If You Bring Only One Thing To a Summer Potluck...
This orzo salad was made to be thrown into a big bowl and brought to a picnic or barbecue for everyone to share. (Plus, six more fantastic, portable dishes.)
The Goes-with-Everything Pasta
Chances are, if you're invited to a party this summer, the host is taking care of the hot dogs, hamburgers or grilled chicken, and has asked guests to bring a side dish. These seven recipes, from the new book Williams-Sonoma Salad of the Day
by Georgeanne Brennan, are up for the task: You can make them ahead of time and transport them easily. Best of all, they all have a little something—whether it's an interesting ingredient or a smart prep technique—that sets them apart from your average buffet sides. Here's a perfect example: a colorful assembly of yellow and green baby squash that you can add any other summer vegetable to (cherry tomatoes are especially good).
Get the recipe: Grilled Squash and Orzo Salad with Pine Nuts and Mint
The New Taco Salad
Forget the crispy tortilla bowl: For this take on the beloved Mexican entrée salad, you can use chips just as a garnish (the traditional version wouldn't hold up for a potluck, anyway). It also includes shredded chicken (cook your own or buy a rotisserie bird), black beans, corn kernels, cherry tomatoes, green chilies, romaine and avocado.
Get the recipe: Chicken Tostada Salad
The Italian Couscous
Farro, an Italian grain with a mild, nutty flavor and crunchy texture, is hearty enough to stand in as a vegetarian main dish. It can also handle a thick dressing like this one, which is made from artichoke hearts, lemon and Parmesan.
Get the recipe: Farro Salad with Creamy Artichoke Dressing
The Tomato Salad That'll Have Everyone Drooling
Even if you use just one or two varieties of heirloom tomatoes—which come in a dazzling array of colors and have names like Big Rainbow, Green Zebra, Chocolate Cherry and Aunt Ruby's German Green—this side dish will be the best-looking one on the table. Plus, it can sit out at room temperature for a few hours.
Get the recipe: Heirloom Tomato Salad with Two Vinegars
The Coleslaw Stand-In
For this side dish, don't skimp on the chilling time (which happens to be a perfect antidote for spicy food)—part of its charm comes from the cool, juicy texture of the marinated cucumbers. Letting the salad sit in the fridge overnight will ensure that the sweet-tart flavors fully develop.
Get the recipe: Sesame-Cucumber Salad
The Just-a-Little-Spicy Crowd-Pleaser
It's easy to see why chicken salad is standard picnic fare: It's portable, tastes better when all the ingredients have had a few hours to mix together, and can be eaten with a fork, on a sandwich or even stuffed into avocado halves. This rendition includes nonfat yogurt, cumin, turmeric, celery, onion, parsley and cashews.
Get the recipe: Curried Chicken Salad
The Fruity Entrée Salad
Strawberries and spinach are a dynamic dietary duo (their nutrients pack a much greater punch in tandem than solo
). Poppy seeds and chopped pecans add texture, and you can toss in ricotta salata if the rest of the meal is Italian, feta cheese if it's a Greek spread, or any other cheese you'd like.
Get the recipe: Fresh Strawberry and Spinach Salad
Next: 14 no-fail potluck dishes everyone will want the recipes for