How to Lighten up Your Tailgate

I'm VERY into sports if being 'into sports' can mean being very into making the food that comes with watching sports or tailgating. Getting the food right for a sporting event can be a sport unto itself, and one I take as seriously as everyone seems to be taking the game.


As much as I love a many-layered dip and wings, I also always like to have a light, bright option to offset some of the heavier food people might expect. But you want something hearty enough that it won't wilt during a long afternoon - and it's especially great if it's quick to make. And it's an extra bonus if vegetarians feel like they have a main course option that doesn't alienate meat eaters who are just looking for flavor.

Sometimes a lot of ingredients are right in front of our eyes, and that's what I love about this pickled beet and lentil salad with tahini lemon dressing. You can easily buy the sesame goodness of tahini at any grocery store; find canned lentils to save yourself a cooking step; and I use Aunt Nellies pickled beets to add acidity and depth without the long process of roasting and pickling the beets yourself. So what you end up with is a surprising and filling vegetable dish that requires no cooking. The sesame and lemon of the dressing match perfectly with the earthy beets and you have a dish that will make you the tailgate hero with little to no work. Find a sport that can give you that kind of outcome! 

You probably can guess that tailgating is one of the most popular forms of potluck entertaining, but did you know that this year marks the 90th anniversary of the original potluck dinner? Created out of need during the Great Depression, potlucksbecame an important way for communities to help nourish and support each other as times got tough.

After all this time, this continue to be a popular way for family, neighbors and church communities to connect and entertain around the table. So, it was only natural for me to partner with Aunt Nellie’s vegetables (which also began in 1929) and their Aunt Nellie’s 90th Birthday Potluck Party. Every week from now through November 21, 2019, they’ll be saluting different potluck themes, featuring yummy recipes AND offering a way for five fans to win a $500 donation to their local food bank + a $250 VISA gift card and family pack. Click on the link for more details. 


Pickled Beet and Lentil Salad with Tahini Lemon Dressing

1/2 cup tahini
Juice of 2 lemons
2 garlic cloves, grated
2 15 ounce cans of lentils, rinsed
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
2cups sliced cucumbers
Salt to taste
1 16 ounce jar Aunt Nellie’s Whole Pickled Beets

In a small bowl combine the tahini with the lemon juice and the garlic cloves. If the consistency is too thick you can add a tablespoon of water at a time to thin it out. Combine the lentils, tomatoes and cucumbers with the dressing and add salt to taste. Dice the pickled beets and then gently fold them into the mixture - note that the beets will color the salad red if you mix too much so take care.

If you want to make this ahead to serve later keep the dressing, beets and other vegetables separated right until you want to serve and then combine.