Five Easy Summertime Dinner Ideas

July 4, 2008 at 10:42 pm 1 comment

When warm weather finally arrives, slaving away in the kitchen may lose its appeal. I don’t know many people who enjoy cooking over a hot stove when the temperature starts climbing, but I do know that most people still want to eat well. The good news is, you don’t have to give-in to the temptation to eat greasy take-out burgers or cold soggy sandwiches just because you don’t want to spend time in a hot kitchen.

Here are five ideas for easy and affordable weeknight meals you can make without breaking a sweat.

Soft Tacos
Brown a pound of ground beef (hamburger) in a skillet until done. Drain off the grease; season with salt and a teaspoon or so of chili powder. Pile the meat into taco shells or soft tortillas along with chopped tomato, canned chili beans, grated cheddar cheese (or colby, or pepperjack) onion, and other garnishes of your choosing (sour cream, guacamole, salsa, cilantro, etc.). This is great for a family with a lot of different preferences because everyone can make their tacos just the way they like them!

Stuffed Tomatoes
Mix canned tuna (packed in oil and drained) with dried dill or parsley, a teaspoon of lemon juice, a tablespoon of finely minced onion, and salt and pepper to taste. Core two large tomatoes; stuff tuna salad into tomatoes.

Herbed Pasta
Cook angel hair pasta according to package directions. Chop ½ cup of basil or oregano (or a mixture of both) and toss into a small saute pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Toss the herbs with the pasta, diluting with a tablespoon or two of the pasta water if needed. Optional: top with a few tablespoons of parmesan cheese. Another option for a heartier meal: If you have leftover cooked chicken, toss in ½ or ¾ cup. Add a green salad and you’ve got a quick, complete meal.

CLT Sandwiches
Dredge thin chicken breasts in flour or cornmeal, whichever you prefer or have on hand. Cook the chicken for about two minutes per side over high head in hot olive oil. Place on bread or a bun with lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise.

Mushroom “Burgers”
Saute two large portobello mushroom caps in 1 tablespoon olive oil until tender. Season with black pepper, and thyme or oregano (dried if you have it; fresh if possible). Melt a slice of cheese (provolone ad swiss work well here) over the mushrooms, if you prefer a cheeseburger. Place caps on hamburger bun and season with steak sauce.

If you plan ahead and have the ingredients you need on hand, each of these ideas can be prepared in less than 30 minutes, so you still have plenty of time to get out and enjoy the beautiful summer evenings.


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Kitchen Glossary for Beginners: Techniques 3 Fast and Easy Ideas for Weeknight Dinners

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Judy Ferril  |  July 5, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    Hi Mary,
    I love these ideas. Pretty soon, it will be our hot and humid days of August and these recipes will come in handy.

    We love tomatoes and with our supply from CSA, the stuffed tomatoes are a must try.

    Looking forward to your next post.
    Take care,

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