Our church had a huge potluck yesterday after services. We attended the potluck primarily to see a few friends, make an appearance, and drop off the fried sweet potato chips I made that morning for the buffet. I got up super early, thinly sliced 5 pounds of sweet potatoes on the mandoline, and fried them to serve with a spicy scallion ranch dip. We weren't going to eat at the potluck. What? Not eat? It was church food. Almost all church food is good, but ours was Episcopalian church food. Episcopalians bring it. The potluck people set up two tables of homemade wonders sectioned off by courses and sides. The side by side tables were supposed to alleviate long lines and congestion, which they did. But, the two tables had very different offerings. We were not fooled. We chose to go straight down the middle in arms reach of both food laden tables. Problem solved.
Because we had planned to grill out last night, we decided to snack and eat light.
Yeah, right. Everything looked too irresistable to not try. I started with a hot dog, bun to the side. There were several varieties of baked beans, most falling into the baked dry or baked runny categories. I prefer the dense dry baked type. Didn't matter. I spooned both types onto my plate. I used the dry candied bacon version as a sponge to absorb the soupy and beefy brown sugar bean stew. Yep. Bean Heaven. There was a huge bowl of Quinoa Salad with nuts, raisins, and onions. I love quinoa. Broccoli casseroles, corn puddings, and cheesy macaroni bowls lined up tightly like an army mess hall cafeteria line. Each one a bit different from the other, yet all oozing with melted cheese and sporting those wonderful burned crunchy edges.... the casserole G-Spot. Score.
The most interesting dish, although somewhat lowbrow and skanky, was a baked pineapple, coconut, and cheddar cheese thing. It looked like potato casserole. In fact, that's what Michael thought he was eating when he first bit into it. The look on his face was priceless. I had fair warning. It was good. Really good. Sweet syrupy canned pineapple with coconut splinters bathed in cheese. Tasty. We analyzed it as if we were judging the Best Homemade Odd Church Potluck Dish. Would it have been better with fresh pineapple? Who knows. I am going to attempt it, though.
I loaded up on a Salad Caprese layered with really good mozzarella, fresh basil, and deep red sliced tomatoes. I topped my portion with tiny whole cherry tomatoes tossed in a vinaigrette with julienned basil. The two salads combined into a heavenly tomato basil cheese party, tart from the vinaigrette, fresh from the basil, and grounded by the mozzarella. Cracked Pepper? Next time, maybe.
There was a baked Spinach Manicotti dish that pulled me in with its baked-too-long-but-you-know-you-want-me appearance. I tossed it over a spoonful of overly buttered wagon wheel pasta. The dripping butter helped moisten the collapsed spinach ricotta manicotti. It glistened. Nice combo.
I couldn't pass on the grean beans. They were well represented. From snappingly crisp and bright green to bacony shiny and long-stewed army green. I chose both. I adore fresh perfectly cooked pencil thin green beans. I do. Really. But, I could bathe in greasy country army green long-cooked ones. Yup.
As a nod to good health, I slipped a grape onto my plate and didn't eat the hot dog bun. Well, I didn't eat it with the charred mustard coated hot dog. I used it to swipe up the plate juices. Oh my, the plate juices. Think about it.
Needless to say, we didn't grill out last night.
Eventually, we got hungry. We wanted something easy. Something not resembling anything from yesterdays potluck lunch. Inspired by a gorgeous post on concrete-magnolia.blogspot.com, we decided on BLT's. Michael makes incredible BLT's.