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What's your favorite make-ahead, serve at room temperature food?

I tend toward black bottoms, chicken on skewers with peanut sauce, and chocolate-covered fruit, but I'd love some new ideas. Something that can just be pulled out of the fridge and stuck on a platter.


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  1. Quiche is probably my go to for room temp. Keeps very well and tastes good warm or cold.

    Also chips and salsa. I like antipasto at room temp, too.

    3 Replies
    1. re: JerryMe

      - in addition to quiche, other egg preparations like frittate and deviled eggs
      - bean dips
      - poached salmon
      - tabbouleh
      - pasta salad
      - caprese (or other tomato) salad
      - fruit salad

      i always make sure to pull things out far enough in advance to give them time to lose the chill. i don't see the point in eating most foods ice-cold - it kills the flavor.

      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        True. I don't mind doing that-- it doesn't really take any extra effort on my part.

      2. re: JerryMe

        Similar idea to the quiche I was thinking Spanish tortilla. I like the very traditional, onion, egg potato (no green peppers or ham, thank you very much!)

      3. Not the least elegant but for my family it would probably be potato salad. I make it with roasted potatoes cooled in a vinaigrette. It's yummy, goes with everything and gets better over the course of a couple days. ...which is why I always make plenty.

        1 Reply
        1. re: rainey

          Potato salad here too along with ham biscuits. Chicken salad is good too. Even cold fried chicken is good.

        2. I like Ina Garten's corn salad. Good stuff.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Memily_G

            Great stuff! (I love this recipe!)

          2. Caponata, Eggplant parm, Peppers and eggs, Mushroom frittata

            1. i adapted this from mark bittman's original in the ny times.

              almond frittata
              6 eggs

              2 tablespoons, 3 if using buttermilk

              Pinch of salt
              1/2 cup cream, light coconut milk or buttermilk

              1/2 cup almond meal

              1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds

              1 teaspoon each vanilla, almond extract

              2 tablespoons butter (non-stick spray is fine)

              1. Heat 8-inch ovenproof skillet (I use cast iron) in a 400-degree oven while you gather the ingredients and put the mixture together,

              2. In a bowl, combine eggs, cream, coconut milk or buttermilk vanilla and almond extract.

              3. In a second bowl, combine almond meal, sliced almonds, sugar and salt. Stir into liquid mixture.

              4. Melt butter or spray skillet, pour in egg mixture and return to oven for 20 minutes.

              5. Let cool, slice and serve. For company, dust with confectioners sugar first.

              6 Replies
              1. re: wonderwoman

                wonderwoman, just a heads-up that you omitted an ingredient - the 2 (or 3) tablespoons at the beginning - i'm guessing you meant that to be sugar.

                i always liked the Bittman recipe - any particular reason you altered it to exclude the lemon juice?

                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  it was sugar -- thanks for catching it.

                  i like the idea of the recipe a lot, but the lemon/almond combo just didn't appeal to me.

                  and when i start playing around with the recipe, i found that by substituting the vanilla and almond extracts i was able to to reduce the sugar substantially. bittman originally called for 1/2 cup.

                  1. re: wonderwoman

                    i'm notorious for slashing the sugar in recipes :) when i made Bittman's i omitted the sugar completely and just added a couple of tablespoons of agave nectar. (i also used fat free evaporated milk instead of the cream, and 8 whites plus 2 whole eggs instead of 6 whole eggs. but that's just par for the course with me.)

                    i was just curious about your omission of the lemon because i like the flavor, but i understand that we all have different preferences.

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      GHG, do you have a set of bookmarks or google docs or anything that you'd let me poke through? I bet you have a lot of recipe substitutions I want.

                      1. re: jvanderh

                        the substitutions are mostly stored in my head after so many years spent screwing around trying to modify recipes to suit everyone's dietary restrictions and preferences :) but shoot me an e-mail and i'll try to help you with whatever you need!

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          darn it!! Thanks for the offer-- I may take you up on that

              2. This pasta salad--all ingredients should be adjusted to taste!

                8 oz. salad macaroni, cook and drain
                3 good tomatoes, chopped
                1/4 pound diced sharp cheddar or mozzarella or combination
                1 red or yellow onion, diced
                1/2 cup salad oil
                1/4 cup cider vinegar
                1 teaspoon dried crumbled oregano
                1 1/2 teaspoons salt
                1/4 teaspoon black pepper
                1 clove garlic mashed
                1/3 cup Parmesan grated
                olives (for garnish or ingredient)

                1. Any kind of marinated vegetable salad works well - salads with cooked or raw veggies in either vinaigrette or creamy dressings that actually benefit from being made ahead, as opposed to wilting greens. Ditto with bean or lentil salads and grain salads (e.g., rice, couscous, quinoa, wheat berry, bulgur, etc. - all make great salads paired with aromatics, vegetables, herbs, beans, dried fruits, soft cheeses - whatever combo is appealing - and vinaigrette dressings), which are best at room temp.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                    Wanted to thank everyone-- tonight I served hummus and an Israeli couscous/quinoa salad. It was amazingly stress-free! :-)

                  2. Quiche. Pork tenderloin with a nice mustard or other strong sauce.

                    1. Tortilla Espanyola...Similar to frittata, but then again, not....Best recipes are the simplest, if it has more than eggs, potatoes, onions, olive oil, salt, pepper and maybe garlic, it's not the real thing...It maybe good though...I've added roasted bell pepper, jalapenyos, as well as olives. Good, just not authentic...

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: hankstramm

                        I've made that a couple of times and it was really good! I added sundried tomatoes, so mine wasn't authentic either. I wasn't sure I'd be able to sell cold slabs of egg to people who weren't familiar, but maybe I'll give it a try some time. After all, I wasn't sure they'd eat cold couscous, but they scarfed it down.

                        1. re: jvanderh

                          It's better when it's room temperature rather than actually being cold.

                        2. re: hankstramm

                          Second the Spanish tortilla suggestion.

                          1. re: hankstramm

                            Guess I should have read further before posting...people are surprisingly adventurous. Mom my tried a semi-tapas theme for a spa party years ago (I was probably in high school or college) and these fairly picky women were coming back for more tortilla. It helps that all the ingredients are recognizable.