salad, pickles, cabbage, fried eggplant slices. Even better if you can get mini pita breads.

                  2. Well 3 ideas.
                    My go to dish when I am late and past late is to buy some good marinated veggies from whole food or a good grocery fresh selection of pre marinated veggies. My Sweetbay in FL has a great fresh mix but there are many good fresh and even jarred that are available. Add to either couscous with some good goat cheese or even parm or your favorite and it is a great simple simple.

                    Also mixed with some romaine or mixed greens and some toasted baguettes on top in a wonderful easy dish.

                    The marinade in the jar makes a simple dressing and it is quick and tasty. I just make sure I buy a quality brand or the fresh from my deli. Whole foods or my local grocer has one with artichokes, olives, onions, cauli, peppers, etc. I sometimes just add some fresh tomatoes and it is done.

                    Second or third option is pizza.

                    Time worried ... buy some pre made crusts. Top with a light tomato sauce, fresh basil, mozz and parm and throw on some pepperoni and fresh mushrooms. Another, gruyere or swiss, proscuitto, some mushrooms, pepperoni and mozz and parm for kids. Make a fruit one with walnuts, cream cheese, dried fruit. Options are endless. Leftover chicken with onions and BBQ. The best thing. Cheap to make, easy to fix, 10 minutes a little chopping and bake. Hot or room temp is just fine. Cut in slices and it can be a lot of fun and very little work. Don't go overboard and go easy on the topping.

                    And last ... mini croissants. Can get them pretty much everywhere. Fill with grilled chicken and melted cheese. I love to make them with a spicy rub and then grill. Top with cheese and I make a herbed aioli I put on the croissant and then a few pieces of chicken. Some I put avacado, some tomato etc. They aren't fancy but always good and bite size for everyone to nibble on.

                    1. Deviled eggs are easy and usually disappear quickly. I would make plenty. You could garnish the tray with lettuce and pretty vegatables like red pepper sticks.
                      Caprese salad is easy and attractive.
                      Desserts do well at a block party. Presentation helps, especially with children. For fruit salad, or bar cookies placed onto skewers or popsicle sticks.

                      1. Grilled peach & pineapple salad with soy ginger dressing
                        Mexican rice salad
                        Taco salad
                        Grilled pear & apple salad with blue cheese and honey drizzle (usually on a stick)

                        Have fun!

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: HillJ

                          I would love the grilled peach and pineapple salad and the pear. But I love grilled fruit. big fan and a lot of people are even though they don't realize it. Great suggestions.

                          1. re: kchurchill5

                            How do you grill the fruit? Do you use one of those fish grill things, or do the pieces of fruit stay intact just straight on the grill? Should one put any dressing/oil on it first? Also, wondering how long it takes. I live in NYC, so no grill here, but I have the opportunity to grill at the end of August when out of the city. Any other fruits that are good to grill?


                            1. re: MMRuth

                              funny, we just had a discussion in another thread a few days ago about grilling avocado.

                              no need for a basket. most will stay intact, but if it has skin (like banana or avocado), i usually slice in half and leave the skin on for grilling, then peel after.

                              as for which fruits you can use, you're only limited by your imagination. i particularly love to grill stone fruits - grilled peaches, plums and nectarines are divine - and bananas. you can even do strawberries and pitted cherries, just thread them onto a skewer. you can also do slices of melon, or cut into cubes & skewer with some berries for fruit kabobs.

                              i brush with a tiny bit of oil to help keep it from sticking, and the amount of time it takes will depend on the type of fruit, the size of the piece, and the degree of "doneness" you prefer.

                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                I also like to brush peaches with some balsamic glaze before I grill them. It adds great flavor.
                                Then I can serve them just like that...or slice them and put over ice cream!

                                1. re: perk

                                  I use balsamic and honey at times. Excellent dish . I like to serve mine with ginger snaps

                              2. re: MMRuth

                                MMR, we grill fruit year round. One helpful tip is to keep the fruit in as large a piece as possible and cut it bite-sized before serving. I use grapeseed oil because it doesn't overtake the fruits natural flavor.

                                I also bought a grill basket last summer to grill large batches and it's been so useful. In the grill basket I can toss the fruit (or veggies) with greater control.

                                Experiment. Pitted fruits do really well on the grill. But we've grilled just about every fruit. Grilled bananas are fantastic served with homemade pudding. Grilled watermelon is lovely with pound cake. On and on.


                                1. re: MMRuth

                                  Yes MM, I use I don't know if it is called a fish grill, but know what you mean. It is just a fine metal grate for the grill. Can put small shrimp, small veggies, lots of stuff. I spray the grill with pam, the regular oil or just brush with canola oil. Also I love to marinade. A mix of a little oj, lime juice and ginger is great. apple juice and ginger with pears is wonderful. Lime with pineapple. Cinnimon or cloves with pears is amazing apples too. Ginger with mango and pineapple juice. I never really plan a flavor unless entertaining but the other night I did nutmeg over mango with a little oj. You can also do savory, lime, garlic and thyme for papays, mango or pears. Avacados are great. Peaches with cinnimon, nutmeg and lime. Use a little brown sugar in marinades for some sweetness, honey with lime and ginger, garlic. Don't be afraid of flavor. I know you understand flavors so have fun with them. CITRUS i PAN GRILL OR SAUTE INSIDE BUT DON'T LIKE IT GRILLED AS MUCH as the other fruits. I don't think there are many fruits I haven't grilled. I love the traditional ones to offer a new take with them, plums, nectarines, papayas, all varieties of pears. Bananas are wonderful with cinnimon and honey.

