Our best fast and fresh healthy no-cook entrées for the hottest days in summer.
July 22, 2010
1 of 14Illustration: QuickHoney
With the mercury rising, the last thing you want to do is come home to a hot kitchen. Enter in the no-cook miracle meal. We’re not talking about peeling off the plastic and waiting for the microwave to beep. These are homemade, fresh meals you can make without cranking up the oven or cooktop, and all can be ready in 30 minutes or less.
All start with smart supermarket choices—precooked eggs, canned or jarred tuna, rotisserie chickens, and steamed lump crabmeat. All these meals are also ideal for people who live in dorm rooms or other small spaces without full kitchens.
2 of 14Photo: John Autry
Prosciutto, Peach, and Sweet Lettuce Salad
Serve this light main-course salad with a hunk of crusty baguette and a glass of chilled Riesling, which will stand up to the sweetness of peaches and honey. Choose ripe, juicy peaches, and leave the peel on for more texture. Ricotta salata is a milky, mild, slightly salty cheese that's easy to crumble; you can substitute feta or goat cheese. The crowing glory: a sprinkling of cooling, fresh mint leaves. Salty-sweet-crunchy-creamy: all rolled into one glorious salad.
Creamy beans, sweet tomatoes, earthy basil, and homemade vinaigrette elevate chicken salad to new heights. Cannellini beans, or white kidney beans, are smaller than Great Northern beans and add just the right texture. Great for picnics or lazy-day suppers, this salad stirs together in a flash.
Rotisserie chicken is your best friend when it comes to no-cook fare. Here are some tips for getting the most of the pre-cooked time-saver: 1) Pick up a rotisserie at the end of your shopped trip so it stays hot until you get home. 2) Serve or refrigerate within two hours. 3) Cut, shred, or chop chicken, and store it, uncovered, in a shallow container in the refrigerator to help it cool quickly. Cover the container when the chicken has cooled. 4) An average 2-pound rotisserie chicken yields 3 to 3½ cups of meat.
Simple orange-infused crabmeat floats atop a rich, creamy soup. You’ll need a blender to make the soup; if it seems a little too thick, add 1 to 2 tablespoons more buttermilk.
One online reviewer raved: “Silky, luscious, and decadent! I made it for guests and we ate every drop. I used one seeded serrano pepper, and wouldn't have minded a little more spice. We had it for an appetizer before some grilled shrimp salad—rave reviews!”
These wrap sandwiches take just a few minutes to assemble and make a quick lunch or take-along supper. Serve with rice crackers and sautéed zucchini for a complete meal.
They are an online hit. One reviewer said: “These were not only easy to put together, but delicious. I was looking for something quick after a long, hot day, and these really hit the spot. I served the rolls bias-sliced with oranges and extra mint to garnish, and it was a pretty dish. Even the eye appeal garnered an "ooooh" from my 2-year-old who devoured hers without leaving a crumb. She said, ‘You're a good cooker mommy!’ The beauty of it is that I didn't have to cook a thing.” We agree…a no-cook, kid-friendly recipe is a beautiful thing!
The bold flavors of red onion, piquant capers and kalamata olives, and peppery arugula elevate hum-drum tuna salad to new heights. If your budget allows, try a premium jarred tuna, like Ortiz, which is rich, firm, and meaty. And purchase precooked, peeled eggs from your supermarket. You can also substitute arugula with baby spinach.
Chilled soups are some of the best no-cook recipes and make ideal hot-weather fare. It only takes tossing the ingredients together in a bowl to transform lush fruits and vegetables into this flavorful and easy soup, perfect as an appetizer or light supper. Here, the mangoes, melons, and nectarines give this gazpacho a sweet spin. If you like a soup with more zip, don’t seed the jalapeño.
The secret here is taking rotisserie (or any pre-cooked chicken) and tossing with smoked paprika, giving the chicken rich, grill-like flavor—with no cooking. Mash up a homemade guac and stir together the salsa, and you’ve got a truly fresh meal with no cook time. Add in a few of the jalapeño seeds for extra heat.
Look for tostada shells (fried, flat corn tortillas) near the flour and corn tortillas or in the Mexican food section of your grocery store. Serve with lime wedges and an extra sprinkling of chopped cilantro for even more fresh flavor.
Flatbread replaces buttered rolls in this take on the New England classic. You can purchase cooked lobster tails at your grocery’s seafood counter.
Making a homemade sandwich spread is an easy way to add a punch of flavor without turning on the heat. You can quickly turn low-fat or light mayonnaise into a gourmet spread by stirring in herbs, citrus juices, and freshly ground black pepper. Vary the herbs according to your taste preferences. Fresh chives and lemon add flavor to this recipe, while fresh tarragon and rosemary would complement a chicken sandwich and fresh dill would work nicely with fish.
Crab, Corn, and Tomato Salad with Lemon-Basil Dressing
You can pick up lump crabmeat from your grocery’s seafood counter. It’s an easy no-cook addition to salads, sandwiches, dips, and soups. Here, the tart dressing contrasts with the sweet corn, tomatoes, and crab.
Use vine-ripened tomatoes, fresh summer corn, and other offerings from your garden (or the local farmers’ market) for a go-to seasonal dish you’ll lean on year after year.
This 5-star recipe, a favorite of our online reviewers, is a classic no-cook, weeknight meal. The creamy dressing mellows the heat from the chiles—and best of all, it can be prepared in less than 30 minutes.
Pair with a quick no-cook watermelon-mango salad: Combine 2 cups cubed, seeded watermelon and 1 cup sliced, peeled mango in a medium bowl. Combine 1-1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 2 teaspoons honey, and a pinch of salt, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle juice mixture over fruit; toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon chopped mint. Serve with a crunchy baked tortilla chips, and dinner is served.
This no-cook dinner recipe is packed with colorful vegetables and gets a flavor kick from its zesty vinaigrette. You can easily make it a vegetarian meal by adding 1-1/2 cans of beans and replacing the tuna with a fistful of kalamata olives.
When going the no-cook route, adding flavor-packed ingredients really contribute to the success of the dish. That’s why we like shaving the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese instead of grating for a salty, nutty punch.
In less than 20 minutes, you can really make this hearty, flavor-packed noodle dish without turning on your cooktop. How do we do it? We call for cellophane noodles, which require nothing more than a soak in screaming-hot water from your tap.
The salad is moderately spicy; reduce the chile paste by 1 teaspoon or omit for a milder dish. A sprinkling of dry-roasted peanuts make a crunchy, satisfying topping.
Shrimp and White Bean Salad with Creamy Lemon-Dill Dressing
This tasty salad is perfect for evenings when you're looking for a light meal that can be made quickly. It takes just over 30 minutes to make from scratch, or you can prep many of the ingredients in advance. Look for precooked, peeled and deveined shrimp at the seafood counter, or purchase it frozen and keep on hand for quick toss-together meals.
For a flavor variation, try arugula and basil in place of watercress and dill. You can also substitute chopped rotisserie chicken for shrimp.