Pickles and Potlucks

December 19, 2011(updated on October 3, 2018)


After a very early morning wake-up call, I landed in Portland yesterday afternoon to spend the holidays with my parents. So far, I’ve done nothing but catch up on sleep and tag along to a pair of seasonal potlucks.

Though my mom is a fine cook, in recent years, I’ve become her potluck consultant (she claims that after a lifetime of inventing dishes, she’s out of ideas). Regularly, she calls me when she needs some fresh inspiration. And when I’m in town, it becomes my responsibility to help dream up and prepare our potluck contributions.

pickles for potluck

Knowing that more than a few of you might be looking for side dishes and items for shared meals in the coming week or two, I thought I might share what I came up with over the last two nights.

On Saturday, we cut carrots and parsnips into sticks (two pounds of each), tossed them with olive oil, minced rosemary, salt and pepper and spread them out on a cookie sheet in single layers. Roasted at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes and turned at least once, they turn into crisp, caramelized nuggets of root vegetable goodness. To serve, I heaped them into a casserole dish and topped them with some chopped parsley, plucked moments before from my mom’s garden.


For tonight’s offering, we took a dish of mashed potatoes and kabocha squash. They get stirred together with beaten eggs, a bit of butter, chopped fresh sage and two kinds of cheese. It is ridiculously decadent and good. I think it’s perfect for a potluck, because it’s the sort of thing that must be shared. It’s far too rich to have for just a couple of people, but I crave it this time of year and love that I can have a generous taste while not being responsible for eating the whole thing.

I also brought two jars of pickles from home for tonight’s party, because I knew it was a crowd that would appreciate them. And I heard more than one person exclaim excitedly when they saw the jar of pickled okra.

How have the rest of you been handling your holiday parties and potlucks this season?

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12 thoughts on "Pickles and Potlucks"

  • I love taking a jar of peach chutney or jam and a block of cream cheese. And this week is the annual Yule Bread baking week. Whatever bread we don’t eat goes to parties and friends.

  • Hi Marisa,
    Seems like I’ve been doing nothing but putting pretty labels on my jars of jam and chutney for the last few days, all ready to give as gifts to the relatives. We’ll be leaving for the folks on Friday morning early. Not looking forward to the drive but I’ll be taking some of my new recipes with me for them all to try. I reckon the Pear, Cranberry & Walnut is going to be the winner this year! But you never know with my lot – still I’ll take plenty of the trusty pickled onions they never fail to please.

  • We’re hosting Christmas dinner this year, and tomato jam with crackers and stinky cheese, dilly beans and pickled beets will be on the pre-dinner munching menu.

  • I’ve been charged with main dishes each party so far! Whole birds, hundreds of meatballs etc. I’d love to be able to do a nice roast veg or side casserole.

  • I had a pickle potluck for my birthday party a few weeks ago! One of my favorite combos is mac & cheese and pickles, so I made several trays of rich mac and cheese and opened a few of my pickles – zucchini, dilly bean, and traditional cucumber pickles, and I was amazed at the amount and variety of pickles my friends brought! Traditional sour mustard pickles, quick pickles, kim chi, sweet pickles.. and so on. There was even pickle art and one felted pickle!

  • How do you fly with your jars? I wish I could carry them onboard but they are definitley over the TSA 3oz. rule. How do you pack them in your check luggage and get them safely to your destination without breaking? I’m flying to my parent’s tonight and am bringing several jars for gifts. I plan to wrap them in dish towels and then in ziplock bags (in case of breakage) before strategicallyplacing them in the center of my suitcase surrounded by sweaters. Any tips?

    1. Michelle – I’m not Marisa but elsewhere on this blog there is a Canning 101 post on using bubble wrap for shipping jars. Maybe that would give you some additional ideas. I agree with the ziplock bags if you’re putting in luggage.

  • Hi Marissa:

    Since we’re both in town at the same time, I’d love to help you out with your potlucks and provide you with a few jars of random pickles, jams, and assorted stuff.

    I live in Sellwood and if you’re interested, please let me know… I’ve enjoyed reading your blog and have gotten so much from you ( and fellow readers) that I’d love to give to give a little back. ( I’d be even more grateful if you brought a sick pack of Yuengling with you :))


  • I made a huge batch of pickled beets this fall and I have been giving them to everyone as hostess gifts. My sister gave me her recipe for a yummy quiche with a potato crust that is an excellent pot luck dish. Also this one cheese… the goat gouda from Midnight Moon farm (I think that’s what its called) is a great treat to bring to a party when i don’t have time to cook.

  • It’s great to take cooked veggie side dishes to a potluck. There are always quite a number of vegetarians and vegans in our circle and they are so appreciative when they also find dishes they can enjoy. And the omnivores need veggies, too! This year for our solstice potluck I specifically asked people to bring vegetable side dishes. We always have plenty of desserts, but this year’s spread was really wonderful (and less cooking for me) with all the veggie dishes.

  • Oh yeah, my own veggie side dish contributions were scalloped potatoes and Emeril’s corn casserole. The scalloped potatoes were wiped out immediately. I make mine with a garlic bechamel sauce and no cheese (due to my husband’s current diet). They are awesome if I do say so myself. ;D But then scalloped potatoes always rock no matter how you make them.