Friday, April 15, 2011

Emergency Entertaining

Last night Anna came home and said that tomorrow her school were going to be spending the day at a campground - that much was known - and that I was signed up to bring a salad.

I've had to grow pretty adept at this kind of last minute catering, and I bring you my #1 crowd-pleasing, ready in 2 minutes salad/appetizer/potluck dish. Shamelessly cobbled from Sunset Magazine it is so easy that a culinary clown such as myself can shine. I always keep mini mozzarella balls (Ciliegine) in my fridge - they last for ever and are rarely the victim of a midnight snack cull from my husband. Baby tomatoes are also a staple in this household, being one of the few psuedo-vegetables my girls will eat. They are a no-prep lunchbox godsend. The rest is simple, assemble with a sliver of basil in between, dress (optional) with a wave of balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and 'Herbes de Provence' to really push the boat out.

The only hard thing is to go shopping for the little wooden skewers - called cocktail sticks in the UK. Just you try asking for 'cocktail sticks' in your average Ralphs or Vons and you will be trawling the alcoholic beverage aisle in vain. In the US they are called 'party picks' which is much more prohibition-friendly and they are in the paper plate aisle.

Could I have made this any easier for you??! Do you want me to hold your hand?

Amazingly, these colourful, quasi-healthy snacks are a bone of contention with LK. Because LK does not like tomatoes, and bridles every time we turn up to a hastily-convened picnic or event with said snack. He wants to know why my signature dish excludes him so entirely. To which - I mean come on - I have to reply, when he is ready to whip up a strawberry walnut salad with goddess dressing on the fly, or a health-conscious, child-friendly appetizer that is not goldfish, then he's more than welcome. I mean seriously - when was the last time you attended a 'potluck' event at a school and a bloke had provided more than 10 hot dogs and some lighter fluid?

Tomato-basil-mozzarella skewers. Your new summer dish. Guaranteed to charm your friends and irritate your loved ones. It doesn't get better than that.

Do you have any last-minute crowd-pleasers you'd like to share? I would give you complete credit of course. If you happened to be at the same party as me.


Rachel said...

Those are also magnificent with avocado. Not that the ingrate deserves it, but you could switch the tomato for avocado on some of them if you want to shut him up. :)

I do platters like that with slices of mozarella, tomato and avocado with red basil leaves, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic. They're messier than the ones on skewers, but you get to use so many brilliant varieties of large heirloom tomato.

Lara said...

I do the caprese skewers too, but my other favorite easy salad is simply watermelon cubes mixed with feta, drizzled with olive oil, and seasoned with salt and pepper. Always a pleaser.

Almost American said...

Ooh - I like that recipe!

I have a black bean and corn salad that always seems to go over well, though a) it involves a fair amount of chopping of peppers and onions (though the can opening is easy!) and b) it's not my recipe but my husband's as he's the exception to your rule about men not providing yummy things for pot lucks!

Elsie Button said...

that combo is a winner every time - love it!
it's funny, both my girls have always refused to eat tomatoes, that and lettuce. which is a bit gutting as they are about the only thing i can grow :-(

Nimble said...

Beautiful and sophisticated! My fail safe kid friendly potluck offering is a big fruit salad. Nothing too squishy and some berries on top for color. A little lemon juice and honey for dressing. It's colorful and healthy.

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Anonymous said...

Green lentil salad, with feta and red onions. If you have tomatoes and celery then it looks even better, and I just throw together a mustard vinagrette to dress it with.

My problem with potlucks is I always bring a vegetarian option like this, and then my husband will bake a bloody impressive dessert. There is no glamour in being the woman who did the roast brussel sprouts, all the more so if you are married to the guy who made the almond cake with a fresh raspberry sauce.

AliBlahBlah said...

Yum, they all sound delicious - and relatively simple. I'll definitely give the lentil one a shot - we have a rogue vegetarian at book club which has shaken things up a little......