Cooking From Every Angle

A Potluck Lunch

By • May 8, 2012 • 9 Comments

Sausage and Ramp Pasta

For the past two weeks, I've written about strategies for planning ahead now that I'm cooking for a rapidly expanding family. Okay, so there's really just one more family member -- and one who's not even eating solid food yet -- but with her arrival, our world has turned topsy-turvy, in the best of ways. This nascent chaos brings with it a need to simplify and organize, and also a strong urge to return to "normalcy" every once in a while. We've found that the best way to accomplish this is to see friends. Many of them have kids already, but a lot don't, and just as a certain distance can develop between single and non-single friends, we've quickly realized it can be difficult to bridge the gap between those who spend 98 percent of their time talking about poop, and those who don't.

It's no longer an easy option for us to meet up with friends at some cool new restaurant at 9pm on a Friday for an impromptu social gathering -- now we need to plan our evenings out at least a week, if not two, in advance. These days it makes a lot more sense for us to host. Having people over has the dual benefit of not requiring us to find a sitter, and allowing us to maintain the baby's schedule while we socialize with our friends. While we used to love hosting late-night, multi-course dinner parties (see Amanda's recent post on getting back into the swing of dinner parties), right now those are just not an option. The answer to our dilemma? Potlucks, of course!

This weekend, we invited a group of good friends to our place on Sunday afternoon for a potluck brunch/lunch. I prepared a main dish -- a pasta with spicy sausage and some ramps I'd picked up at the farmers market the day before that took me all of 20 minutes to put together (the recipe is at the bottom of this post) -- along with a simple appetizer and drinks, relying on our guests to round out the menu, which looked like this:

  • Blackcurrant juice spritzers
  • Rosé
  • Local ricotta drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt and black pepper, served with crackers
  • Prosciutto and soppressata
  • Orecchiette with spicy sausage and ramps
  • Raisin walnut bread from Bien Cuit with salted Irish butter
  • Lemony Green Bean Salad with Feta, Red Onion and Marjoram
  • Roasted aparagus with olive oil and lemon juice
  • Raspberry peach crumb pie
  • Champage (to celebrate the arrival of my friend Guillermo's new greencard!)

Here's a video clip, where you can see all of the dishes:

You may have noticed that I took my own photos and video for this post, and also for my previous two posts. Microsoft recently gave me a new Nokia Lumia 900 Windows phone (the subject of a lot of buzz recently) to try out. In case you weren't aware, we're really fussy about photos here at Food52 -- great food photography is not easy to produce! -- so I thought it would be a good test to see if I could take some decent food photos with the phone. The verdict? I was pleasantly surprised by both the photo and video quality, even when shot by a total amateur like me -- pretty snazzy, and no Instagram filters needed!

What are your favorite potluck dishes/menus? Share them in the comments section, and if you too have great food photos you've taken with your phone, tweet them to us @food52!

Ramps   Sausage and Ramp Pasta Sauce

Orecchiette with Spicy Sausage and Ramps

Serves 8

  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds hot Italian sausage, bulk or removed from casings
  • 1/2 pound ramps (you can use young leeks if you don't have access to ramps), cleaned and trimmed of roots
  • 1 pound orecchiette or other short pasta

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

 

Brought to you by the new AT&T Nokia Lumia 900. Tasks. Joys. Simply Faster.

All photos and video were taken with the new Nokia Lumia 900 Windows Phone.

Jump to Comments (9)

Tags: potlucks, ramps, sausage, pasta, spring, friends, entertaining

Comments (9)

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about 2 years ago eisenstar

Merrill, I love the sound of the pasta dish, but really? Ramps?? Not so easy to get, and I live in a big, Metropolitan city....Any suggestions for what one might substitute, instead?

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about 2 years ago orlenda

well-my fave thing to take is pineapple stuffing, which can be brought warm, room temp, or cold and is great all 3 ways!

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about 2 years ago PistachioDoughnut

Lovely post. Recently, I suggested sdberango about Bien Cuit's Mango Boysenberry Tart. It is amazing!

Merrill

about 2 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Sounds delicious! I haven't actually been there yet.

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about 2 years ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

For the last couple of years whenever we have potluck, someone demands that I show up with arielleclementine's snake bite - I have taken to making a double batch in cupcake form to meet the demands.

I like to make a grain based or whole grain pasta salad with lots of veggies and a vinegar based dressing so it can bear sitting out for a bit.

Also my marinated garden and bread works well - the garden is marinated and transported in a jar which makes it super easy.

When I am HOSTING - I tell folks what I plan to make and a general idea if there's a theme, and let them roll with that when deciding what they will bring. We potluck a LOT around here!

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about 2 years ago Angela @ the well-worn apron

Would love to know a little bit more about your pot luck strategy. Do you assign people a specific dish (recipe) or just a course? Or do you throw caution to the wind and say "bring whatever you like and we'll see what we end up with"? Do you ask guests to bring dishes ready to serve or do you allow time and space for guest/contributors to use your oven, stop top, and/or counters?

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about 2 years ago irinaleibo

Hi Angela,
I've had lots of pot lucks in the past and I do tell who ever is doing the main course that I am allergic to shellfish/seafood and any other allergy I can think of that a guest might have. But NOT that "John" doesn't like lamb or things like that. It's pot luck! And always make sure there is a vegetarian pasta or salad that all can eat.
Don't mind if they use the oven or not. Don't mind if it's home made or not. I just relax.
Cheers
irina

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about 2 years ago Midge

Great column and photos, Merrill. I love the no-fuss menu, especially the green bean salad ;)

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about 2 years ago Kitchen Butterfly

The quality of the photos is great, especially the first photo that has me reaching for the screen. You're making many 'sensible choices' Merrill - hosting at home is one. They'll stand you in good stead :-)