When it comes potluck salads, I love empty bowls.Salads / October 10, 2016
You know that feeling as you prep for a party. You’re asked to bring something to a potluck. You are not given direction as to what genre your food should fit into. You’re not even given an idea of the dress code! So aside from the perilous wardrobe challenge, now you have to decide on a crowd-pleasing dish to bring. Oh, and no pressure, they all know you’re an amateur chef!!! (Pant, pant.) My point is that your goal in this endeavor is to create something that everyone eats, which is tough. There’s NOTHING worse than collecting your dish and spoon at the end of the evening and finding that YOUR food was rejected and you take some home! AARGH!!!
There are no secret dishes that will always find their way into the hearts of strangers, and I took some real chances with this one. For instance, I could have discovered that everyone had a shellfish allergy. Or, it could have been that no one really cared for mushrooms. (I’m not sure I trust people who don’t “get” mushrooms, but that’s another blog post.) And the worst of all? This could have been a room full of people with a gluten intolerance. (That blog post will really take up some space!)
Lucky for me, or for the guests if you look at it from the perspective of satisfaction, this salad seemed to be an overwhelming success.
There are a few flavor cues here I want to talk about. Because flavor cues, (isn’t that an awesome term?) end up giving you some solid direction for the whole dish. If you’re looking for Asian, or spicy, or crunchy, or sweet, you can build upon those ideals. In my case, I wanted a bright, spicy salad. Thai flavors are so fun and blend with most other foods.
And can I just say what a miracle food ramen noodles are. Curly, sturdy, thin, versatile and affordable! Yeah!!! They’re so cheap you don’t even have to keep the flavor packet! (But I do. They’re great for salad dressings!)
And don’t be afraid of herbs. This one combines basil and mint and both completely complemented the dish.
I talked about mushrooms and you may wonder why I added them. First of all, you find a LOT of mushrooms in Asian cooking. Their umami flavor is perfect against the spicy notes. And the texture is fun in your mouth alongside the peppers and cukes. What made them great was sauteing them in butter along with a plethora of Asian spices, and then adding it to the cold salad. Yeah, looks gorgeous, too!
So here’s the happy news: The serving bowl was totally empty at the end of the party. (Phew, reputation intact!)
More good news? It was really easy to make. And the best news of all? You can make it, too. The recipe is below!