So, last week was a class ‘Pot Luck’ evening at ours. I’m sure you know the score – everyone brings a dish to contribute and then we all share in indulging in the resulting enormous feast.
I’m not great at the ‘hey, let’s just see what will happen’ aspect of a Pot Luck – the fear of everyone bringing the same dish is the kind of thing that would keep me awake at night, so I applaud the ‘Pot’ bit, but I’m less inclined towards the ‘Luck’! A ‘designed’ Pot Luck was the answer, with the resulting perfect balance of starters, mains (vegi and not – just in case) and desserts to die for.
The weather in Dubai is bang on right now, so we spent the evening in the garden, with a roaring fire (which turned out to be entirely for atmospheric effect and not at all needed for warmth …). The wood burning aroma was pretty cool though.
A gorgeous evening was had by all and here’s what I learned about a Pot Luck –
- When you’re 8 years old, having your real-life, actual teacher come to your real-life, actual home in the evening is as exciting as it gets. Greeting her while wearing your pyjamas is less exciting. Being banished to bed just as the party is starting is completely rubbish.
- With a cold beer or a chilled glass of wine, homemade chicken liver pate and a dollop of chutney on some lovely fresh baguette ALWAYS hits the mark … and a pretty, layered Mexican dip with nachos does too. Irresistible – both of them.
- Cranberry juice and soda, served in a wine glass will make the drivers feel like they are truly partying. And they’ll have the upper hand in the morning too.
- We all love anything on the curry, chilli spectrum – especially with loads of fluffy white rice to soak up the juices.
- Bringing a curry in a slow cooker so it can be plugged in and kept warm is inspired. Every host will love you for that one.
- Real men DO eat quiche, especially when it’s of the yummy smoked salmon variety.
- No matter how much everyone has eaten, there’s always room for dessert – especially when there’s the option to have a bit of everything + cream + ice cream.
- You’ve got to admire the guys and gals who come to a Pot Luck while dieting and manage to maintain their resolve amidst all that temptation. I tip my virtual hat to you.
- It’s not always possible, but bringing your contribution in throw-away containers will allow you to leave the party with that secret smug feeling of knowing that for you there’ll be no need to chase up your china. It gets a big thumbs up from the hostess too. Alternatively, taking your dishes with you when you depart is good too – unless they are left behind filled with leftovers – then you’ll be the number 1 favourite guest for sure.
As the hostess, it was an easy evening – really no fuss at all – and of course my food contribution needed to be no fuss too. I made this Courgette, Feta and Mint Salad – a bit of a stunner when you serve it on a big, showy-offy platter – and also a Quinoa, Soya Bean and Avocado Salad.
And here’s why I’m certain that this salad will be your contribution at the next Pot Luck –
- I made it earlier in the day and it patiently waited in the fridge until the evening.
- No peeling, very little chopping. This is easy cooking.
- Frozen peas and beans straight from the bag. Big tick.
- I added the avocado at the last-minute to prevent browning, but no drama in that.
- Really healthy and packed with protein and other good things.
- It’s super pretty and is a beautiful, fresh, green addition to a buffet spread.
- Performs very nicely with fish – especially salmon – but also sits comfortably alongside BBQ meats, a curry or any vegetable dishes.
- Leftovers for next day’s lunch are a winner.
So, now I’m the number one fan of a Pot Luck and my hunch is that you could well be the number one fan of this salad. Am I right?
- 50g (2oz) quinoa
- 4 spring onions, finely chopped
- 100g (4oz) frozen soya (edamame beans)
- 100g (4oz) frozen peas
- ½ small bunch mint,chopped
- ½ small bunch parsley, chopped
- ¼ cucumber diced
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1 avocado, diced
- Cook the quinoa following the instructions on the pack. Drain and rinse with cold water. Allow to drain thoroughly.
- Blanch the soya beans and frozen peas in boiling water for 2 minutes or until they are a little tender - don't let them get too soft. Drain them and rinse with cold water. Allow to drain thoroughly.
- Tip the spring onions, soya beans, peas, mint, parsley and cucumber into the quinoa and mix well.
- Place the lemon juice and the cumin in a screw top jar and drizzle in some olive oil. Taste to check the seasoning and add more olive oil if the dressing is too lemony.
- Slowly add the dressing to the quinoa stirring well as you go. Taste as you go along - you may find that you don't need all of the dressing ... it depends how lemony you like your salads.
- Just before serving, sprinkle the avocado over the salad and toss gently.