Potluck Dinner Party, part 1

January 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

Tonight, friends, I am attending a potluck dinner.  Going to one of these reminds me of my childhood, specifically of my elementary education days attending a Catholic school.  There would be school fundraisers requiring various dishes be brought in, the ingredients of which would be determined by last name.  My family usually got stuck with bringing fruits or vegetables.  In the great state of Texas, that often means a casserole with tons of cheese, cream of something soup, and a crunchy topping.  Nothing remotely healthy about it.  Delicious, yes; possibility of containing actual vegetables, slim to none.  To contrast what others brought in, Mom always made a big fruit salad, filled with apples, oranges, bananas, strawberries, grapes, and sometimes, canned pineapple.  She would bring fruit salad to every potluck dinner/lunch, so after a while, she brought something else, just to change it up.  Oh, the uproar.  The most notable occasion of this occurring was a family Easter potluck-buffet luncheon.

“But Jane, you always bring the fruit salad!  It’s the only healthy thing here!  I eat some just to balance out all this other heavy food!”  It’s ridiculous, I know.  Also, some people won’t eat fruit salad without Cool Whip.  Which negates most of the healthiness of the fruit salad.  It’s a vicious cycle.

So now, Mom is kind of stuck in a food rut that she can’t get out of.  She is bound to make fruit salad for all time.  It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but variety is the spice of life.  Is there something out there that is a decent alternative to fruit salad and the plethora of cheesy casseroles?

Yes, friends, there is.

I call it “Secret” Slaw.  I found the recipe while perusing a Real Simple magazine, and thought to myself, “Now that is a good way to be sneaky.  I’ll make it.  They’ll eat it.  Then I will blow their minds.”  This dish looks remarkably like a light coleslaw: it’s got thin strips of green stuff, a tangy dressing, and just a little crunch.  And it is delicious.  Friends, I shall tell you the secret, but you must promise not to tell your picky party goers what it is, exactly.  They would not go near it, or even try to be friends with it.

The main ingredient is Brussels’ sprouts.

Shock! Awe! Bewilderment! Disbelief!

But author, you say, those are nasty.  I have tried them and been grossed out time and time again.  Nothing can change my mind.  They are slimy.  They are weird. 

I promise that this recipe will convince you otherwise.  Just try to think of the sprouts as baby cabbages.  Little, baby-like things are cute, right?  Of course they are.  Also, quite tasty.

I changed the recipe just a tad from the Real Simple original

“Secret” Slaw

1 1/2 lb Brussels’ Sprouts

3 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp white Balsamic vinegar

1 decently sized shallot, diced

1 Tbsp poppy seeds

Salt and pepper

Thinly slice the Brussels’ sprouts, preferably in a super secret area where no one can see you.  I sliced each one in half vertically, then kind of julienned each half.  If you have a fancy food processor with a slicing blade, that’ll work too.  Also, make sure that little, hard, rooty bit at the base gets trimmed off and discarded.  Nobody likes that part.

Get out a fairly big skillet.  Add the oil to the pan, and heat to medium-high.  Toss in the diced shallot, and saute until translucent.  Add in the sliced sprouts.  Don’t be afraid of the volume.  They will shrink down.  Add in a bit of salt and pepper.  Toss with tongs (or with the pan if you’ve got the skills) for 3 to 6 minutes.  The sprouts are gonna tenderize just a little.  Once they’ve reached the desired level of tenderness, dump the whole thing into a serving dish.  Add in the vinegar and poppy seeds.  Toss some more, and serve to 8 of your unsuspecting friends.

Wait until they’ve eaten everything (and asked for seconds) to explain the secret.  Watch their minds explode.  It could get a bit messy.

I’ve only had this when it’s still warm from the pan, but I bet it could hold up as a cold dish.


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