Chicken, Black Bean and Arugula Salad

Photo: Johnny Valiant

The Salad That Complements Many Cuisines
This colorful chicken, black bean and arugula salad somehow manages to be full of assertive flavors, yet not too closely aligned with any particular cuisine (arugula is used mainly in Italian cooking, while black beans show up most often in Latin dishes and "rotisserie chicken" is basically shorthand for "dinner jack-of-all-trades"). If you are worried that arugula's peppery bite will turn off picky eaters, swap in romaine.

Get the recipe: Chicken, Black Bean and Arugula Salad
Roasted vegetables

Photo: Thinkstock

An Any-Temperature, Any-Main Veggie Side Dish
Roasted vegetables are wonderfully versatile: They taste delicious alongside meat and pasta, but also work well piled onto sandwiches or laid atop green salads. Plus, they're a snap to make and can be served warm or at room temperature. One more reason to love this recipe: It gets its flavor from a packet of salad-dressing seasonings, which is innocuous enough to play nice with practically any cuisine.

Get the recipe: Zesty Roasted Vegetables

Photo: Jennifer May

A Meaty, Low-Cost Side with a Long History of Matching Almost Anything
Baked beans have deep roots in the potluck circuit, since they pair well with many standard party foods, such as burgers and grilled chicken. Yet, even if the other offerings are a bit unexpected—meat kebabs, pork tenderloin, short ribs—a pot of beans will pull its weight, since its flavors are so mellow. Bonus: They're one of the most economical ways to feed many people.

Get the recipe: Deluxe Baked Beans with a Crumb Top
Farro salad

Photo: Erin Kunkel

The Sturdy Grain You Can Take Anywhere
Farro, a chewy, wheat-like grain that tastes similar to barley, is a fantastic salad base, since it won't get soggy or soft if you make it ahead of time (actually, more time in the fridge can even make it tastier). A farro salad can round out everything from a Greek, Italian, Spanish or French meal (especially if you combine it with Mediterranean olives, as this recipe does) to grilled sausage, pork, beef, chicken or seafood (the lemon zest and juice will provide a nice counterpoint to the smoky flavor).

Get the recipe: Farro Salad with Creamy Artichoke Dressing
Fruit salad

Photo: © Ryan Szulc

The Sweet Side That Perks Up Boring Dishes
Fruit salads and fruit kebabs are potluck stalwarts, but there's no need to limit them to the dessert buffet. An artful combination of kiwis, strawberries and pineapple, this recipe also includes quinoa, which adds a pleasant crunch and gives the dish a slightly savory flavor (the seed actually has a somewhat nutty taste). Guests can scoop a spoonful onto their plates to counter spicy foods, or to liven up ho-hum grilled chicken or other meats.

Get the recipe: Toasted Coconut Fruit Salad with Quinoa and Pineapple Lime Dressing