Summer might be over, but that doesn't mean we're not still leaning on no-cook meals. Utilizing a wide variety of fresh and pantry ingredients, along with some store-bought shortcuts, these meals are the solution for an easier dinner party. Here are seven smart ideas.
1. Vegetable Noodles
For a truly fresh and playful meal, get out the spiralizer. Use a variety of veggies to create a dish bursting with different colors and textures. Once you have a platter full of veggie noodles, get playful with the dressing — that's the place to really customize and jazz things up.
Veggie Noodle Dinners
2. Poke Bowls
In addition to keeping the oven off, this marinated seafood salad is simple to throw together. The most important step is grocery shopping, since the ingredients are what make this no-cook meal shine. While the traditional version is made with ahi tuna, feel free to swap in salmon, scallops, or even octopus. Stick with the typical white rice, or serve these fresh bowl with vermicelli noodles or chopped greens.
Get a recipe: How To Make the Best Ahi Poke
3. Bruschetta Platter
Because cheese, meat, and a baguette are always a winning dinner. This takes the typical charcuterie plate one step further. Arrange a platter with crisped baguette slices, soft cheese (like ricotta, burrata, or whipped feta), slices of cured meat, and fresh fruit and veggies.
4. Panzanella + Rotisserie Chicken
Made with day-old bread cubes and a selection of the season's choice produce, panzanella is a rustic salad that will win you points for both flavor and presentation. Pick up a rotisserie chicken and shred the meat to give the salad a little more bulk.
5. Rice Noodle Bowls
The beauty of rice noodles is that they simply require hot water to be softened and ready to eat. Use dried flat rice noodles or ultra-thin vermicelli rice noodles to toss together no-cook noodle bowls for dinner. Grab a few cooked chicken breasts or some shrimp from the salad bar, and toss with sliced veggies and some sauce.
Noodle Bowl Dinner Inspiration
6. Summer Rolls
Ditch the silverware and make dinner a hands-on affair. Wrapped in a thin sheet of rice paper, these fresh rolls are filled with crunchy veggies, fragrant herbs, and chilled protein (typically shrimp, although I'm partial to tofu or chicken). Make prep easier by using chicken breast from the salad bar, shredded rotisserie chicken, or pre-cooked shrimp.
Summer Roll Recipes
6. Taco Bar (with Purchased Meat)
The bulk of the work in setting up this meal is slicing and dicing your favorite taco toppings. You can certainly whip up your own salsa or guac, but if you're pressed for time don't be shy about using store-bought. As for meaty fillings, like carnitas and shredded chicken, go ahead and pick those up from your local Mexican restaurant or BBQ joint.
7. Sandwiches for a Crowd
This isn't your typical sub sandwich; these sandwiches, big enough to feed a crowd, are made in a hollowed-out boule (or large round loaf of bread). One of these is enough to feed four people — all you need is a salad and a bag of your favorite chips to make it a low-key dinner.