Undeniably, the best part of any season is the excellent produce that comes along with it. That’s especially true during the summer, when juicy heirloom tomatoes and peaches appear on our phone screens and at our markets in equal abundance. The recipes that best take advantage of the seasonal harvest are always the ones that require the least and let the fresh flavors speak for themselves—a formula that also happens to lend itself well to prepping ahead.
Set yourself up for salad success this summer by whipping up one of these seven recipes the night before you intend to eat them. Prepare them while you’re making dinner; take care to separate the dressing and produce until you’re ready to eat to prevent any sogginess; and go to bed knowing that lunch is already waiting for you.
Seasonal ingredient: Strawberries
The end of spring or beginning of summer is the ideal time to make this fruity dish from How Sweet Eats, because that’s when strawberries are at their peak. The salad is also a great excuse to start preparing big batches of quinoa on the weekend, so you have some ready to go whenever you want to whip it up. Not to mention, if your strawberries are small enough, you don’t even need to chop them beforehand—just rinse and add to the salad.
Seasonal ingredients: Corn, zucchini, tomatoes, and bell peppers
This noodle salad from I Am a Food Blog is one of those recipes that gets better the longer it sits. You’ll want to dress it when you prepare it the night before—that will give the noodles more time to soak up all that flavor. However, keep the veggies separate if you want them to maintain their crunch.
Seasonal ingredient: Cucumbers
While creamy recipes usually feel a bit heavy during the summer, this one from A Couple Cooks bucks the trend and is totally refreshing. Slice the cucumbers and shallots and make the dressing ahead of time, but don’t combine everything until you’re ready to eat. It will get soggy within two hours once you have.
Seasonal ingredients: Corn and zucchini
With corn, zucchini, and a sun-dried tomato dressing, this recipe from Minimalist Baker presents the summer produce trifecta at its best. Roasted chickpeas are an optional addition, which we recommend if you prefer your salad with a bit of crunch—they can also be prepared in bulk whenever you have the time. And you can prep the remaining ingredients the night before. Any longer than that and their smoky, charred flavors will dull.
Seasonal ingredient: Watermelon
You’ll need to track down a couple special ingredients, like black lava salt and black rice, to make this recipe from Wu Haus, but it’s so worth it. You can scoop the watermelon the night before, but remember that combining it with the black rice prematurely may result in sogginess. Keep it all separate until D-day if you can.
Seasonal ingredients: Tomatoes and cucumbers
There’s an easy way to ensure that this panzanella from Gimme Some Oven doesn’t turn to mush: Use whole cherry tomatoes instead of chopping them. That way their juices stay inside and your bread stays nice and crispy—until you douse it with dressing anyway.
Seasonal ingredients: Green beans and peaches
If you are planning on making this salad from Brooklyn Supper the night before, opt for the hardest, most unripe peaches you can find. Overnight, they’ll soften and ripen so that they’re the perfect texture when you’re ready to eat.
It’s hammer time: Follow @reno_notebook for easy rental updates, clever DIYs, and tips to nail your next project.