If you’re like me, you’re always scrambling to come up with something different to bring to a potluck. In my humble opinion, the perfect potluck dish should be a crowd pleaser, easy to make, go well with many foods, and not be something anyone else is likely to make. (Just in case you’re planning to enter any potluck cooking competitions, here are a few tips about how to win.)
If you’re also a pescovegetarian locavore like me, the perfect potluck dish will not just be vegetarian, but will include as many fresh, local products as possible. Not as simple as it sounds.
I was racking my brain, trying to figure out what to bring to the annual summer social for the Nonprofit Consultant’s Network I belong to in Boston, when I spotted an intriguing recipe in Debra’s Natural Gourmet’s monthly newsletter: Tomato Beet Salad with Sumac and Pomegranate Molasses.
(If you’re not already familiar with them, Debra’s Natural Gourmet is a wonderful natural foods store in Concord, Mass. Owner Debra Stark also teaches cooking classes and has a great approach to choosing her products.)
While I’ve never been able to figure out what the big whoop is about beets, I know they’re good for you, and I’m always looking for new ways to make them. I loved the idea of mixing red and yellow beets with a variety of different colored tomatoes, so decided to try Debra’s recipe.
I was hoping to use some food from my little front yard veggie garden, but sadly, our tomatoes aren’t ripe enough yet, so I went to the Egleston Farmers Market and the Stillman’s Farmers Market behind the Bank of America to buy the red onions, heirloom and cherry tomatoes, and beets that I needed for the salad. Happily, I was able to use the mint from my garden.
Everything in this salad is great—even the beets—but the ingredient that makes it special is the pomegranate molasses. If you’ve never had pomegranate molasses, you’re in for a treat. It’s thick and syrupy, but tastes more like balsamic vinegar than regular molasses. Available in shops that sell Middle Eastern products and some gourmet and natural foods stores, you can also make your own. Fortunately, I already had some in my refrigerator from another recipe.
Once you’ve assembled all the ingredients, the salad is really easy to make. Just dice, chop and mix. I put the salad in a glass bowl and brought it to the potluck, where it was a big hit. My only disappointment is that by the time I got to the party, the pomegranate molasses stained the tomatoes red, so you couldn’t really see all the pretty colors of the heirloom tomatoes.
Even if you’re not going to a potluck, I encourage you to try this wonderful salad. After all, it’s National Farmers Market Week, so I encourage you to stop by your local farmers market (and your local ethnic food store), pick up the ingredients, and give yourself a treat!