Photo: Quentin Bacon
Favorite foods on national holidays must strum the heartstrings, but we’re all for a twist or two to keep the tune fresh. Potato salad, for example, needs to hit creamy, starchy, comforting notes, but why not update by ditching the mayo and swathing the spuds in a combo of nutty crème fraîche, tangy buttermilk, and a handful of fresh herbs? Baked beans are a favorite gooey treat—made more interesting with a trio of legumes for fun colors and textures; a hit of smoked paprika deepens the bacon-y flavor throughout every bite. Standard coleslaw is a crunchy must-have, and something spectacular happens when you opt for a fresh lime dressing and load in lots of jalapeño peppers and cilantro. For something sweet, we have shortbread-crusted cheesecake bars made zippy with real, fresh cherries. The following recipes are all designed to be made ahead and are perfectly portable—ideal for toting or setting out at your own patriotic bash.