I Pandered to the Vegetarians and Other Confessions and Observations from a Neighborhood Potluck


An invite appeared in my mailbox last week inviting us to attend a Neighborhood Potluck Dinner. Amazingly enough, the date and time worked for us, and we were able to spend an enjoyable hour or two getting to know other residents of the DelSo. Who, by the way, now know they live in the DelSo – I’m telling you, this DelSo thing is catching on.

It has been such a crazy week at my house that I didn’t even have an opportunity to consult on the grocery list, thus leaving me to scramble about what to prepare to share with my neighbors. We had a few pounds of sweet and hot Italian sausages in the freezer, so that was my ground zero. I poked around a bit and came up with a bunch of broccoli rabe, some beet greens, a couple of vidalia onions, a few cloves of garlic and two cans of red kidney beans. I started to see some potential…

To begin, I fired up the grill and browned the sausage. While they were doing their thing, I got a deep saute pan going with the onions (coarsely chopped) and the garlic (minced). As the vegetables became soft I tossed in the beet greens, seasoned with sea salt and crushed red pepper flakes, and turned the heat down to low and covered the pan. At this point my intention was to slice the sausage and toss it with the greens for a one pot dish, but something came over me, some sort of vegetarian empathy, and I decided to make it a 2 pot Potluck. This is the pandering to which I alluded in the title of this posting. Anyway – the beet greens were done and I emptied the saute pan of vegetable goodness into a bowl. I then tossed the broccoli rabe and two cans of rinsed and drained red kidney beans into that same saute pan (give me a break, I’m already washing 2 serving bowls to appease the vegetarians!) and warmed things through – maybe 3 or 4 minutes tops. I combined the broccoli rabe and beans and the other vegetables, and placed a small dish of sea salt within the bowl so folks could add salt as necessary. I sliced the sausages and put them in a serving dish garnished with a chiffonade of fresh basil. Ta da! I have to say, I thought the greens were delicious. If I had had a little more time to play around, it might have occurred to me that a balsamic vinegar deglazing of the pan between the cooking of the greens would have been a nice touch. Next time, ok?

Now, some observations:

  1. I don’t when or know how it happened, but my oldest son, Liam has evolved from the Pied Piper to The Catcher in the Rye. It was pretty cool watching him take charge of the little guys at the party giving the Mommies a break.
  2. The soft sell on the weekly Bible Study was expected, but still a bit of an intrusion on an otherwise good time. I guess I have a problem when people try to sell religion – and Amway, but that’s another story.
  3. How were the guests invited? Was it selective? Were we chosen a la Jack Shephard on LOST? Where was the other pastor from our block? Is there some religious conflict on our very own street?
  4. I was interested to learn some random things about my neighbors. Like Lori can keep a white shirt pristine all day despite the perils of coffee and wine, that Ken is an admitted carb whore and that Ed eats bread all day long. Good stuff, people!
  5. The next Neighborhood Potluck is already in the planning stages for August. I suspect there will be copious amounts of wine, so keep your calendars open, DelSo.
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Filed under Albany, DelSo, Recipes

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