When temperatures soar, my dinner plans don’t include an oven or stovetop. Frankly, even the barbecue gives off too much heat.
That’s why I’ve been experimenting with meals that require no cooking at all. I start with local, farm-fresh produce and pair it with protein options that require no cooking such as beans, nuts, seeds, canned fish and Greek yogurt. Here are some of my tastiest no-heat-required meals.
Breakfast: Overnight Oats
I love oatmeal in the winter, but a steaming bowl of comfort food during a heat wave is totally unappealing. Enter overnight oats, a refrigerated oatmeal concoction that requires no heat to prepare. Bonus: it’s served cold! In a jar, combine ½ cup oats, ½ cup milk (or non-dairy alternative), ⅓ cup of Greek yogurt and 1 teaspoon chia seeds. Cover and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, add a handful of in-season berries and breakfast is done.
Lunch: Customizable Salad
I can’t get enough of juicy field tomatoes and English cucumbers in summer. These seasonal wonders become the base for an easy Greek salad, which also includes canned chickpeas, feta cheese and Kalamata olives. It takes five minutes to prepare, and is great for toting to work in a large jar.
I also love building salads on a bed of greens, then adding seasonal produce. To make the salad into a meal, I add any of these no-cook protein options:
- Canned tuna or salmon
- Canned chickpeas, beans or lentils
- Nuts such as almonds, walnuts, pecans or pistachios
- Seeds such as sesame, pumpkin or sunflower
- Cheese such as feta, goat, asiago, cheddar or mozzarella
- Crunchy chickpeas, peanuts, wasabi peas or soy nuts
- Store-bought rotisserie chicken
These items allow for unlimited combinations, so I can enjoy a new lunch salad every day!
Dinner: 4 No-Cooking-Required Inspirations
Here’s a twist on using appliances in summer — only rely on the ones that don’t give off heat! I love making an easy gazpacho with shrimp. The only kitchen tools used are a blender and a freezer. It’s made with watermelon, cantaloupe, tomato, cucumber and jalapenos, and topped with defrosted frozen pre-cooked shrimp. Simple and delicious!
Or, how about tacos? Of course, I have no desire to brown meat when the sun is beating down. That’s how I discovered that canned lentils — mashed with oregano and chili powder — perfectly mimic the taste and texture of cooked ground beef. Add it to corn tortillas and top it with avocado, salsa and cilantro for a delicious meal.
Some days, nothing beats a sandwich. I love making dinner sandwiches with crusty whole-grain bread, hummus, cheddar cheese, tomatoes, shredded carrot, spinach and sliced raw beets. (That’s right raw beets! They add terrific crunch and a sweet, earthy flavor.) I also keep plenty of shaved turkey breast, smoked tofu and hummus on hand for use in wraps, pitas or corn tortillas.
One last idea for a no-cook dinner: a plate of cold “tapas.” Try artfully arranging bean salad, whole-grain pita, marinated mushrooms, prosciutto-wrapped cantaloupe, roasted red peppers and hard cheeses on a platter.