Call me anti-social if you like, but in general, I’m not a big fan of potlucks. I guess, I’m afraid there won’t be anything I want to eat. My worst nightmare is a table laden with boxes of cold Kentucky Fried Chicken, tired raw veggies and dip, congealed pizza, cookies from Safeway, and convenience store soda. And so, when someone says “potluck,” I tend not to hear. But once in a while, to be social, I violate my unwritten rule against participating in these sometimes sad affairs, and promise to attend.
And what then? Then I must come up with something to bring. As a professional cook, I’ve convinced myself that a contribution like purchased salsa and chips would be an embarrassment. I feel obligated to cook something from scratch. But what? My goal each time is to conjure up a dish which will serve as a complete meal, so I’ll have at least one dish that’s satisfying even if there’s little else that seems appetizing. By complete meal, I’m thinking: whole grain, protein and vegetables all in one dish. And that’s what today’s recipe represents. Here’s what I took to a potluck yesterday: a wild and long grain brown rice salad with marinated tofu (I also made a version with poached and diced chicken breasts), arugula, roasted sweet potatoes and mushrooms, celery, dried cranberries and toasted sunflower seeds with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. If my approach seems selfish, so be it, but in reality I’m always thinking to make a dish lots of other people will enjoy as well.
Lest you think I’m a total curmudgeon, let me admit that I had a great time at yesterday’s potluck. I realize that the most important part of these events is not the food, but the getting together with folks, in this case gay and lesbian people and our friends in Vallejo (thanks to Ric and Richard for being such gracious hosts). And by the way, there was a table laden with a wide variety of items, and I found a great plenty to eat. All in all, a good day–bright sun, warm conversation, and despite my worst fears, enjoyable food. A recipe for the wild rice and arugula salad is after the jump.