As the weather kicks into high gear, some meals are best prepared and enjoyed without spending hours in a kitchen. Heading outside for a grilling party is one option, but if you’d rather keep things cool, try recipes that use the cool temperatures of the refrigerator to marry ingredients and combine flavors.
We’ve put together a menu of dishes that can all be prepared with refrigeration, ideal for creating meals and spreads that will make great party fare even on the hottest days. These recipes also really help emphasize the bright, bold, and fresh flavors of summer produce with quick techniques that keep the flavors of seasonal ingredients on the forefront. And no matter which recipe you’re marinating or chilling—from old-school Italian to farm-fresh Spanish—the Perfect Temp Drawer will ensure your ingredients stays fresh and crisp, thanks to its customizable temperature zone, designed to store foods at the ideal temperature. And if space is a concern, the Luxury-Design Glass Shelves literally lift out with one hand, so it’s easy to pull out a shelf quickly or rearrange if need be!
For a great appetizer, try the Italian classic bruschetta. The traditional flavor is tomatoes, garlic, and basil, but this simple dish can be adjusted for whatever vegetables and flavors you like. The tried-and-true combination of roasted beets and goat cheese makes for a perfect make-ahead bruschetta or crostini, or you can improvise. Just toss together your ingredients—caramelized onions and cannellini beans, or a mixture of grilled mushrooms with fresh thyme and balsamic vinegar—and let the mixture sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, so that the flavors can develop. If you already have the grill going, toast thick slabs of bread—first rubbed with garlic and olive oil—for a nice charred flavor. Top the bread with the bruschetta mix.
Moving on to the first course, think chilled soups with a nice and refreshing gazpacho. The authentic Spanish version is made with a combination of tomatoes, cucumbers, red bell pepper, and garlic, but you can adjust the recipe to your liking and add everything from tomatillos and yellow tomatoes for bright color, to grapes, pineapple, strawberries, or melon for a sweet twist. Combine ingredients in a food processor, along with some olive oil, vinegar, and salt, and chill overnight. You can serve this in bowls, or it can be a fun appetizer served in small cocktail cups or shot glasses. Garnish the top with a little lemon zest and finishing salt, and you’ve got a Grade A starter.
A variety of ceviche preparations make a great chilled main course. The recipe simply combines raw fish with citrus juice and spices; the acid helps breakdown the protein in the fish, much like cooking would, and the flesh becomes firmer after marinating. Combine your favorite seafood, such as salmon, shrimp, or sea bass, with a marinade of red onions, citrus juice, chilies, salt, and pepper. Let sit refrigerated for at least one hour and up to 12. And don’t just limit yourself to fish; in Peru it’s common to find corn, potato, and sweet potatoes all used in ceviche, while countries like Ecuador often use ketchup in their ceviche.
And for a simple and sweet ending to the meal, a trifle is a nice chilled dessert that can highlight the delicious farmer's market fruits. In a large glass-serving dish or bowl, create repeating layers of diced fruit or berries, cubes of angel food or pound cake—best soaked in a simple syrup or espresso—and whipped cream. Chill for at least one hour before serving.