Summer Potluck Dishes To Withstand The Heat And Please Crowds : The Salt Say you're headed to an outdoor cookout or barbecue or a family reunion but you don't want to show up empty-handed. What do you bring? Chefs Edward Lee, Amy Thielen and James Rigato offer suggestions.
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Summer Potluck Dishes To Withstand The Heat And Please Crowds

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Summer Potluck Dishes To Withstand The Heat And Please Crowds

Summer Potluck Dishes To Withstand The Heat And Please Crowds

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Here's a summer challenge. You're going to a cookout or a barbecue or a family reunion. You need to bring a dish to share. And it has to do two things.


Number one, withstand hours outside in the heat. And number two, make some hungry people happy.

SIEGEL: Stumped? No worries. To help you out, we asked three chefs for their suggestions.

JAMES RIGATO: My name is James Rigato. I'm the chef owner of Mabel Gray in Hazel Park, Mich. And I have a charred cauliflower with tahini vinaigrette, hot pepper jelly, crispy garlic and mint. I find that cauliflower is a pretty neutral vegetable that enjoys the contribution of char and spice and the kind of creaminess that the tahini offers. And this is one of the dishes that'll be great sitting out for a long period time. And it's a little bit of a relief from the protein, sauce-heavy, smoky kind of barbecue mentality.

So when you go to a barbecue, there's probably a point when the fire's a little too strong for the ribs or, you know, the chicken or whatever item they're going to be grilling. So you're going to have too hot of a fire for a protein, but it's perfect for the cauliflower. So if you prep your tahini vinaigrette, if you prep your hot pepper jelly, crispy garlic, mint, have that all ready to go, show up to the barbecue a little early, you have the opportunity to grill that cauliflower over what would be too hot of a flame for the rest of the meal. So you can kind of get there first, assemble your dish. And while everyone else is trying to piece together their meal, you're already there, halfway through a bottle of rose with your dish done.

I've done this dish a number of times in the restaurant and, you know, family style. This is a crowd pleaser. It's gluten-free. It's vegan. It's wonderful when it's warm. It's delicious at room temp. And honestly, you can toss all the ingredients together, put in the fridge and eat chilled for lunch for the next day.

AMY THIELEN: My new favorite bring-along for potlucks, barbecues or family gatherings is also charred. But not the black kind, the green, leafy kind - Swiss chard baklava. I'm Amy Thielen, a chef and a writer and the author of "Give A Girl A Knife." Every summer, I grow a lot of Swiss chard in my garden. And it comes on so strong that I have to figure out things to make with it.

So I like this recipe because it's stealthy healthy, meaning that its green goodness is hidden between two layers of crisp, brown filo pastry. Sometimes people are afraid to work with filo, but you can just stack it in layers. You don't have to brush each sheet with butter. You can just stack them up in just five big clumps and then pour butter over everything later. This simplifies the process so much and makes it very quick to come together.

Swiss chard baklava is a dish that when you bring it people will say, what is in this? What did you use to make this so delicious? And my answer would be caramelized onions, just a little bit of sugar, toasted almonds, ras el hanout, which is a Moroccan spice blend - it's just really a combination of spices you have in your cabinet. But you can use garam masala or curry powder. I mean, come on, this is just summer.

EDWARD LEE: The idea of bread pudding is that you kind of use leftover bread. And I thought, what's the best kind of bread out there if not a donut? I'm Chef Edward Lee from 610 Magnolia Restaurant in Louisville, Ky. And my bring-along dish is a glazed donut and sweet potato bread pudding. Donut bread pudding is going to be sweet. And that's where you temper it with the savory sweet potato. You mix that into a bread pudding and you'd be surprised how actually not overly sweet the final dessert is.

For this bread pudding, you can just do the bread pudding. But I really kind of elevate it a little bit by adding a crust to it using gingersnap cookies, which gives it a beautiful crunch and a little bit of spice that's going to sort of offset against the sweetness of the dessert. At my restaurant, I serve this dessert neatly punched out and with this gorgeous little meringue topping. And that's great if you want to serve it in an upscale setting.

But if you're taking this for a bring-along, I would maybe suggest doing something with maybe marshmallows. If you want to get fancy you even toast them on the top so they're kind of, like, s'moresy (ph). And then just a little bit of fresh orange segments, a little bit of chopped mint. And it can sit out for hours and it's still delicious.

SIEGEL: That's Edward Lee. We also heard from two other chefs, James Rigato and Amy Thielen. You can find their recipes for glazed donut and sweet potato pudding, charred cauliflower and Swiss chard baklava at

SHAPIRO: So why stop there? If you have a great summer bring-along dish that's perfect for outdoor parties and get-togethers, we want to hear about it. Email with the subject Summer Dish.

SIEGEL: And we'll share some of your suggestions and recipes later next month.


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