Of all the things I love the potlucks (seeing friends, sharing food, only having to make a single dish instead of an entire meal), I think my favorite aspect is the opportunity to try food from other home cooks.
While I like my own cooking, I find it woefully easy to fall into flavor and ingredient ruts. Eating food made by friends and neighbors is can be an opportunity reset weary taste buds and get excited about cooking again (of course, this all depends on the people who are attending your potluck. It can certainly be hit-or-miss).
This salad is an example of inspiration delivered via potluck. A couple winters back, I was at one and towards the end of the evening, someone brought a metal mixing bowl filled with tender lettuce, slivers of onion and wedges of persimmon. Dressed simply and very lightly salted, it knocked my socks off. I went back for thirds and made plans to imitate it immediately. Since that night, this salad goes into steady rotation the moment persimmons arrives.
My current version consists of a large bowl of red leaf lettuce*, a whole Fuyu persimmon (click here to see a illustrated piece on the different kinds of persimmons) cut into wedges and a couple tablespoons crumbled chevre. Some days, I’ll add shaved red onion and some toasted nuts, too. I put a little olive oil, fruity vinegar, salt and pepper into a quarter pint jar, shake until combined and drizzle over everything. Makes for a delicious lunch!
*I always buy a head and wash it myself. Makes for much fresher tasting salads than the pre-washed and bagged stuff, and it’s cheaper, too. Tear, wash and dry a whole head (I love my salad spinner for this). Bag it up and eat from it for 2-3 days. It’s one of those tasks that is easy to dread, but ends up taking less than ten minutes if you’re quick about it.
Have you discovered a new dish at a potluck that you’ve made your own?
My favorite salad is one a friend always brings to pot lucks. She has many variations and says she was inspired by a salad served at Cosi. (I find it difficult to imagine a chain restaurant inspiring a wonderful homemade salad, but hey, I’m not looking a gift horse in the mouth – or some such cliche). Anyway, the salad includes fresh salad greens, cucumbers, crumbled blue cheese, grape or cherry tomatoes, dried cranberries, red grapes cut in half, roasted pistachios, and a fruity or citrusy homemade dressing. You can add lots of other salad veggies too. Like the salad you describe, it’s simple and wonderful – a great addition to any pot luck.
I’ve actually had that salad from Cosi and can vouch for its deliciousness. I should try to recreate that one sometime myself!
My friend did the same thing to me, but the greens and persimmon came with manchego and almonds. Persimmons are definitely having a moment!
Persimmons deserve the attention they’ve been getting. They are just so good and a welcome relief this time of year when there isn’t much other fruit.
I am always discovering new things at pot lucks because I work with people from many different countries (at a university). I love it – it’s so much fun and very inspirational! I have really been enjoying persimmons this year.
Amy, I’m feeling more than a little jealous of your potlucks!
Had this tonight. Fantastic! The combination of goat cheese and persimmon is amazing. Also added a bit of shaved red onion.
So glad you tried it and liked it!
What a lovely salad! It really looks delightful. I know what you mean about getting into a “flavor rut” – sometimes I get incredibly bored with my own cooking.
I have never tried a persimmon. The salad looks wonderful!
You know: I’ve never had a persimmon. This salad is very tempting though… one of these days!
Persimmon is great with pomegranite seeds too in a spinach salad w/a soy-based dressing). One recent discovery is a roasted caprese salad, roasted tomatoes sinces they’re not currently in season. Any excuse to enjoy fresh mozzarella, it’s on!
Beautiful salad! I have to say, most salads at potlucks tend to disappoint – macaroni, potato….I’m not sure if I’ve been inspired to adopt any. 😉
Another variation I’ve found for winter salads is sliced fuyu persimmons mixed with
sliced purple cabbage, mixed with a little Italian dressing and topped with crumbled
goat or feta cheese and pomegranate seeds. Very colorful for winter days and goes well with a hearty soup.
What type of bag do you store your lettuce/greens in? If ziplock-style do you wash & re-use them? I love keeping my greens waiting in my salad spinner, until I need to wash and spin something else (like cilantro) but haven’t used the greens yet.