by Kristen Bagwell
I have to be honest: the last thing I want to do at the end of a hot summer day is cook. I also hate getting a lot of take-out food, partly because of the expense and partly because I just don't think it's the healthiest thing I can give my family. (In case you wondered, our takeout choices do not usually include a salad or anything served with fresh vegetables.)
With that said, I dug up a few "favorite" recipes that require little or no cooking, and wanted to share them with you today. Bon appetit!
Summer Tomato Pasta
**This is a good one to prep before you go to the pool and then finish off while everyone is getting changed. There is a tiny amount of cooking but mainly just mixing.** The recipe is adapted from the Barefoot Contessa, but you could also throw in broccoli or other fresh veggies to make it more of a primavera-style dish.
2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
½ cup Extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced very finely or made into a paste*
8 or so large basil leaves, julienned, plus extra for serving
Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
Kosher salt & pepper
1 serving dried long-cut pasta (spaghetti, angel hair, etc.)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Combine the tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, basil, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature. Ina says to let this sit for about 4 hours (but at least 2 ½). When you are ready to eat, cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain the pasta and add to the bowl with the cherry tomatoes. Grate the parmesan cheese over the top and toss. Garnish with basil and serve.
*To make your garlic into a paste, peel the cloves and use the side of a large knife to smash the garlic against your cutting board. Drag the knife across the cloves to help break them down, and sprinkle in a bit of coarse salt to help break down the garlic. Repeat the press/spread motion until the garlic becomes a paste - this way you won't get any big bites of garlic in your sauce.
**This recipe requires 2 hours in the fridge prior to serving, so plan accordingly.**
4 cups tomato juice
3 large ripe tomatoes (or 3 cups) peeled, seeded and chopped
1 cup peeled and diced cucumber
1 cup chopped bell pepper (actual recipe calls for green but I prefer orange or red, little sweeter)
½ cup chopped onion
¼ cup red-wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Dash of hot-pepper sauce, or more to taste
Chopped cilantro (optional)
Put ½ the tomato juice (2 cups) and half of the tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper and onion into a blender or food processor. Add vinegar, oil, garlic and hot-pepper sauce. Process or blend until almost smooth, then pour into a large bowl. Add the other 2 cups of juice and remaining vegetables to the bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
Serve with cilantro and if you want, a little bit of freshly grated parmesan cheese, or a tiny dollop of sour cream.
**You can substitute these ingredients for whatever you have lying around. Use either pitas or tortillas (or other wraps), sub in ranch instead of mayo and drop the feta cheese, use navy beans, chick peas or hummus instead of canellini beans...whatever you prefer.
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp lemon juice
Dash of garlic powder
1 cup canned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup chopped cooked chicken (I like the bagged grilled chicken strips but you could also use leftovers or cooled rotisserie chicken from the grocery.)
¼ to ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
¼ tsp. dried oregano leaves
½ cup chopped green pepper
1 cup chopped tomato
8 lettuce leaves
8 pita breads
In medium bowl, combine mayonnaise, lemon juice, garlic powder, and beans. Mix well, mashing beans slightly with fork. Stir in remaining ingredients except lettuce and bread/wrap. (If your bread or wrap is brittle, soften it by putting it in the microwave with a damn paper towel and cooking for 20-30 seconds on high.)
Lay lettuce leaves on your wrap, top with filling, and roll it up, folding the end if you're using a tortilla to keep the filling inside. These can be served right away or stored in the fridge for later in the day.
Other wrap combos we like:
- Deli turkey, provolone, hummus, sprouts, and cucumber (add a creamy salad dressing if you want)
- Club wrap: ham, turkey, provolone or swiss cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayo, mustard
- Slice and mix grape tomatoes, cucumbers, onion and feta in balsamic dressing and let it sit for about an hour. Spread lettuce over your wrap or pita, then add the tomato mixture. This is great with grilled chicken or steak.
- Leftover steak, red onion, tomato, lettuce, blue cheese dressing
(Can you tell that my husband is a "wrap" person?)
**These can be stuffed with almost any salad: potato salad, shrimp salad, etc. We chose crab because it's a fun beach recipe.
4-6 large tomatoes
1 Tbsp grated lemon rind
3 Tbsp + 3 more Tbsp fresh lemon juice, divided
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp honey
½ tsp Dijon mustard
¼ tsp salt
2-3 twists of freshly ground black pepper (or a pinch of ground black pepper)
1 cup fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)
¼ cup thinly sliced basil leaves
¼ cup chopped red bell pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
1 pound lump crabmeat, shell pieces removed
Slice bottom of tomato to create a flat surface so it stands by itself. Cut off the top of the tomato about ¼" down, then scoop out the center of the tomato with a large spoon. You'll be left with 4-6 tomato "bowls" - line up on serving plate and set aside.
Combine all the lemon zest plus 3 Tbsp juice and add the olive oil, honey, mustard, salt, and black pepper. Stir very well with a whisk in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix 3 Tbsp lemon juice, corn, basil, pepper, onion, and crab meat and toss gently to coat. Pour lemon zest/olive oil mixture over crab midture and combine. Stuff each tomato with about 1 cup of the finished crab salad and serve.
And if you're REALLY not in the mood to cook, there's always cereal!