No one wants to hang out in a hot kitchen in peak summer — and thankfully, you don’t really have to, since summer is the easiest season to make fast, delicious meals. We’ve got nine of them, right here; some don’t require any cooking at all. And those that do? Well, you don’t need to be in the kitchen as you’re bringing up water to a boil for pasta or eggs.
1. Watercress With Peaches and Blue Cheese
Roast a cup of pecans in a skillet over medium-high heat until they’re lightly browned and fragrant. Trim 2 bunches of watercress and put it in a bowl. Slice 3 ripe peaches and add them to the bowl. Salt and pepper the salad. Drizzle with ⅓ cup olive oil and 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar. Toss, add pecans, crumble 1 cup blue cheese atop. Toss again, adjust seasonings, and serve.
2. Tomato Salad With Strawberries, Feta, and Balsamic Vinegar
Core 5 or 6 medium ripe tomatoes then cut them into wedges and put them in a bowl. Hull 3 cups strawberries and halve or quarter them, then add them to the bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper to the bowl and toss. Crumble 1 cup feta over the top and serve. You can also swap out strawberries for watermelon.
3. Curried Tofu Salad With Pecans and Golden Raisins
Wash and trim a head of romaine, then put them on a platter. Take ½ cup mayonnaise, ½ cup plain Greek yogurt, 1 tablespoon curry powder, and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Stir until evenly colored.
Drain a brick of extra-firm tofu and crumble it into the bowl.
Core and chop 2 apples; trim and chop 3 celery stalks, trim, peel and chop a small red onion, and all of this to the bowl. Chop ½ cup cilantro and add it to the bowl. Chop ½ cup pecans and add it to the bowl. Finally, add ½ cup golden raisins to the bowl. Stir to combine, taste, and adjust seasoning.
Spoon the salad over the lettuce leaves and serve.
4. BLT Salad With Rosemary Vinaigrette
Put a large skillet over medium heat. Chop 8 slices of bacon into 1-inch pieces. Line a plate with paper towels. Add bacon to the skillet, stirring occasionally until crisp, 5 to 10 minutes.
When bacon is crisp, transfer it to the paper towels with a slotted spoon. Strip rosemary from 3 or 4 sprigs and chop. Put them in a large bowl. Add ½ cup mayonnaise and a sprinkle of salt and pepper to the bowl. Stir, adding a tablespoon or 2 of water, until smooth and slightly thinned.
Core 5 or 6 medium ripe tomatoes. Add them to the bowl. Clean and trim the lettuce; tear the leaves and transfer them to the bowl. Toss lettuce and tomatoes with the dressing and divide the salad among four plates or bowls.
Sprinkle the bacon on top and serve. You can even nix the mayo and season the tomatoes with olive oil, salt, and pepper if you’d like. Whatever route you go, you can also toast bread crumbs as a garnish.
5. Egg Salad Sandwiches With Lots of Vegetables
Turn the broiler to high and put the rack 6 inches from the heat. Fill a medium saucepan about two thirds with water and gently submerge 4 eggs. Bring to a boil, turn off the heat, and cover. Set a timer for 9 minutes.
Fill a large bowl with ice water. Peel a cucumber, cut in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds, and chop. Add them to a bowl. Core and chop 2 medium ripe tomatoes and add them to the bowl. Trim, peel, and chop a small red onion and add it to the bowl (If you want to neutralize the bite of the onion, soak it in water with a little red wine vinegar for 10 minutes.) Chop ¼ cup parsley and add it to the bowl.
Put 8 slices of bread on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil the bread, turning once, until lightly browned on both sides, 2 to 5 minutes total. (Alternately, you could fry bread in a skillet or toast it. ) Grate lemon zest into the bowl. When the eggs are done, transfer them to the ice bath. Leave submerged for at least one minute. Crack and peel the eggs, transfer to a cutting board, and chop. Add them to the bowl. Add ¼ cup olive oil, salt, and pepper to the bowl. Toss and taste, then adjust seasoning. Assemble 4 sandwiches and serve.
6. Scrambled Broccoli With Parmesan and Lemon
Put 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Break or chop 1 large head of broccoli into small florets. Add it to the skillet with ⅓ cup water. Partially cover and cook until the broccoli is just tender and the skillet is dry, 5 or 6 minutes.
Crack the 8 eggs in a medium bowl. Grate lemon zest into the bowl, then halve the lemon. Grate a cup of parmesan and add it to the bowl. Sprinkle the eggs with salt and lots of pepper and beat. When the broccoli is just tender and the pan is almost dry (add a little oil if you must) turn the heat to low and pour in the egg mixture.
Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally until the eggs are just set, just a few minutes. Grate a little more parmesan over the top and squeeze lemon juice over the top to taste. Taste then adjust seasoning and serve.
7. Tuna-Stuffed Tomato
Season olive-oil packed good canned tuna with capers, dill or parsley, salt, pepper, and lemon juice but no mayo — and stuff it into a tomato.
8. Pasta Pomodoro
Over medium heat, cook 5 or 6 chopped fresh tomatoes in butter or oil with garlic until tender, while 2 servings of pasta boil in salted water. When it’s almost al dente, add pasta to the pan with the tomatoes, turn down the heat, and gently stir. Add a little water if you’d like for the sauce to cling to the noodles. Serve with grated parmesan.
9. Littleneck Clams — Alone, With Bread, or Over Linguine
Put a few dozen washed littlenecks in a large, hot skillet with olive oil. Partially cover. When clams begin to open, add a tablespoon or 2 of chopped garlic. When most or all are opened, add parsley. Serve alone, with bread, or over linguine.
— Adapted from How to Cook Everything Fast