November 23, 2010

Last Week's Potluck Lunch

Once a month, there's a potluck lunch where I work.  The potlucks have various themes.  The most recent one was last Wednesday, and the theme was "comfort food."  I made up a big double batch of my Quick Marinara Sauce and used that to make up a crock pot full of spaghetti and meatballs.

I also brought the Apple-Cranberry Pie I made earlier in the week. I didn't figure Juli and I really needed to finish off a whole pie just between the two of us, but I also didn't want it to go to waste, and I will admit that I also wanted to show off my first attempt at making a pie. 

I ended up making the spaghetti and meatballs a couple days prior to the potluck, and in doing so, I used a trick I'd picked up from another pasta recipe I saw awhile back on the Cook's Country website, one for making pasta ahead of time.  Like the author of that article, I've noticed sometimes that when you make pasta ahead of time and then warm it up, the pasta sometimes gets mushy.   The article offered a solution to that problem:  don't cook the pasta all the way through, and add some extra liquid to whatever sort of sauce you're using with it.  That way, when the two are mixed together and later rewarmed, the pasta finishes cooking, absorbing the extra liquid in doing so, and the result is fresh-tasting pasta in a nicely-textured (and not too runny) sauce.

That worked out great.  I cooked the spaghetti for about 2 minutes less than called for on the package directions, and added an extra cup of water to the marinara sauce before dumping both the undercooked pasta and the sauce into the crock pot, along with meatballs I had cooked in the oven.  I then warmed up the spaghetti and meatballs in the crock pot, starting a few hours before the potluck.  That gave plenty of time for the dish to warm up, the pasta to finish cooking and the sauce to thicken.  All that remained was to top the spaghetti with some grated cheese and some fresh basil I'd sliced up that morning, and I completed those final touches just a few minutes before the start of the potluck.

We had a lot of tasty stuff at the potluck.  The dishes included some really tasty nacho dip, a very nice black beans and rice dish, and a big platter of the excellent ribs for which one of my coworkers is justifiably well-known.  I'm happy to say that my spaghetti and meatballs and the pie were also well-received.   My coworkers finished off all but two servings of the spaghetti (which I then packed away and froze for future lunches) and one slice of the pie (which I left, and which got finished off the next day).  One of them said the pie was among the best he'd ever had, and several others complimented me on it; all were surprised when I told them it was the first pie I'd ever made.   Several coworkers also praised the spaghetti, and two asked me for the recipe.  I directed them to this blog, of course.

Next month's potluck is a holiday-themed one, naturally enough.  I'm not sure yet what I'm going to bring, but I'm definitely looking forward to the occasion.

No comments:

Post a Comment