Potluck politics: Guest post by Aviva Goldfarb

Potluck Politics

(Lemon Basil Summer Pasta Salad Recipe)

Guest Post by Aviva Goldfarb, CEO, The Six O’Clock Scramble (www.thescramble.com)

When you go to a potluck at somebody’s house, have you ever thought about who should keep any leftovers of the dish you brought?  Should you bring them home because you made the food, or should the host keep leftovers because s/he hosted the party?  Many people have strong feelings about this subject!

I took an informal poll of friends, relatives and subscribers to my newsletter, The Six O’Clock Scramble, about potluck etiquette.  According to one Scramble subscriber, “It depends on why you’ve gone.  If you seek the favor of your host (i.e., it’s your boss or a prospective client) and your cooking seems to have been appreciated by the guests, leave the leftovers.  On the other hand, if no one has touched your food, it would probably be most graceful to remove it.” (I know when I’ve made a potluck contribution that flops, like my recent French couscous salad with beets, I’m more than happy to haul it away to spare my hosts that job!)

Most members of my focus group felt that leftovers should at least be offered to the host.  However, if the leftovers in question were dessert, both hosts and guests hoped others would whisk them away to spare them the temptation.  As subscriber Tammie Kincaid put it, “Please take the food back to your house—it looks much better on your back-side than mine!”

In a recent advice column in our newspaper, a guest at a potluck was incensed when she went into the kitchen to collect her dish, and the host was labeling all the leftovers and putting them in her own refrigerator!  I think what really set off this guest is that the host didn’t take the time to perform the “courtesy dance” about the leftovers before deciding to keep them.  Many of us, afraid to appear rude or pushy, have trouble saying what we really want, whether it’s about leftovers, carpools, or an assignment at work.  So we perform a ritual dance, trying to be polite but also trying to ascertain what the other person really wants—after all, maybe she really didn’t like the dish I brought!  (Or, as my mother-in-law, Barbara Goldfarb put it, “If she doesn’t ask for the recipe, and ooh and ahh over my dish, it’s been a failure–Take it home!”)

When it comes to potlucks, I’m a leftover leaver.  My theory is that the host went to the trouble to have the gathering, and I made the food specifically for the event (I might have even left myself a serving at home), so I don’t need to bring extras home (unless it’s not popular, like the pink beet couscous salad).  Plus, there’s always another recipe to test the next night at 6:00!

Aviva Goldfarb is a mother of two and the author and founder of The Six O’Clock Scramble®, www.thescramble.com, an online weekly menu planner and cookbook (St. Martin’s Press, 2006), and is author of the new cookbook, “SOS! The Six O’Clock Scramble to the Rescue: Earth Friendly, Kid-Pleasing Meals for Busy Families” (St. Martin’s Press, 2010).

Lemon Basil Summer Pasta Salad

Prep + Cook = 25 minutes + optional marinating time

8 servings

This is one of my favorite dishes to bring to a potluck, from my latest cookbook, “SOS! The Six O’Clock Scramble to the Rescue: Earth-Friendly, Kid-Pleasing Dinners for Busy Families”. The key is to use fresh mozzarella and the freshest and most flavorful tomatoes you can find.

16 oz. farfalle pasta

6 plum or Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced (or use 4 large tomatoes)

20 basil leaves, cut into thin strips

1 lemon, juice only (about 1/4 cup)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp. mashed garlic cloves (1 –  2 cloves)

3/4 – 1 tsp. salt, to taste

8 oz. fresh mozzarella, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)

In a large pot of salted water, cook the pasta according to package directions until it is al dente.  Drain and rinse the pasta with cold water to cool.

Meanwhile, in a large serving bowl, combine the remaining ingredients.  Add the cooled pasta, toss, and chill it for up to 24 hours, or serve it immediately.

Scramble Flavor Booster:  Add extra lemon juice and a little lemon zest for a tangier flavor.  Add freshly ground black pepper and/or some crushed red pepper flakes for a spicy kick.

Tip:  To get more juice out of your lemons, roll them on the counter while pressing firmly with your palm before juicing them.

Nutritional Information per serving (% based upon daily values):

Calories 336, Total Fat 12.5g, 19%, Saturated Fat 3.5g, 17%, Cholesterol 15mg, 5%, Sodium 319mg, 13%, Total Carbohydrate 45.5g, 15% Dietary Fiber 3g, 11.5% Sugar 3g, Protein 8g



This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 1st, 2010 at 6:27 am and is filed under Guest Posts, Recipes, Side Dishes. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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