It's hot. You don't want to cook. But eating a sliced heirloom tomato (again) while standing in the kitchen doesn't quite cut it as dinner. Savoring produce in its most simple form is divine, but it's also nice to sit down and eat an actual meal.
As a service to myself and others, I went digging through some old favorites with the hope of injecting some inspiration and ease into my summer meals. Meals that are high on flavor but low on heat and mess. Below are a few basic breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks -- because summer is all about simple pleasures.
What are some of your favorite things to make this time of year? Suggestions and inspirations welcome in the comments below.
Zucchini Pappardelle with Spicy Tahini Sauce
No need to julienne or spiralize this plant pasta, just use a regular vegetable peeler to make 'ribbons' that can then be mixed with your favorite sauce. Tahini is great because it's so versatile and can be used as a salad dressing, a dip, or as a spread on a great piece of toast.
- 2 zucchinis
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 2 TBSP warm water
- 1 TBSP lemon juice
- 1-2 cloves garlic
- Sea salt and pepper, to taste
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- 10 basil leaves, thinly sliced (optional)
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- ¼ cup olives, sliced
Using a vegetable peeler, peel long pappardelle-like ribbons of zucchini and into a bowl. Stop once you get to the seeds. They’re very watery and will make the sauce too soupy. Enjoy the core in some fresh water with mint, or slice it up and throw it in a salad.
In a jar combine the tahini, water, garlic, lemon juice, salt and cayenne pepper and shake well to thoroughly combine.
Dress the pappardelle with the tahini dressing and garnish with olives and cherry tomatoes. If you need extra protein, fry an egg and put that on top. The gooey yolk will incorporate beautifully into the sauce.
Gazpacho is a wonderful 'make ahead' meal since the combination of flavors deepen over a couple days. What's better than cooking once and eating for several days? Adding garbanzo beans to this soup is what makes this feel like a real meal, instead of a salad you don't have to chew.
*Image from The Sugar Detox Me*
- 1 can of garbanzo beans, well rinsed (optional)
- 2 medium tomatoes or 2 cups of cherry tomatoes
- 5 cups tomato juice
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- 1 Cucumber
- ½ red onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 TBSP lime juice
- 2 TBSP white wine vinegar
- Pinch of Cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- Sea salt + black pepper, to taste
Take your bell pepper, cucumber, tomatoes, onion and finely dice half of them. Roughly chop the other half and put them in the food processor/blender with the tomato juice, garlic, herbs, lime juice and vinegar and blend well.
Take your blended soup and add in your finely diced veggies and garbanzo beans. Mix well to combine. Adjust to taste.
This is a good make-ahead meal. The flavors will marry really nicely if you let it sit in the fridge for a few hours before serving.
Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, avocado, diced vegetables, and/or microgreens
Fresh Herb Salad with Smoked Fish
This salad feels like something you would order at a nice restaurant. The combination of salty fish with creamy cheese, crisp lettuce, and a mixture of fresh herbs in each bite makes this a feast for all the senses. Best of all, it only takes minutes to make.
- 1 small head leaf lettuce, cleaned and chopped
- ½ cup mixed fresh herbs such as parsley, mint, basil, cilantro or dill, roughly chopped
- ¼ pound of smoked fish (featured here is local trout)
- An assortment of vegetables: sliced summer squash, cucumber, radish, radicchio, etc.
- Goat cheese (optional)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or hickory oil
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 TBSP stone ground mustard
- Sprinkle of salt + pepper
Throw all your greens and herbs in a bowl with whatever vegetables you have on hand.
Make the dressing by putting all ingredients in a jar with a lid and mixing well until thoroughly combined.
Dress the salad to your liking and toss well to coat all the greens evenly. Plate the salad and top with smoked fish and cheese.
Chocolate Chip Power Balls
These are great for those snacky moments where you need nutrition but can't be bothered to make anything. The fiber, fat, and protein will give you a nice boost and sustained energy. Another sweet side effect is knowing that 'past you' took a moment to look out for 'future you'. Because few things tastes as good as self care feels.
Yield: 6-9 balls
- ½ cup oats
- ¼ cup almond or peanut butter
- ¼ cup chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoons hemp seeds
- 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
- ½ tablespoon maple syrup
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp salt
Put the oats, nut butter, seeds, maple syrup, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Mix well to combine. Then add in your chocolate chips. Mix again to incorporate. Form the mix into balls, approximately 1 TBSP in size.
If the mixture feels dry, add in a little more nut butter, as that’s the glue.
Store in the fridge. These make a great snack or on-the-go breakfast.
Note: You could swap the chocolate chips with dried fruit or do half and half. You can also add in any power powders such as ashwaganda or maca to make them more medicinal.
This is one of the easiest and heartiest of breakfasts I've ever found. It's as simple as mixing oats and milk, leaving it in the fridge, then adding your 'fixings' in the morning. you can make a larger batch (I tend to do 2-3 small jars at a time) so it requires even less thought for the reward.
- ½ cup oats
- ½ cup milk (or milk alternative)
- pinch of salt
- 1 TBSP almond/peanut butter or seeds
- Sliced fruit and/or drizzle of honey
- Dash of cinnamon
Mix your oats and milk in a jar and put them in the fridge overnight. In the morning, mix well then add in a pinch of salt and whatever toppings you enjoy.
Pictured here are: peanut butter and strawberry jam (l), honey, vanilla, and sesame seeds (r)
The most divine of desserts, this sweet treat is so simple yet you'll want to savor every spoonful. Of course it can be made with any wine (cabernet sorbet, chardonnay sorbet, etc.) but rosé is so quintessentially summer it seemed the most fitting. Use the best quality berries you can get your hands on and blend it really well for the best texture.
- 2 cups frozen berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries or a mix)
- ½ banana (ideally, pre-frozen)
- ½ cup Rosé wine
- ¼ cup organic sugar (optional)
Put everything in the blender and mix until smooth. Serve immediately.
As a make-ahead option, you can freeze the prepared sorbet in an airtight container with a layer of parchment paper or saran wrap placed directly on the surface of the sorbet. This will keep oxygen from hitting your frozen treat and prevent freezer burn. Allow about 10 to 15 minutes for the sorbet to soften at room temperature before serving.