If i dont serve it cold, maybe something that could be re-heated in a microwave.
Cold (or room temperature) rice salad is wonderful. You can make up a large bowl of rice and go in one of various directions: either more creamy-risotto-ish, or crisp and salady. For the former you basically make up a basic risotto (mushroom or saffron) adding olive oil instead of butter and a splash of vinegar at the end, and make sure to serve it warm enough it doesn't get gloppy. Using basmiati or jasmine rice for a more salady version, you can chop some spring vegetabes while the rice cooks (small peppers, pink garlic, spring onions, asparagus tips, almost anything you have on hand) with a solid handful of fresh chopped herbs (taragon, marjoram, parsely, thyme) and mix up a mayonnaise-enhanced vinaigrette. Gently ix the chopped veggies and vinaigrette into the cooked but still steaming rice and allow to cool. Serve room temp. I often add a last tablespoonfull or two of olive oil and herbal or green pepper mustard right before putting it on the table.
I do a lot of donations like that for school events. I do a quinoa salad and I also do a great Asian Cole slaw. Szechwan Slaw from Whole Foods Cookbook: DRESSING: 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar, 1/4 cup canola oil, 1/4 cup sugar, 2 tsp. grated fresh ginger, 1/4 tsp. red chili flakes, 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro, salt to taste. SALAD, 3 cups thinly slice red cabbage, 3 cups thinly sliced green cabbage, 1 large red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced, 4 scallions, sliced thinly and dagonally, 1 large carrot, grated, 1/4 lb. snow peas, sliced thinly, 1/8 black sesame seeds. Mix everything together.
What is the main dish? or other accompaniments?
Lemon rice, coconut rice or Yogurt rice. (Amanda has the yogurt rice recipe in hte red NY times cook book, page 256)
let me know if you'd like the recipes.
A cous cous salad would be good too, and cous cous cooks much faster than rice.
Also a huge fave pot luck dish in my fam...thai peanut sauce pasta.
cook whatever past you like, chop chicken or beef (unless you want it to be veg), add in carrots, red peppers, green peppers, onion (if you want)...really any veg combo you like...and dump on padang thai peanut sauce. this pasta salad can be served warm or room temp, and it is def a real crowd pleaser!
Not sure how formal of event it is, but I've added orzo to this salad a bunch of times and it's worked well.
I'd say you can do a brown rice salad with some finely chopped green onions, toasted almonds, and craisins (or one with, say, some sauteed vegetables like carrots, yellow squash, red bell peppers,and onions) with a simple vinaigrette. Or perhaps you can do a curried israeli couscous (which is like a small pasta) salad with some chopped red bell pepper, pecans and craisins, dressed with a curry, olive oil, salt, pepper, and a bit of honey (maybe a splash of acid). Quinoa, as some have mentioned, would also be great.
How about cold Chinese noodles with chicken, cucumber and peanut sauce?