I Want Your Recipes: Make-Ahead Spring/Summer Dinners!

It’s springtime! (Or, summertime, apparently, based on Washington DC’s recent weather.) Therefore, it seems like it’s time for some springtime and summertime food. To me, that means lots of fresh fruits and veggies and delicious meats cooked on a grill. Well, crap. I live alone, so fresh veggies frequently go bad before I’ve had time to eat them all up, and I live in an apartment, so no grill for me! What’s a girl to do?

I’ve mastered fall and winter cooking for one – I’ve got three different chili recipes, two chicken soup recipes, a killer beef stew, etc, and I usually make one early in the week and live off it until it’s gone, or until it would be best to freeze the rest before it goes bad. Those recipes, usually paired with a roasted vegetable, get me through the cold months in which one craves food that sticks to one’s ribs.

But it is warmer now, and I find myself stumped for the sort of make-ahead meals that work for me. And when I say “work for me,” I mean meals that require little-to-no prep time the day-of, aren’t too carbohydrate-heavy, are healthy but don’t make me feel like I’m denying myself, and, most importantly, are delicious as hell.

Two that I’ve made in the past are baked chicken strips – both Pioneer Woman’s and these sriracha nuggets, but they require reheating in the oven, and PW’s, at least, get pretty dried out on the re-heat. They also require some sort of salad or green to go along with them, prepped day-of. Another recipe I’m a fan of is spinach, mushroom, and Swiss cheese quiche, made in a par-baked crust of shredded potato (If you’re interested, make my potato pancake recipe with 2 ““ 3 large potatoes, and instead of frying the mixture, press it all into a pie plate and bake it at, oh, 350° F for 20 ““ 30 minutes, until it’s starting to turn golden brown. Fill with quiche filling, and bake until the quiche is set, covering the edge with tinfoil if necessary.) But this, too, requires oven-reheating. There are a few salmon cake recipes I’ve been eying on Punchfork, but I have yet to try any. (Do you all go to Punchfork? I’m kind of obsessed with the site – they aggregate a bunch of different food blogs, just by a picture and recipe name. It’s great when you’ve got a vague idea of what you want, or really, have no idea and are just looking for inspiration!)

So, have any suggestions? What are some of your favorite make-ahead spring and summer meals?

By CherriSpryte

CherriSpryte wants you to know that The Great Pumpkin loves you.

24 replies on “I Want Your Recipes: Make-Ahead Spring/Summer Dinners!”

I’m making a variation on this pulled pork sandwich right now; I’ll let you know tonight how it turned out. Most people think of crock pots in the fall/winter, but I love using mine in warm weather because I can cook a ton of food without heating up the whole kitchen. You can also make burrito filling in there. Both recipes make a lot of meat that you can just heat up as needed and spoon onto a roll or tortilla.


Success! It turned out fantastic and there is so much left over. I used a 2 1/2 lb boneless Boston butt, a can of regular Coke, Key Lime barbecue sauce from this awesome local mini-chain called Adams Fairacre Farms, and seasoning salt from the same place. After 7 hours on low the pork practically melted when I took a fork to shred it. The sauce was a bit thinner than I’d hoped, but I don’t think I put in enough bbq sauce since I was using a smaller bottle than the recipe called for. Put it on some club rolls and picked up some fancy mac ‘n’ cheese and it was perfect.

My favorite summer dinner was always my mom’s chicken salad. You’ll need a can of pineapple chunks, a can of mandarin oranges, green grapes (sliced in half), bowtie or shell pasta, and chicken breast. Cut up the chicken breast into inch or so sized pieces and poach it in some of the pineapple juice. Then toss the cooked pasta, chicken, and fruit together in a big bowl. Take a liiiittle bit of mayonnaise or miracle whip and thin it out with pineapple or orange juice from the canned fruit, then toss the stuff in the bowl with it so it doesn’t dry out. Serve hot or cold, with slivered almonds on top.

It sounds weird/gross (especially the mayo part), but it is a big family favorite. My brother used to have like three servings every time my mom made it when I was a kid. The best part is that there’s minimal cooking, and you can make a big bowl ahead of time. It’ll keep for a couple of days in the fridge (if it lasts that long). You could probably even toss the chicken with fruit juice on low heat in a slow cooker so you wouldn’t have to do any standing around in the kitchen at all beyond boiling the pasta.

I’m also a really big fan of this strawberry caprese salad served with grilled chicken, which I discovered a couple of summers ago, which just needs an extra splash of balsamic before serving if you make it ahead of time or have it over multiple days (it can get a little dry in the fridge).

This isn’t really a dinner, but it’s one of my favourite snacks and it’s really fresh and bitey and cuts through anything.

Really Simple Red Onion Salty Thingy Which Probably Has a Better Name And Goes Well With Curry;


Half a red onion
Some salt (a few tea spoons is fine.)
A small bowl
Running water (>.>)

1. Peel the red onion half, slice it into two quarters and tear it into long strips (you can slice it, but basically you want long curvy strips rather than small bits.
2. Put a few teaspoons of salt in a bowl of water. Put your slices in the water.
3. Leave for half an hour.
4. Drain the bowl and wash the onion in cold water.
5. Serve.

You can leave this stuff refrigerated for a few days totally fine, and it goes great with anything savoury. It’s wonderful for cutting through spicy food.

Greek Salad. THE REAL WAY.

1/2 watermelon

1 block feta

1 batch of fresh mint, chopped

1/3 cup olive oil

1 lemon

Mix watermelon, feta, mint, and olive oil all together. Garnish with lemon. Serve.

Voila. I eat only this during summertime and its filling but light. It is also incredibly delicious and proves that greek folk kick ass at making food. and that greek salads are not some crappy lettuce, canned olive, 1 tomato bs.

First – you need a countertop grill.  I love mine, and I eat ALL THE GRILLED CHICKENS. The newer ones (mine is a wedding gift from ’99) have removable plates so they’re cake to clean up.

Second – do you have a blender? Either a stand blender or an immersion blender will do, but they’re great for making creamy soups out of delicious summer veggies.  I like mixing and matching, but my favorite is sweet potatoes, butternut squash and carrots.  Peel and chop your veggies (I’d go for about 1/2 pound of raw veggies per serving you want to make) and cook the shit out of them. Blend them with a little chicken or veggie stock, a bit of cream or butter and whatever seasoning makes your mouth happy. Stick it in the fridge at least overnight, and you’ve got delicious cold soup!

No worries! A long forced bout on the Atkins diet at a very young age somehow put me off pasta specifically, pretty much for good, but I wrote this post with the hope that other people would find the recipes posted in the comments useful as well, so it’s all good!

And the replacement with diced cucumbers sounds like a fantastic idea!

I have a lovely one for a sesame chicken romen noodle salad that actually is best when made the night before and served room temp the following day.  If you’re interested, I can dig it out.  It’s still so freaking cold here in Idaho, I haven’t pulled out my summer clothes or recipes!

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