6 Summer Foods That Get Better as They Sit

published Aug 1, 2022
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Summer is the perfect season to lean on some make-ahead dishes that improve with a little time in the refrigerator. Whether you’re wiped out from a day at the pool or unwilling to add a degree of heat to your kitchen by cranking up the stove, it’s always a treat to have something waiting for you in the fridge. These salads, sides, and sweet treats are perfect for just that. Make them when you’ve got the time and inclination and then enjoy the fruits of your labor for the next few days.

1. Marinated White Beans

These shallot- and garlic-infused white beans don’t just tolerate a little layover in the fridge — they welcome it. As your beans chill out, they soak up all that flavor so when you’re ready for them, they’ll come out swinging with a bright lemon and oregano punch. Pile them up on crusty toast, or bring them to a picnic to eat right out of the jar. This protein-packed side dish (or, I would argue, main dish) lasts at least three days in the fridge if you don’t eat it all first.

Get the recipe: Marinated White Beans

2. Easy Gazpacho

I make a version of this gazpacho and keep it in the fridge all summer long. Occasionally you can find me standing in front of the open refrigerator chugging directly from a quart container of this fresh, peak-summer soup. It’s cool and refreshing and has about a lifetime supply of vegetables in every bowl. It’s also one of the dishes I like to bring to new parents in the summertime because they can get to it on their own time, and they don’t even have to heat it up to enjoy it.

Get the recipe: Easy Gazpacho

Credit: Joe Lingeman

3. Marinated Feta-Beet Salad

Silky-soft beets and zippy feta cheese are a classic pairing, and this marinated salad is evidence for why the pairing works so darn well. After roasting, the beets get tossed with a lemony vinaigrette. The oil-slicked beets get a shower of fresh herbs and feta cheese. If you’re making this a day or two in advance, I recommend using only yellow beets so your feta doesn’t turn pink from the red beets.

Get the recipe: Marinated Feta-Beet Salad

Credit: Faith Durand

4. Summer Tiramisu with Mango and Lime

This “loose and lively interpretation” of tiramisu skips the ladyfingers and espresso and instead layers fresh fruit, jam, and a mascarpone-enriched custard for a perfect summertime dessert. The recipe calls for resting in the fridge for two hours, but this can go longer, even overnight, and it packs up well for travel should you find yourself on dessert detail at the next summer potluck.

Get the recipe: Summer Tiramisu with Mango and Lime

Credit: Shelly Westerhausen

5. Marinated Chickpea and Feta Salad with Spring Veggies

This salad is ideal for make-ahead lunches, whether you’re going to eat them at your desk or on a lakeside picnic. And don’t let the name fool you: Although born in the spring, this salad is right on time throughout the summer, and it’s versatile enough to allow you to swap out veggies as you see fit. Add cucumbers, zucchini, or cherry tomatoes to bring this spring baby into the summer.

Get the recipe: Marinated Chickpea and Feta Salad with Spring Veggies

Credit: Leela Cyd Ross / Clarkson Potter

6. No-Bake Banana and Peanut Butter Caramel Icebox Cake

Kitchn Editor-in-Chief, Faith Durand, is an expert on no-bake desserts, so when she tells me this is one of the best recipes she’s ever created, I believe her and load up my grocery cart with the ingredients immediately. If you do the same, you will be greatly rewarded. This icebox cake channels The King with bananas, peanut butter, and gooey caramel, and it can sit around for a day in the fridge, improving with every minute, while you tend to other things.

Get the recipe: No-Bake Banana and Peanut Butter Caramel Icebox Cake Recipe