(Original image courtesy of Jill Chen)

4 Easy Ways to Perfect the Potluck

Potlucks are a great way to get your favourite people together for a feast that won’t leave you starved for cash. Each guest contributes one dish to the meal; someone’s aunt’s “famous” dip recipe usually makes an appearance alongside another guest’s signature cocktail, a baked pasta bubbles away in the middle, and the meal is often topped off with a store-bought dessert.

Note: nobody likes the guest who whizzed through the packaged produce aisle while everyone else slaved away in the kitchen! Save that for your weeknight book club meeting where the culinary expectations are minimal.

Everybody’s got a specialty or potluck go-to, but the culmination of guests’ mystery dishes doesn’t always make for a well-balanced meal.

Take control of your next community-cooked party by choosing a single dish that everyone can contribute an ingredient to. Choosing a simple and familiar dish is kind of like working with a blank canvas; guests can feel free to keep it traditional or bring along exotic ingredients to spice things up.

Here are four approachable, much-loved and easy dishes to plan your next potluck around:

1. Pizza A couple balls of white or whole-grain pizza dough
are the perfect vessels for any ingredient under the sun. Hosts should
portion the dough out for each guest beforehand and provide at least two
sauce and cheese options. Guests can bring along toppers from roasted
chicken to tater tots, bruschetta to fresh herbs. Don’t think this is
just for dinner either! Sweet pizzas topped with chocolate sauce,
berries and chopped nuts can keep the party going for an extra course or

2. Sandwiches This is the best thing since sliced bread! Potluck hosts can have a
variety of breads (baguettes, slider buns, naan), condiments and basic
toppings laid out to start. Almost anything goes between the buns, so
whether your guests arrive with meatballs, butter chicken, or eggplant parmesan, you can turn it into a finger-friendly party dish.

3. Soup Potluck or Top Chef throwdown? Turn your next gethering into a Chopped-style challenge like Dine Out Vancouver’s Chef Soup Experiment, where fifty chefs contributed random ingredients that somehow had to be balanced and simmered into a delicious soup. Missed it? Check it out on @DineOutVan’s takeover of our Instagram feed! This is the riskiest of the four potluck options when it comes to flavour, but it is a guaranteed good time.

4. Baked Potato It’s the side that eats like a meal. Whether Russet or sweet, potatoes
are a hearty base for a potluck plate. Guests can load them up with chili, quinoa salads, cheeses, and even topped with eggs. The only thing that limits you here is your imagination!