If your weather is anything like mine right now, it's hot. It's there's-no-way-I'm-turning-the-oven-on hot. At times like these, my thoughts turn to recipes that require only the bare minimum of cooking—and, moreover, are served cold. I don't want to slave and sweat over a meal these days; I want it to be so close to effortless that I can pretend I didn't make it at all, but instead had it served to me on a quiet little stretch of private beach. If you want a tasty dish that can be pulled together with the least possible heat, or if you just don't want to spend all your precious summer days cooking, let these 14 quick and refreshing recipes come to your rescue.
Spicy Tuna Salad With Young Ginger and Lemongrass
For such a quick no-cook dish, this spicy tuna salad brings a ton of flavor. Young ginger is ideal for this recipe, but it's also hard to find in the U.S., so regular ginger will work fine—just soak the matchsticks in water to mellow them out. Add lemongrass, chilies, lime juice, and fish sauce, and you can turn a blah can of tuna into something refreshing and exotic.
Classic New Orleans Muffuletta Sandwich
Just like the giant specimens you'll find in the French Quarter, this muffuletta is packed with salty meat, briny olive salad, and provolone cheese. Using a food processor makes it super easy to assemble, it requires zero cooking, and the flavor actually improves if the sandwich is left to sit for a while—so make it an hour ahead of time if possible.
Jicama and Pomelo Salad With Spicy Thai Dressing (Vegan)
Jicama, pomelo, and napa cabbage form the base of this sweet, sour, and spicy salad. Bean sprouts and peanuts add even more crunch, while shallots lend pungency and cilantro brightens up the whole mix. Top it with a Thai-style lime-based dressing, and your meal is ready in just 15 minutes.
Sichuan Shirataki Sesame Noodle Salad With Cucumber, Sichuan Peppercorn, Chili Oil, and Peanuts (Vegan)
A cold noodle salad makes a light but filling lunch, and shirataki noodles are the perfect choice to make it a quick one, too. They require no boiling and won't clump up, but pick up lots of flavor from a sauce of oil infused with Sichuan peppercorns and chilies, black vinegar, garlic, soy sauce, and peanuts. The only cooking required—such as it is—is heating the oil up on the stovetop.
The Best Egg Salad
Egg salad is fast and easy, sure, but it doesn't have to be just a humble convenience food. A simple but perfectly balanced egg salad can be a thing of beauty. For exceptional egg salad, steam-cook your eggs before roughly mashing them with fresh mayonnaise, lemon juice, celery, scallions, and parsley. No special ingredients—just bright flavors and textures.
Gazpacho is a satisfying no-cook meal that's perfect for summer. This one starts with a bread base (a great way to use up a stale loaf), plus ripe tomatoes and a mix of other raw vegetables. The chopped veggies are tossed with salt and left to drain, then popped in the blender with the soaked bread, olive oil, and vinegar.
DIY Instant Noodles With Vegetables and Miso-Sesame Broth
We're not above a packet of instant noodles now and again, but making your own with fresh vegetables, miso, ginger, and rice noodles is so easy and fun that the supermarket stuff hardly seems worth it. Make one big satisfying soup for dinner, or fill individual jars ahead of time to take to work: add boiling water, let it sit two minutes, and your adorable lunchtime portion of soup is ready.
Easy Make-Ahead Carrot and Chickpea Salad With Dill and Pumpkin Seeds
Chickpeas, carrots, and pumpkin seeds make this salad as protein-packed and healthy as it is cool and refreshing. Use leftover cooked chickpeas, or just rinse and drain canned ones. The seeds' nuttiness is drawn out with a quick "roasting" in the microwave, and a simple vinaigrette of garlic, olive oil, vinegar, and tons of chopped dill gives the salad more and more flavor as it sits.
Spicy Cabbage Salad With Fish Sauce Dressing
Since the green papaya typical of Thai salads can be hard to find in much of the U.S., this recipe replaces it with cabbage, green apple, and carrot. But the classic dressing of garlic, chili, lime, and fish sauce hits the same tart, crunchy, and sweet notes.
Spicy Salami Sandwich With Olive Tapenade and Goat Cheese
For a sandwich that's truly meal-worthy and super flavorful, make your own tapenade by pulsing black olives, garlic, capers, fresh parsley, red wine vinegar, and lemon juice in a food processor. Spread it on an herby focaccia roll and top with spicy salami, arugula, roasted red pepper, and goat cheese.
Cold Soba Noodles With Kale, Avocado, and Miso-Sesame Dressing
Asian noodles are a great way to bulk up a meal without adding much cooking time. In this case, soba noodles need just a few minutes of cooking before being served with wakame seaweed, kale, bean sprouts, and avocado. A sesame-miso dressing provides a light layer of extra flavor for this healthy dish.
Marinated Kale and Chickpea Salad With Sumac Onions
Marinating kale for an hour in olive oil and salt tenderizes the green while keeping it crispy—and, what's more, it'll remain that way for days afterwards. Make it into a simple but flavorful salad by adding chickpeas, red onion, sumac, and a light dressing.
Shrimp Salad With Butter Lettuce and Pumpernickel Bread
A shrimp salad flavored with dill, lemon, and Dijon is light and simple enough to evoke summer. It only involves a few minutes of cooking, and serving it on pumpernickel bread turns it into a meal.
Spicy Thai-Style Pomelo, Green Bean, and Zucchini Salad
Thai pomelo combines with fresh green beans, raw zucchini, shallots, and mint in an ultra-fresh salad. A Thai dressing featuring garlic and chilies adds hot, sour, bitter, and sweet notes all at once. In a pinch, you can replace the pomelo with grapefruit.
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