Covered-Dish Crowd Pleaser
A cool pasta salad with Southwestern flavors is something everyone will enjoy.
Some people call them potlucks or potlatches. In the Carolinas, we call them covered dishes, but the concept is the same: All guests are to bring a shareable prepared dish to accompany the main meat dish, which is typically provided by the host. As you know, these events can be quite filling because it is considered impolite if you don’t sample everyone’s dish.
Deciding what to bring is a fine line to walk because you want to offer something everyone will eat —and these days people have so many dietary restrictions. Plus, you want it to pair nicely with the host’s main dish. The final trick is bringing just enough to feed everyone but not having any leftovers to take home or clean up.
Once a month a group of my friends and I take turns meeting at each other’s homes for time together and a covered-dish dinner. Our ages vary, our food allergies and diets differ, and some people have kids and some don’t. So it can be difficult to bring a dish that everyone will enjoy.
The couple who hosted last month made fish tacos. One couple elected to bring churros, another brought mango salsa, and someone else signed up to bring sangria. My spouse and I decided to bring Tex-Mex Pasta Salad, and it was a hit! Not only was it colorful and pleasing to the eye, but also it tasted cool and fresh and paired really well with everything else.
My spouse eats gluten-free due to an allergy, so I made this with gluten-free pasta and no one even knew. The kids don’t care much for really spicy foods, so I didn’t use as much chipotle pepper as I would have preferred, but again, I was trying to please a crowd. I mixed the Chipotle Lime Sour Cream Sauce in with the pasta salad, but you could also offer it on the side. Feel free to make this your own. If you don’t like onion, use green peppers instead. If you don’t like cilantro, use parsley as a substitute.
Although I like to impress people with the dishes I create and bring to covered-dish parties, I also want to satisfy everyone. For your next covered dish, choose this colorful, refreshing salad and I promise that it will disappear quickly!
Photography by James Stefiuk