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Welcome to My Kitchen

Potluck pondering? Try these quick and easy salads


February 15, 2018

Potluck meals are easy on the host as attendees are involved in the meal preparation. Often the event host provides the main dish with guests providing the side dishes. Occasionally side dishes are assigned by alphabet, A-G Salads, H-M Casseroles, N-S Vegetables, T-Z Desserts, or some similar division, but generally invitations just say potluck.

What shall I bring? Salad? Casserole? Taco Chef Salad fits both categories. Easy to prepare, the recipe can be doubled, and ingredients can be prepared ahead of time and mixed just before leaving for the event. I got this recipe from my sister-in-law, Tammy Bubemyre in 1977.

Taco Chef Salad

1 pound ground beef, cooked and drained

1 can (15 ounces) pinto beans, un-drained

1 can (8 ounces) black olives, sliced

2 large tomatoes, cubed

1 cup grated cheddar or longhorn cheese

4 green onions, diced

1 bag (16 ounces) taco flavored tortilla chips

1/2 cup bottled taco sauce

1 bottle (16 ounces) thousand island salad dressing

Combine all ingredients in a large salad bowl and chill about 1 hour. Yield: about 12 servings.

Note: package sizes may have changed since 1977, so adjust amounts accordingly. Also, if you want to make ahead, combine all ingredients except chips, taco sauce and salad dressing, and chill up to 24 hours. Add chips, sauce and dressing about one hour before serving. The recipe is correct, there is no lettuce in this salad.

Any season of the year, Beet Salad is a pretty, easy to prepare gelatin salad. This recipe comes from the late Alice Richardson. She served this often at luncheons in the 1980’s.

Beet Salad

1 package (3 ounces) each, raspberry, strawberry and cherry gelatin

4 cups boiling water

1/2 cup sweet pickle juice

1 can (15 ounces) shoe string beets, drained

1 can (20 ounces) crushed pineapple, drained

1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped green onions

In a large bowl dissolve gelatin in the boiling water. Stir in sweet pickle juice. Chill until almost thick.

Gently stir in drained beets and pineapple. Spread mixture in a glass or enamel 13 x 9 inch pan and chill until firm or overnight.

Just before serving, combine mayonnaise, celery and onion. Spread mixture over surface of set gelatin. Cut into squares to serve. Yield: 12-15 servings.

Note: if you can’t find shoe string beets, cut drained, sliced beets into shoe strings.

No time to cook for a potluck? The following items are ready made or prepared items one may purchase that will be a good addition to any potluck. Dill pickles, black olives, potato chips, vegetable trays, meat and cheese trays, pasta or potato salads and bakery pies and desserts.

The late Freda Braun made a macaroni salad that included everything but the kitchen sink. This huge salad needs a bowl as big as the sink to mix it in. Many longtime Odessa residents may remember this salad being served at the monthly Hospital Auxiliary fund raising lunches, circa 2000. This salad truly feeds a crowd.

Freda’s Macaroni Salad


1 pound salad macaroni, cooked, drained and cooled

3 cups thin sliced celery

1 cup each, red and green sweet bell pepper

6 hard cooked eggs, peeled and chopped

1/2 cup sweet pickle relish

1 large carrot, peeled and coarsely grated

2 cups frozen peas, thawed and drained

1 jar (2 ounces) diced pimento, drained

1 cup cubed cheddar cheese.


1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup sour cream

1 cup buttermilk, plus extra

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

2 Tbsp vinegar

1/4 tsp dry mustard

1-2 tsp minced parsley

In a very large mixing bowl, combine salad ingredients and chill one hour.

Just before serving, combine dressing ingredients and mix well. Dressing should run off the spoon easily. If too thick, thin with 1/2 to 3/4 cup more buttermilk. Pour over salad ingredients and mix until well combined. Serve immediately. Yield 18-24 servings.

Note: 1 cup diced summer sausage and 1 cup diced cucumber may be added to the salad ingredients.

Joyce McClanahan makes a similar flavored salad, minus the pasta. Frozen Pea Salad dates from 2007 and is always a hit at potluck meals, and is super fast and easy to prepare.

Frozen Pea Salad

1 bag (16 ounces) frozen peas, thawed and drained

3 or 4 diced green onions, including the tops.

1 cup diced celery

1 cup cubed cheddar cheese

1 cup shredded carrot

1/2 cup black olives

1 1/4 cups bottled ranch dressing

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir in dressing and serve. Yield: 8-10 servings.

Note: an alternative dressing is 1 cup sour cream (regular or lite) mixed with 1/2 package of ranch dip mix and 2 Tablespoons of milk. Additionally, an 8 ounce can of drained water chestnuts, diced small may be added to the salad ingredients.

Share your favorite recipes for potluck dishes by sending them to: Welcome to my Kitchen, c/o The Odessa Record, P.O. Box 458, Odessa, WA 99159, email 0r drop them in the Welcome to My Kitchen mail tin in The Odessa Record office. Organize a neighborhood potluck.


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