                                  FYI, in all my marinades I like don't use oil, but always spray or wipe with oil first and not olive oil, just canola or vegetable oil.

                                  NOTE: Mangos and avacados I cut the halves in thirds. They grill easier as not toO thin. The rest grill easily cut in slices. Skewered works great too.

                                  I use my grill pan with ridges inside all the time for grilled fruit.

                                  How long ... avacados and bananas not long, I grill on each side just a minute or two medium high heat. Pears, apples you can grill longer. Absolutely outside is better with the flavor but inside still works for the texture and taste, just not the smoky flavor you get. Grill usually at the end of my meal but what I like is the fruit doesn't have to be served hot or warm. Cool or room temp is just fine. The texture is what makes it. Grilled salsa is amazing but so is just grilled fruit over pound cake angel food cake, ice cream or yogurt with granola or just simply over fresh fish

                                  And FYI, GHG below mentioned to me leaving the skin on when I grill avacados, I haven't tried it yet but that would work, I just always have my thin grate which I use all the time on my grill so I like to slice mine. But I will try in the skin. And good point GHG, I do grill my bananas in the skin. Sometimes not when I marinade, but leave it on at times.

                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                    We grill pineapple chunks on metal or wood skewers. If you don't want to use olive oil, spray with a bit of PAM. Peaches and plums are best just cut in half and placed on the grill flesh side down, also sprayed with PAM.

                                    If you want to serve the fruit with a savory dish, brush with a little bit of olive oil and balsamic. I also eat that for dessert, but might not be sweet enough for some.

                                    A tip- get yourself a long pair of tongs. If you're grilling a whole grill full of fruit, it's much easier to flip everything if your face is far away from the heat.

                              3. leave out the bacon in this recipe. It is gooooood and people like it.

                                EASY BAKED BEANS
                                Source: Better Homes & Gardens

                                4 slices bacon
                                1chopped onion
                                3 (1-pound) cans vegetarian baked beans
                                2 1/2 Tbsp. brown sugar
                                1 1/2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
                                1 tsp. prepared mustard
                                1/3 cup ketchup

                                • Preheat oven to 325° F.
                                • Cook bacon until crisp; drain, reserving 2 tablespoons drippings.
                                • Crumble bacon.
                                • Cook onion in drippings until tender; add with bacon to beans, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and prepared mustard and ketchup; mix well.
                                • Bake uncovered in 2 quart casserole for 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 hours.

                                1. If the food won't be sitting out too long, broccoli salad (it has mayo and bacon). Believe it or not, kids love it, and I once saw a teenager asked his mom if they could take home leftovers. Can be made ahead and stashed in the fridge:

                                  3 large stalks broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces (I include some of the trunks)
                                  1/2 red bell pepper, 1/2" dice
                                  1/2 red onion, cut into crescents
                                  1/2 c golden raisins
                                  1/2 c slivered almonds, dry-toasted in a skillet till light brown
                                  10 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional)


                                  1 c mayo
                                  2 Tbsp cider vinegar
                                  1/4 c sugar

                                  Mix all the salad ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk the dressing ingredients in another bowl, then pour over the salad and toss. (If you skip the bacon, it's vegetarian, and if you sub vegannaise for mayo, it's vegan.)

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: Erika L

                                    That is a great dish, I make it often. I use a mix of cauliflower and broccoli and no raisins but that is only because my son didn't like them. But It is a great salad. It doesn't do well in heat like Florida picnics or beach parties but anything up north and evening potlucks it would be wonderful.

                                    Always a hit, thx Erika for remembering it. I haven't made it in a while.

                                    1. re: kchurchill5

                                      that's a favorite of mine too...but like your son, i don't like raisins so i use dried currants instead. if you want to take it over the top, blend some crumbled bleu cheese into the dressing, it's fantastic.

                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                        Nice touch haven't done that ... Gorgonzola for me, not a big bleu fan but trying to be. In moderation. Gorgonzola I can handle most times. Like the currants a bit a sweetness, even cranberries.

                                        Cranberries, broccoli, seedless cucumber, white onion, walnuts and a light gorgonzola dressing is also one I make. Easy and good and very similar but not as creamy or completely tossed. Just light dressing. Not a heavy coating light the other salad.

                                        1. re: kchurchill5

                                          Gorgonzola *is* bleu...so you've already got it :)

                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                            I know, but bleu always is so much stronger to me and gorg is that "bit " milder it seems. Maybe just imagination

                                        2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                          yeah, hate raisins so I use dried cranberries. I've also used cherries. And I like to throw in some slivered almonds.

                                      2. re: Erika L

                                        paula deen has a good recipe like the one posted.

                                      3. I make a Sweet and Crunchy Salad that contains one bag of cole slaw mix, two packets of ramen noodles (softened for 15 minutes in warm water), a can of mandarin oranges, a can of diced water chestnuts, a bunch of sliced scallions, a 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds and a 1/2 cup or cashews, tossed in a dressing of oil, vinegar, sugar, and the 2 seasoning packets from the ramen noodles. Quick and easy. (Best chilled a couple of hours first.)