The summer heat is in full swing here at Mama C’s. We have had almost two weeks straight of over 90° weather, with no end in sight. Even though I finally live in a house with central air, I still don’t really feel much like cooking over a hot stove. So, here are some of my favorite No Cook Dinner Ideas.
No Cook Dinner: Fresh Simple Ingredients = Easy Summer Meals
If you read my Efficient Kitchen Series, you know that planning is key. Some of the basic ingredients I like to keep on hand for the summer season includes:
- This super delicious, thin sliced, salt cured pork is great as a snack, in salads or on sandwiches
- Cooked Chicken
- Having cooked chicken in the freezer means I have it available to add protein to any salad
- Lunch Meat
- Even Oscar Meyer has jumped on the natural ingredient, no nitrate/nitrite bandwagon
- Hard Sausage/Salami
- We have recently discovered Duke’s brand sausage. But, there is a wide variety available that are naturally made
- Hard Boiled Eggs
- Great for just an egg salad, or even as a topping for a nice chef salad
This is obviously up to your preference, but we are cheese fans here and like to keep a variety on hand. Summer favorites include:
- Hard Cheeses for Slicing
- Cheddar, Colby, Gouda, etc.
- Fresh Mozzarella
- Refreshing and perfect with garden fresh tomatoes
- Salad Fixings
- Lettuce, Carrots, Celery, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Bell Peppers
- A nice selection of what happens to be in season
- Fresh Herbs
- Basil, Thyme, Oregano, Rosemary, Chives
From the Pantry
- Salad Oils
- Olive, Avocado or Grape Seed
- Balsamic, Apple Cider and White Wine
- Shelled Sunflower Seeds
No Cook Dinner Salads
When I think of not cooking dinner, I usually head straight to a salad. Most salads can be made to incorporate in season vegetables and some protein, so you’re not hungry later. I also love the fact that I can usually make enough salad to last for a couple of meals, rather than just one.
Some nice mixed greens, thinly sliced carrots and celery, shredded cheddar cheese, bite size slices of turkey & ham, topped with a sliced hard boiled egg and your favorite dressing. The addition of sunflower seeds give it some additional crunch and nutritious fat.
Tomato, Tuna & Caper Salad
The original recipe is by Nick Stellino, who has since made it available to subscribers only. We’ve been enjoying this salad for a few years now, and I make it a little more simply than he does. Slice up a nice, fresh tomato. Sprinkle it with a mixture of sea salt, garlic salt and onion powder (plus a little cayenne if you’re daring). Top with pieces of really good tuna, packed in olive oil. Sprinkle with capers, rinsed if you don’t like the added salt, and slices of black olives. You can poor a little bit of olive oil over the salad, too.
I cannot even begin to describe the difference in taste and texture between your standard canned tuna and the tuna packed in large pieces in a jar. We spend the extra coin and buy this Tonnino brand tuna especially for this salad. Each jar will make us 4-6 salads, depending on whether they are stand alone meals or sides.
I like to start with a base of mixed greens, top with a little cooked chicken, shredded cheddar and a “dressing” made from salsa and a little sour cream. Alternatively, you can heat the chicken first in the microwave, or even use some precooked hamburger.
For me, nothing beats fresh tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese. Unless, of course you combine them with fresh herbs, a little sea salt and olive oil. The trick is to slice the tomatoes and combine everything, except the mozzarella cheese, about an hour before serving. Leave it out on the counter, as the magic does not happen in the fridge. The salt will pull the juices and flavors out of the tomatoes, combining them with the fresh herbs and olive oil. When you put in the pieces of mozzarella cheese just before serving, its almost heaven. For an added touch, try a drizzle of balsamic vinegar!
Beyond The Salad
One of our favorite things to do, is to have a nice glass of wine with a Charcuterie platter. When going to wine tastings, it is served with slices of hard cheeses, flavorful hard salamis, good olives and some fresh vegetables. Recreating this as a No Cook Dinner at home is easy, if you have your favorite ingredients on hand. A Charcuterie platter is a perfect low key dinner, when you really don’t want much fuss or muss.
Of course you could have a sandwich or a wrap, and call that good too.
A Sweet Finish
Since summer is fruit season, it is really nice to just simply enjoy some fresh fruit or berries. I love to add a little fresh whipped cream, or pair it with some fresh Jello (made from juice of course). If you really want a nice treat (with minimal cooking), try making some Broken Glass Jello.
Enjoy the season, and stay cool 🙂