There are few ways to say you care better than a homemade meal that comes from the heart. Whether you’re dropping off a lasagna at the local firehouse or health clinic to express your appreciation, or swinging by a friend’s house or a community gathering, these are the seven big-batch recipes you want in your back pocket. They’re relatively inexpensive to compose, they travel well, and there’s a variety of options for vegetarians, vegans, carnivores and cheese-lovers alike. (Hello, truffled mac!) When it comes to delicious dishes meant for sharing, here’s what we’re daydreaming about.
What would America be without lasagna? It’s hard to say. This one boasts two types of meat and four (!) types of cheese. Yes, four. There’s both low-moisture and Buffalo mozzarella, which as pizza lovers know is key to the right sort of meltiness, plus Parmesan and ricotta. You can make one dreamboat of a big dish or break this out into little aluminum to-go loaf pans. (That enables the lucky recipient to stash one in the freezer for a September cold snap.)
The slow cooker and Instant Pots are your buddies for hands-off meals. This soup is deeply smoky thanks to the addition of ham hocks. It’s also deeply inexpensive to make; anything based around beans usually is! You do a few minutes of work up-front, then pop it in the slow cooker for four hours. Ahh; so lovely to have someone else do the labor.
During shelter-in-place, raising-children, working-from-home-with-a-spouse and who-is-walking-that-dog? times, make-ahead is a blessing. For the socially distanced outdoor picnic or gathering, this breakfast strata Lorraine is tough to beat. Brimming with Gruyère and ham, it’s arguably better than its quiche equivalent. Do the work the night prior; pop it in the oven the morning you need it. (We don’t care how strong your A/C is; we’re all for early-morning and late-night baking to take the edge off!)
What can’t you do with quinoa? Our Test kitchen director loves to make a big batch of the stuff. She eats it for breakfast with fruit and almond milk. She folds it into bowls with eggs and greens. Quinoa travels well, stores well, and can be bundled into a bag with all sorts of yummy veggies and cooked meats for DIY, feels-like-a-fancy-deli delivery.
Yes, it’s as good as it looks. IP chicken posole is a snap, keeps the kitchen cool, tastes incredible both fresh and reheated, and can be seasoned to taste. Its five-star reviewers aren’t lying; this recipe featuring plenty of juicy tomatillos is the jam. (For delivery, include avocados, cilantro leaves, mini bottles of hot sauce, a bit of salt, and a sliced lime!)
What the what? Yes, truffled mac and cheese is downright sumptuous. It’s ideal for when you don’t want to “just” drop off baked pasta. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!) Gruyère, white cheddar and half-and-half mingle beautifully with Dijon and sweet paprika. The whole thing gets a drizzle of truffle oil that’s almost more for aroma than taste. Almost. It doesn’t hurt that it tastes incredible, too.
You have had it. You have no time, you need to impress, and you need to feed a crew, miraculously, in loaves-and-fishes style. Consider a ham. Put out a big green salad and some cheese for the non-meat-eaters, do mix biscuits, and find some good mustard. A sliced ham is a feast. It looks incredible, boosts spirits, and practically does all the work itself. And this particular summer? That’s both what you need and deserve.