Mashed potatoes don't generally reheat well, but with the help of sour cream, this mashed potato casserole can be made days in advance and reheated with no loss in quality. A crispy topping of panko bread crumbs, bacon, cheddar cheese, and scallions adds crunch and the flavor of fully loaded baked potatoes.
'make-ahead' on Serious Eats
Risotto is not exactly a make-ahead food—no matter what tricks you use, it always requires last-minute finishing right before serving. But by using the tricks we developed for rice balls, it's possible to turn a classically a-la-minute dish into a make-ahead baked casserole. Like baked mac-and-cheese, but with rice.
Loosely based on Middle Eastern tabbouleh salad, this easy make-ahead salad combines grape tomatoes (sweet and ripe any time of year) with cucumber, parsley, mint, and quinoa for a bright and refreshing make-ahead salad that's hearty enough to serve as a light meal.
You could say I've been on a bit of a chickpea kick recently, but only because they're so easy to love! They make the kind of dishes that are not just delicious when first thrown together, but actually improve with time. It's really the ideal food for a packed lunch, whether it's at school, the office, or on the road. This version combines chickpeas with grated carrots, pumpkin seeds, and plenty of dill.
Tacos may not seem like the kind of food that you should assemble an hour before eating, which is why I've never thought of them as a particularly good potluck dish. But that's because, until recently, I'd never encountered tacos de canasta, a special variety of taco sold by bicycle vendors in Mexico that are made in advance and get better as they sit. This is the potluck taco you've been waiting for.
This easy black eyed pea stew starts with andouille sausage and pork belly cooked until browned and crisped, then gets flavored with the Holy Trinity of Cajun cuisine: onions, celery, and green bell peppers, along with some leeks and garlic for extra flavor. Tender braised kale transform this into a full-on meal, while a shot of apple cider vinegar brightens up all the flavors.
This hearty chickpea salad flavored with bacon, cotija, and roasted chilies is easy to make and only gets better as it rests overnight. This is a dish custom-made for making ahead and packing on a camping trip or for lunch at the office.
A simple salad of chickpeas dressed in a light vinaigrette flavored with cumin, shallots, and olive oil. Crunchy celery and parsley finish it off. This is the kind of salad that gets better as it sits—Make it one night and pack it for lunch at the office or on a picnic the next day.
This savory bread pudding is filled with ground chicken, leeks, shiitake mushrooms, and a sprinkling of white wine. It's fully make-ahead: assemble in advance and it's ready to bake immediately or the next day.
Even people who don't like pudding like chocolate pudding. You may recall the stovetop classic made with powdered mix, but why go that route with a recipe as simple as this? A hefty portion of chocolate and more than a few cups of milk yield smooth, deep, sweetness that serves a crowd.
An easy Asian-inspired salad of hearty greens dressed in a sesame dressing.
This week's Lunch Box ushers in fall with warm, nutty flavors. Fried hazelnuts serve double duty by acting as a crunchy topping when mixed with parsley and lemon zest, and infusing oil to be slicked on both the steak and the roasted cauliflower.
Stone fruits and melons bring to mind portable beach snacks, bubbling cobbler or juice dripping down your chin. But as we wrap up our leisurely summer weekends (and produce) and transition to fall, there's no need to leave the fruit behind—you can pack it in cold grain salads for an office lunch.
There are few sights more welcoming after a day in the sun than a tangle of cold noodles slicked with pesto, waiting to be eaten straight from the container. I recreated the pesto wheel here with arugula, Parmesan, walnuts and, stick with me, jalapeño.
A quick make-ahead lunch that uses Thai curry paste to pack big flavor into broiled pork skewers.
Creamy, easy make-ahead zucchini and quinoa soup flavored with dill.
Inspired by the classic Chinese take-out, this vegetarian lunchbox takes the best elements of the sweet and sour staple—saucy glaze, tangy-sweet flavor—and leaves out the less make-ahead-friendly ones—gloppy leftovers, heaps of sugar.
Heaps of fresh parsley, paprika, and coriander add tons of bright flavor to this hearty bulgur dish, stuffed into a pita and held together with some lemony tahini.
The key to a make-ahead sub is choosing toppings that won't wilt or dry out, and to choose a bread that won't quickly turn stale or soggy. This sandwich iteration of the classic beans 'n' greens pairing fits all the criteria, and takes less than 20 minutes to throw together.
Baked tofu won't dry out the next day or get sad and shriveled like fried tofu can. A trip under the broiler yields a crunchy, chewy crust; here it's bolstered by a thick coating of sesame seeds. A spicy green bean salad makes a straightforward, refreshing accompaniment, and can be mixed and matched with whatever's in your fridge.