This post is sponsored by the folks at the Oregon Raspberry & Blackberry Commission. Nobody grows berries like Oregon does!
All week now, I’ve had potlucks on the brain. It’s in part because I’ve been reading potluck-centric comments all week on that The Homemade Kitchen giveaway (have you entered yet?). However, it’s also because with fall-like weather finally here, it just feels like the time to make a shareable dish, and gather with friends to eat.
Whenever I plan a dish to bring for a potluck, there are a few things I keep in mind. First in my mind is to make something flexible, that could make up the bulk of a meal (if offerings are sparse) but that can also be comfortably eaten alongside a wide array of other items. To me, that means that I want to make something that includes both a vegetable and a protein, but that isn’t too strongly flavored.
I also want to plan something that can travel well, needs minimal assembly, holds up well at room temperature, doesn’t take up too much space on the table, and can be eaten with a fork (there’s also a subset of things I consider when taking food allergies into account).
What this typically means is that I often opt for either sturdy salads, a whole grain bake, or if I’m rushed for time, a multigrain baguette, a log of goat cheese, and a jar of jam or chutney (what good is a homemade pantry if you don’t use it?).
When it comes to building a salad to take to a potluck, I have a steadfast formula. First, I pick a tasty green base (young kale, baby arugula, chopped romaine hearts, or a combination of all three). Then I choose something sweet (berries, apple slices, slivers of pear, or roasted beets are some favorites).
Finally, I choose a protein source (cheese, nuts, tofu, or chicken), something creamy (cheese or avocado, mostly), something crunchy (slivered onions, nuts or seeds, cucumbers, or carrots) and a dressing (homemade vinaigrettes made with fruit shrubs are the best).
This time of year, most of us think that we have to wave goodbye to berries on our salads, but thanks to the clever folks at the Oregon Raspberry and Blackberry Commission, I’ve learned a trick for defrosting frozen berries that keeps them whole and perfect for tossing into salads.
Essentially, you spread the berries out on a lined plate (paper towel or clean kitchen rag), and the use the defrost setting on your microwave in short spurts, until the berries lose their frostiness. It’s impressively effective and the berries keep their shape beautifully.
I wasn’t on top of things enough this summer to freeze local berries, but have been employing this microwave trick to prep frozen Stahlbush Island Farms berries for my salads. As a former Oregonian, I love knowing that I’m eating berries from my beloved home state.
The salad you see above included baby arugula, slivered almonds, sliced shallots, raspberries and Marionberries, crumbled feta, and a dressing of blueberry shrub, olive oil, salt, and pepper. While it was big enough to take to a potluck, this was one I didn’t share. I ate the whole thing for lunch instead.
For more information about Oregon raspberries and blackberries, look for the commission on Facebook, Twitter, or by searching the hashtag #ORberries.
Disclosure: The Oregon Raspberry & Blackberry Commission is the sponsor of this post. They provided the berries, the OXO salad dressing shaker, and covered ingredient costs. All my opinions are my own and I’m honored to shine a spotlight on the berries grown in Oregon.
Good idea on defrosting the berries! I’ll keep it in mind for all the upcoming holiday meals too.
Great formula. I do much the same, but I kind of appreciate having it systemized, like a checklist.
Great post!!! This is my kind of salad, I make a similar dressing, love it!
I Wish I I had some right now. Thanks for the post.