Anyone who has kids — or too many Zoom meetings or an easily distractible nature or . . . — knows how hard it can be to eat a meal while it’s still warm. Often, we find ourselves eating room-temperature dishes by accident and not intent. Maybe we should just lean into it and try to serve more dishes that are just fine when they’re not piping hot.

They’re definitely handy when you’re wrangling your family to finally sit down to eat, but room-temperature recipes are also ideal for picnics or patio meals, or just the style of graze-as-you-go, small-scale entertaining we may be having with our vaccinated loved ones now. (As a reminder, to prevent bacterial illness, the government recommends not leaving food out for more than 2 hours, or 1 hour if temperatures are above 90 degrees.)

Here are some ideas from our archives that are more than happy to wait on you.

Balsamic Chicken, White Bean and Carrot Salad, above. Not only will this dish stand up to hanging out at room temperature, but you can prepare it up to a day in advance to bring out at your leisure.


Mediterranean Crunch Salad. Salads are always an option when you don’t want to keep a dish warm. This one is loaded with texture and good looks. See also: Mediterranean Cauliflower Platter.


Quiche With Broccoli, Gorgonzola and Walnuts. Quiche is a dish you can enjoy fresh from the oven as well as after it has cooled. This one has a lovely puff pastry crust.


Cold Tahini Noodles With Vegetables. Put out a big bowl of these creamy, spicy noodles, and let everyone serve themselves. It would be very easy to switch out the vegetables as desired.


Hummus Plate With Cumin-Roasted Carrots. While the recipe calls for individual servings, you could absolutely spread it onto one large dish for even more visual impact.

Spicy Mango Chili Wraps. Here’s an adaptable, fun recipe that doesn’t even require you to turn on your oven.


Pickled Gulf Shrimp. For this recipe from our Essential Cookbooks newsletter, shrimp gets marinated overnight and then brought out the next day to serve with tomatoes and avocado.

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