As much as we love cooking a delicious dinner, the warm summer weather gets us excited to do anything BUT spend upward of an hour in the kitchen. Plus, fresh summer produce only needs a little slicing, seasoning, and minimal (if any) cooking to taste amazing.
We asked some of our favorite food experts what their favorite simple throw-together meals are for when they want to spend more time eating al fresco than preparing the food itself. Below are nine meal ideas to whip up this week.
Fish Tacos + Lettuce Wraps
Photo credit: @eatrealfoodnyc
Heather Cox of Eat Real Food NYC says, “My go-to is quinoa or rice with pesto and eggs or a piece of fish on top or fish tacos wrapped in lettuce leaves with homemade guac and salsa. It’s super easy and really just involves chopping up a few ingredients and cooking some fish!”
SOBA NOODLES + VEGETABLES
Talented food photographer and stylist Anett Velsberg reaches for buckwheat noodles:
“A cold soba noodle salad with spiralized cucumbers or whatever crunchy veggies or greens I have, mixed with a dressing made by whisking together tahini, a little bit of miso paste, lime juice, and water. This never ceases to amaze me!”
QUINOA + VEGGIE BOWL
Nadia Felsch is a nutritionist-in-training, recipe developer, and food stylist. For an easy dinner, she’s all about using what she’s got.
“The ultimate go-to easy meal for me is what I call a ‘Clear Out Salad.’
“It’s just a mix of every veggie I’ve got in the house. Sometimes there’s already some roasted pumpkin or sweet potato in the fridge, or I might quickly grill a few mushrooms, and others can be served raw, like green leaves, radish, and red cabbage.
“To that I add the cooked quinoa that’s forever ready and waiting in my fridge, loads of fresh herbs, a sprinkling of chopped nuts, feta cheese, and quality olive oil. Done and yum!”
Photo credit: @heavenlynnhealthy
Lynn also suggests using avocado halves as your container for other yummy ingredients.
“I love to fill my avocados with delicious things like chickpeas or tomatoes. There’s no recipe needed for this, either. You can also just fill them with leftover salads, grains, or legumes.”
QUINOA + VEGETABLES
Holistic nutritionist Jesse Lane Lee keeps it low-maintenance.
Jesse says, “My quick dinner of choice is quinoa with whatever fresh veggies and herbs I have in my fridge topped with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.” We love her Japanese-inspired sesame and edamame bowl (pictured above).
GLUTEN-FREE PASTA + TOMATOES
Photo credit: @phoebelapine
Cookbook author and chef Phoebe Lapine, of Feed Me Phoebe, goes classic with a gluten-free twist:
“I love doing a really simple Pomodoro pasta salad with quinoa penne, halved fresh cherry or chopped heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil, minced garlic, sea salt, good olive oil, and just a splash of balsamic. It’s so delicious and easy—plus the tomatoes taste better the longer they sit.”
ZUCCHINI NOODLES + PESTO
Holistic nutritionist Sophie Bourdon knows what’s up:
“My favorite easy meal during the warmer days is definitely zucchini noodles! It’s my go-to when I don’t feel like cooking or don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen on a hot summer night.
“I’ll usually throw together a quick pesto with some fresh herbs from the garden and toss it with the noodles and some veggies—quickly sautéed mushrooms, spinach, and fresh ripe tomatoes are some of my favorites.
“I always top it with a quick vegan Parmesan that I make by simply crushing nuts, nutritional yeast, and sea salt in a mortar and pestle. This dinner comes together in about 15 minutes and always hits the spot!”
Photo credit: @simplytaylorblog
Registered dietitian Taylor Riggs makes it sweet:
“My favorite simple summer meal would probably have to be a smoothie bowl! They are quick, refreshing, nutrient-dense, and can be made with anything you have on hand. Almond milk, frozen fruit, nut butter, and spinach are my “base” ingredients, and then the add-in possibilities are endless! Hemp seeds, protein powder, cinnamon, avocado—it’s easy to mix and match your flavors as needed!”
Leah Vanderveldt is mindbodygreen’s food editor and has previously worked for Vogue, Vanity Fair, and Australian Home Beautiful. An avid cook and vegetable lover, Leah is certified in culinary nutrition from the Natural Gourmet Institute and is currently writing her first cookbook, The New Nourishing, due out fall 2017.