Favorite make ahead dish ideas
Some things taste even better when made ahead and have had time to sit...
What are your favorite make ahead dish ideas? Sometimes there just isn't enough time to do everything right before. For time purposes, say from the day before to the morning of, before the dinner or dinner party? What do you make ahead?
I second the suggestion for curry. It tastes exactly the same, if not better, the next day. I also often do:
-fried rice, since so much assembling is needed. I personally thin the flavors marry a little better by the second day as well.
-any kind of stew tastes better the second day
-dumplings/wontons: I make hundreds and freeze them, then boil with some chicken stock and almost any vegetable. Some restaurants might serve great fresh dumplings, but I have always thought that homemade dumplings cook better after being frozen.
-pesto and marinara both freeze well in serving sized portions and can be put in the fridge to defrost the night before you want them. Just serve with pasta, or frozen homemade gnocchi
And since I just had a big party and started cooking 2 days ahead, here are some make-ahead tips for large groups:
-butter or cream cheese with herbs mixed in. I just did this for a party, and was so glad I did it a few days in advance. The flavors had time to seep into the butter/cream cheese, and it saved me a lot of chopping and mixing the day of the party.
-baguettes: stale baguettes are perfect for serving the above mentioned cream cheese. I sliced the baguette into tiny disks the night before, let them get stale, then brushed with oil and baked for 10 minutes right before the party. They got very crisp, and people gobbled them up with the cheese plate, cream cheese, and salmon.
-any and all slicing/dicing. I cut almost everything (tomatoes, onions, cheese, fruit, etc.) the night before and put it into tupperware containers. That way, before the party all I had to do was assemble dishes and bake certain items. Plus, it was easier for me to get early-comers to help. It's much easier to tell someone "wrap those pieces of cantaloup with prociutto" than to expect them to cut the fruit into little cubes that are up to snuff.
Oh, making ahead is the best...
Pate and chutney, Caponata, Meatballs, Nicoise Orzo Salad (epicurious.com), Roasted Butternut Squash and Onion turnovers (Food & Wine), marinated olives, spiced nuts, tiramisu, chocolate mousse, eggplant caviar, any sort of baked pasta dish or strata/savory bread pudding, salmon rilettes, bean salad, cold roasted beef tenderloin...