On The Table

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Refreshing Summer Meal Ideas for Hot Days

Too hot to cook? Beat the heat with these summer meal ideas for refreshing meals that will not heat up the kitchen.

Refreshing Summer Meal Ideas for Hot Days

When hot outside, the last thing needed is to make it hotter in the kitchen by cranking up the oven. Instead of turning to take-out or a lackluster meal, it is possible to make a satisfying, no-heat-required summer meal.

Beat the heat with these summer meal ideas for refreshing recipes that will not heat up the kitchen.

These helpful tips will help to make a delicious, balanced meal during hot summer months (or anytime of year) without turning on the oven. 

Use Other Kitchen Appliances

A lot of recipes call for heating up some or all of the recipe. However, this does not mean only use the oven. 

Other smaller kitchen appliances like toaster ovens, microwaves, Instant Pot/slow cooker or an air fryer can all heat ingredients without heating the whole kitchen. Using these appliances allows the freedom to make a variety of recipes without heating the whole kitchen.

Chill Out with a Refreshing Salad

A go-to summer meal idea can be a refreshing salad. Salads can be a filling but a light way to get a refreshing meal when it is hot out. Mason jar salads can be a versatile go-to for summer lunches, and add flavor and variety to any salad by making a homemade salad dressing

Add in whatever proteins, vegetables and whole grains that are on hand to make any summer salad recipe a filling, satisfying meal. 

Prep Ingredients Ahead of Time

Prepping ingredients ahead of time can help make a delicious summer meal throughout the week without turning on the oven or stove for every dinner meal. Make a batch of whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, etc. to have on hand to add to salads or use as a base for a grain bowl for an easy weeknight meal. 

One night use a slow cooker or grill to make chicken, beef, tofu or other desired protein. These leftovers can be used for tacos, salads, sandwiches, etc. throughout the week. 

If using the stovetop to meal prep for the week, try to prep at night or earlier in the morning when temps are naturally cooler.

These recipes are big on flavor but will not heat up the kitchen making them perfect for refreshing summer meals. Light, yet satisfying lunch and dinner ideas for hot days.

1. Asian Zoodle Salad

Asian zoodle salad is perfect for a summer meal when zucchinis are in season. This no-heat recipe uses spiralized zucchini for a base-paired with other sliced veggies in a delicious almond butter soy sauce dressing.

2. Spring Rolls

Spring rolls are a crowd-pleasing recipe and are surprisingly easy to make. Prep ingredients beforehand by slicing up desired veggies, making rice noodles, and any optional proteins like shrimp or tofu. 

Everyone can make their own rolls with their desired fillings. They are also easy to make as a big batch and keep on hand in the refrigerator for an easy no-heat snack or meal on the go. 

3. Shrimp Ceviche

Ceviche is a South American dish that uses raw seafood combined with lemon/lime juice or vinegar, which acts to "cook" the seafood. Shrimp ceviche can be made without using any heating method and can be a refreshing summer meal. 

If unsure about using raw shrimp, use cooked shrimp. This can be served by itself, as a base for tacos or with tortilla chips.

4. Thai Peanut Wraps

These Thai peanut wraps are a satisfying, colorful vegetarian meal. The edamame, peanuts and peanut sauce add plant-based protein to keep you feeling full.

5. Barley and Farro Salad

This barley and farro salad is an example of a no-heat summer meal that uses vegetables that are in season during summer months. Both the barley and farro can be cooked ahead of time to make this salad a quick, satisfying meal any night of the week. 

Use any leftover barley or farro for whole-grain bowls or in other salads throughout the week.

6. Japanese Seaweed Salad

If feeling "tide" down with traditional salad greens? Hook onto this seaweed salad! The salad can be enjoyed as a side dish or topped with a lean protein such as grilled shrimp. 

7. Summer Soups

Soups might be a cool-weather favorite but summer soups are a delicious way to beat the heat! Create fresh from scratch or use leftovers, including grilled chicken breast and favorite farmers' market veggies like green beans and summer squash.

Just because it's hot out does not mean cooking delicious meals cannot happen. There are ways to make a refreshing meal when it’s hot out by using smaller kitchen appliances to heat ingredients, prepping ingredients ahead of time and using a variety of salads for summer meals. 

Many no-heat recipes use in-season produce during the summer such as zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and fresh herbs.