Photo: AndreyPopov (iStock)

Whether out of heat-induced torpidity or general laziness, I primarily eat cold foods during the summer. (Grilling excepted.) Because I don’t own a microwave, the process of reheating leftovers on the stove or in the oven is one I can easily forgo once the thermostat hits the 80s. And while this habit was completely born of circumstances, it has, for some foods, become my preference to eat them straight from the refrigerator.

Hot foods served cold take on new textures, even new balances of flavors. While plenty of us know the joys of cold pizza—different in texture to be sure, but also somehow more tomato-forward, less about the cheese’s fat—fewer experiment with other straight-from-the-fridge foods. Those people are missing out on some wonderful options, including my following personal favorites.

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Meatloaf sandwiches are underrated.
Photo: SlatteryMedia (iStock)

Meatloaf

If it’s approved by the sandwich makers at the greatest deli on earth, it’s okay in my book: hearty, seeded multigrain bread + a generous swipe of aioli + a slab of cold meatloaf + lettuce and tomato. There may be no finer picnic sandwich.

Bratwurst

Leftover bratwurst from a backyard grilling session, once sliced into little medallions, make excellent toppings for Triscuits. The fat inside congeals to form a kielbasa-like disc whose texture and porky flavor is charcuterie-reminiscent. Top the cracker and sausage with cheese and it’s practically a meal.

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Baked beans

Another grilling staple that produces copious leftover, baked beans’ maple and brown sugar flavors dominate when they’re cold. Any smoke or bacon-savoriness steps entirely to the background, making cold baked beans nearly dessert-appropriate in their syrupy sweetness. It’s not a replacement for regular (hot) baked beans, but a new angle on one of my favorite summer foods.

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Salmon

I love a salad topped with salmon, which somehow seems lighter and less buttery-rich to me when it’s cold. This makes it less satisfying, maybe, as a main dish, but flaked on top of a salad, I prefer it.

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Mac and cheese

I saved the most controversial for last. Yes, I know the cheese becomes glue-like when cold, and yes, I know that creates mac lumps rather than individual noodles, but no, I don’t think this diminishes my enjoyment of cold mac and cheese. Cold mac does require a generous grind of fresh pepper, but I really like it as a lazy woman’s cold pasta salad.

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If you have a favorite hot food to eat cold, please consider this the absolute safest of spaces to share your opinions. I promise you’ll find me a kindred spirit.

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