Family reunions, neighborhood potlucks. and church gatherings. What do they all have in common? Don’t say crazy Aunt Erma. I’m talking about the food of course! Specifically SALADS, which are perfect for summer potlucks.
I know what you’re thinking: We’re all about the meat at these group gatherings, right? While camping and reunion-ing with my giant family (in the photo, that’s me in the middle with 4 of my 6 sisters), hot dogs and hamburgers reign king and queen. At block parties the meat-eating fare is more sophisticated: grilled chicken or even ribs might turn up and surprise you. While at church or school dinner nights; spaghetti bakes are common. But in my world there’s almost always baked brisket or tri-tip (a cut of beef from the sirloin) —YUM!
Now that your mouth is watering, let’s talk about those salads? What to bring? Green salad? Pasta salad? Fruit salad? Because I certainly don’t want to bring the same thing as 6 other people (how embarrassing). So, here are the best of the best in my book.
My Top 5 Favorite Potluck Salads
1. Chinese Cabbage Salad. This is my new amazing FAVORITE salad. I plan to bring it to every potluck all summer long. Even my kids beg for this. Since I’m not a huge fan of coleslaw, but love cabbage, skip the sweet creamy dressing and go for a rice wine vinegar-style dish with lots of crunchy add-ins instead (BTW, toasting the sesame seeds, almonds, and ramen noodles in butter first will pretty much insure a blue ribbon win at your next group gathering. Fat free? NO.)
2. Broccoli Salad. My second favorite salad. The dressing is very simple: rice wine vinegar with a little bit of mayo and sugar. It’s easy to experiment with or dress up each time you make it—try different nuts, seeds, raisins, Craisins, bacon, red onion, green onions, apples, and all sorts of different cheeses. My special GoodNCrazy tip: Peel and slice the inside stalk of broccoli and toss in the salad; I’m surprised how much I like the “heart” of broccoli.
3. Green Jell-O With Cottage Cheese Salad. It shows where I’m from (Utah), but I’m a sucker for anything with cottage cheese in it. People put all sorts of wacky things in this type of salad. I’m happy with a few fruits (apples and pineapple), and adding whipped cream in with the Jell-O after it’s partially set.
4. Angry Taco Salad. This is the perfect way to use up leftover taco meat. The best variation I know for this salad starts with seasoned hamburger. Add shredded lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, and then top the mixture with a WHOLE bag of crunched up Nacho Doritos (YUM, huh?). Stir it all together and then… wait for it… the secret ingredient: add one-half to a whole bottle of store-bought French dressing. I’ll admit that the dressing threw me at first, but trust me and give it a chance. People will be all—“WHO made that salad?!” and “What’s the secret?!” And you can tell them…or not. (Recipe courtesy of my friend @AngryJulie!)
5. Acini de Pepe Salad (also known as Frog Eye Salad in my world). This salad is a staple at my huge family reunions. It’s like an Ambrosia salad with mini pasta dots, pudding, whipped cream, pineapple, and coconut. It makes a HUGE vat of salad and feeds literally hundreds of people.
So there you have it—5 fabulous summer salads. Now, share with me…what’s your favorite summer salad?