I’ve hit on a formula for making my favorite potluck dishes.
It’s based on the classic gratin preparation- though is shockingly at times devoid of cheese, as seen in this current example. Layers of vegetables often dressed and then baked together can add up to great large dishes suitable for large gatherings of hungry friends.
Using potatoes as a main ingredient, helps insure your dish’s reception in a spectrum of temperatures from cold to hot.
This pictured dish is a layer of onions, kale and vinaigrette dressed potatoes- its almost like a baked German potato salad. Scrunching all the potatoes up on end helps bring easily crisped height to the dish.
Fancy Looking Baked Potato Dish
Choose a large baking dish and preheat your oven to 375F.
Lightly oil/butter the bottom of the baking dish.
Slice an ample amount of potatoes (to fill a layer of your baking dish- the more the better) into salted water in a saucepan and boil approximately 5 minutes. Cook the potatoes until just barely fork tender. Drain and allow to cool.
In a skillet, sauté sliced onions with a pinch of salt and ample oil. Transfer the onions to the baking dish when they have achieved a golden color. Spread the cooked onions so that they cover the entire baking pan surface.
In the same skillet, dry sauté bunches of kale and spread on top of the layered cooked onions.
Sprinkle the the kale with your favorite salad dressing and a pinch of salt.
Also dress the cooled potato slices with salad dressing, coating more liberally than the kale, so that the entire potato slice is covered.
Starting at one end of the baking dish layered with onions and kale, make rows of potato slices stacked on top of each other, and laying down (like a traditional potato au gratin dish). To make the potato slices stand up straight, wait until the baking dish is 3/4 full with potato layers and gently press the potato layers back towards the end of the dish you started at. This scrunches the layers in closer and closer together and allows you to build more potato layers into your baking dish. When you have fit as many potato slices as possible you are done assembling the dish.
Drizzle the dish with one last touch of salad dressing and a sprinkle of salt. Bake until the potatoes are cooked to the level of your desired crispness.
I found I liked to enhance the potato salad aspect of this dish and further dressed it with a splash of vinegar.
This layering approach offers many opportunities to add your own variations depending on what ingredients you have on hand. It also offers a wonderful formula to have in mind on your next trip to the farmers market.