Dinner Diva: Easy Summer No Cook Dinners

Dinner Diva
Easy Summer No Cook Dinners

The heat is on...summer is bearing down in all her glory. Being outside can be unbearable, even if you're crazy like me and enjoy creating a garden in this heat. If you feel more like a wilted lily than a perky petunia, it's time to hose down the kitchen and start assembling dinner, rather than cook it in the oven! Here are my Top Seven Cool Dinners, mostly made from utilizing leftovers-
1) Nicoise Salad. Drain a can of tuna and toss together with a half a head of chopped Romaine lettuce, hard-boiled egg (also chopped), a tomato cut up, olives (I like pitted Kalamatas, about 5, cut in half), previously cooked green beans (I use leftovers from the night before) and a good olive oil/balsamic vinaigrette dressing (make your own, 4:1). Great and satisfying salad!
2) Taco Salad. Take leftover taco meat, a can of black beans (drained), cut some leftover corn on the cob cut off of the cobs, lettuce, grated cheese, some olives, chopped cilantro, avocado, chopped tomato...and whatever else you like, all tossed together with the same above dressing. Put it all together in a bowl, tossed to mix, and serve it up, topping each plate with a handful of smashed tortilla chips. Yum!
3) Chinese Chicken Salad. Okay, we're using leftovers again! This time it is grilled chicken breast, cut into strips. Throw that into a bowl of lettuce (Romaine works great), with slivered almonds, a can of drained mandarin oranges, some chopped cilantro, Chinese noodles (you know you save those from Chinese take outs!) and toss together with a bottled Asian salad dressing...just look at your grocery store's selection, there's a bunch to choose from!
4) Shrimp Stirfry. Easy button...all you have to do is thaw some frozen pre-cooked shrimp. In a wok or large skillet, heat a little oil and saute some garlic and freshly grated ginger, add snow peas, shredded carrots, chopped bok choy, onion and then add your shrimp. Once it's cooked through, top with a little low sodium soy sauce and sesame oil and voila, stir fry fit for a king!
5) Pasta Primavera. Okay, go clean out your crisper. Chop up those veggies and start a pot of water for the pasta. In a large skillet, heat a little olive oil, add garlic, onion and whatever veggies you have there. Cook till crisp tender and set aside. When your pasta is drained, add the veggies on top of the pasta, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese-simple!
6) Muffuletta Sandwiches. Take a large loaf of Italian bread, hollow it out (take out its guts) and put some whipped cream cheese on either side (sometimes I will chop olives and add that to the cream cheese before spreading). Now add some lowfat deli meats, some chopped marinated artichoke hearts, some baby spinach or lettuce, tomatoes, basil leaves if you like or whatever combination suits your fancy, cut into pieces for everyone...boom, dinner's done!
7) Tomato Basil Pasta. I have a garden with tomatoes bursting at the seams and that amount, plus more in fresh basil. What to do? Make this mouth-watering dish-even if you don't have the overabundant garden, pick up the basil and tomatoes from a farmer's market and go make this delicious pasta-start a pot of water boiling for the pasta. Now in a skillet, add a little olive oil, a couple of cloves of garlic all nicely chopped up, a bunch of chopped up tomatoes, tons of fresh basil all chopped up, too...and cook the tomatoes and the basil together, for about 10 minutes or till nicely softened. Drain the pasta, top with this incredibly simple, yet delectable sauce, and add some freshly grated Parmesan. Are you salivating yet?
Dinner can be easy and you can keep your cool if you just keep that oven off! Enjoy!

For more dinner solutions, visit savingdinner.com Copyright 2008 Leanne Ely. Published with permission for this publication.