Slideshow: SE Staff Picks: Favorite Cool-Off Summer Dinners

Cold Somen or Soba Noodles
Cold Somen or Soba Noodles
They cook in a matter of minutes, so you don't have to worry about heating up the apartment too much. Then you chill them down in ice water, drain them, and serve them with cold tsuyu—a dipping sauce made with dashi, mirin, and soy (I always keep a carton in my fridge). You can eat them as is, or fancy them up a bit with sliced vegetables like carrots, scallions, blanched spinach, or seaweed, and add a touch of wasabi if you like it hot. —J.Kenji Lopez-Alt

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

More Soba!
More Soba!
Chilled soba, Japanese buckwheat noodles, is great on a hot day because it's...well, not hot. (I mean, you can lots of ways to use soba, but a simple mound of cool soba topped with shredded nori and a bowl of soba tsuyu to dip in makes a quick and easy dinner. —Robyn Lee

[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Vicky's Summer Salads
Vicky's Summer Salads
Two salads that Vicky makes: feta, watermelon, and arugula salad or walnuts, romaine, and aged Gorgonzola, served with what else, pizza bianca or a baguette. —Ed Levine

Photo note: This isn't Vicky's exact watermelon and feta salad, but anther delicious one we found over on Photograzing.

Veggie Frittatas
Veggie Frittatas
I like summer dinners with minimal effort and maximum vegetables. Lately I've been going through a big frittata phase--particularly veggie-heavy ones.* Shopping is a no-brainer; I just pick whatever looks good at the market, since I've always got eggs at home. They cook quickly enough that I don't mind turning on the stove. But when I'm really on top of things, I'll just make a huge one in the morning and have a wedge ready to eat, cold, when I get home at night. —Carey Jones

*These recipes are for winter, but swapping in more seasonal veggies is a snap.

Chilled Japanese Ramen
Chilled Japanese Ramen
Hiyashi chuka (chilled Japanese ramen) is the perfect cool-down dish for anyone who becomes as lethargic and lazy as me on hot summer days. All you need to do is boil some ramen, cook up a simple egg omelette, and then slice and dice whatever you want to throw on top. Traditionally it's served with tomatoes, cucumbers, egg, ham, and a sprinkling of red pickled ginger, but I've also had it with corn, carrots, pork, tuna, and crab (the real stuff, none of that fake imitation crab stick). If you're feeling inspired you can make your own sauce but I usually just use whatever comes with the noodles, either a soy or sesame-based dressing. Takes 10 minutes to make and tastes awesome. —Christine Tsai
Tomato Sandwich
Tomato Sandwich
Nothing makes the summer heat bearable like a tomato sandwich slathered in homemade mayonnaise. Like a pizza it has all the key components: bread, tomato, and fat. —Meredith Smith
Honey Bunches of Oats
Honey Bunches of Oats
My love for cereal knows no bounds....so this might be the hardest question ever, BUT if pressed, I would say Honey Bunches of Oats with icy cold skim. —Leandra Palermo