On sweltering summer days, the last thing you want to do is turn on the oven! Instead, try a no-cook recipe. We promise you won’t be sacrificing flavor. Keeping a few key ingredients on hand can help you assemble a quick, delicious meal—no heat required.

Here are four ingredients that will get you halfway to a no-cook dinner.

Canned Beans 


Canned beans are affordable, filled with fiber and protein—and already cooked for you! There are plenty of ways to turn a can of beans into a meal or side dish without turning on your oven.  

In this Yucatan Bean and Pumpkin Seed dish, white beans are tossed with crunchy pumpkin seeds, and a squeeze of lime juice and fresh cilantro. Try serving this by itself as a bean salad, with whole grain crackers or bread, or over a bed of lettuce. 

Mint, scallions, and chives have a starring role in this Everything Green Chickpea Salad, named for its abundance of herbs. This lemony salad is best served cold, after a few hours in the refrigerator to allow the flavors to come together. 

California Avocado Hummus.jpg

Borrowing inspiration from Turkey, Greece, and the Mediterranean, try using canned beans to build a meze board for your dinner. Pair hummus or fava bean dip, made from canned beans and legumes, with whole grain bread, cheeses, vegetables, and other small dishes. For a twist on traditional hummus, try this creamy Avocado Hummus with carrot and celery sticks, or whole grain crackers. 

Bulgur and quick-cooking whole grains 

tabbouleh salad

The quickest-cooking whole grains only require a kettle of boiling water. On hot summer days, bulgur, a parboiled form of whole wheat kernels, is your friend. Whip up a quick tabbouleh with bulgur, tomato, and chopped herbs (though untraditional, a sprinkling of feta is delicious here, too!). Or, this bulgur and garbanzo salad can be served as a side dish, or in a whole wheat pita for an easy lunch. 

In this Insalata Mediterranea, inspired by the flavors of Sicily, whole wheat couscous kernels are soaked in a citrus-y dressing, expanding as they absorb it. The couscous kernels are tossed with chopped artichoke hearts, ribbons of fresh basil, and chickpeas for a vibrant and delicious side salad. 

Summer Produce —tomatoes, zucchini, and more!

When summer produce is at its peak, it often doesn’t need much added to taste delicious. This Zucchini Carpaccio, a lighter twist on the classic beef carpaccio from Italy, is made of thinly sliced zucchini, marinated in lemon juice and olive oil, and topped with shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano.


Tomatoes are delicious in a simple Caprese salad, layered with fresh mozzarella cheese, basil leaves, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Or, with a food processor or blender, try Salmorejo, a Spanish recipe beloved by members of the Oldways staff. Simply blend fresh tomatoes with olive oil, bread, garlic and sherry vinegar, and place it in the fridge. You’ll have a delicious chilled soup waiting for you! Traditionally, Salmorejo is topped with hard boiled eggs, pieces of ham, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. 

This South African Cucumber Sambal is a refreshing summer relish. It’s great on its own, on top of grilled fish, or as part of a sandwich. Sambals are spicy, chili-based sauces found in South African cuisine, but originating in Indonesia and Malaysia. Another cucumber dish—a classic Greek salad with feta and oregano—makes a perfect meal for warm-weather days.

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For a cold dessert, try a granita inspired by Italy. This watermelon granita, with just 4 ingredients, is sure to be a hit. For an extra-special presentation, try topping your bowl of granita with a fresh mint leaf.


Precooked shrimp is a lifesaver!

This shrimp and avocado salad is the perfect, chilled dinner for a hot day. Flavored with lime juice, the bright flavors pair well with a salad or vegetable side dish. Or, try adding pre-cooked shrimp to these Vietnamese spring rolls. A dipping sauce, like nuoc cham or peanut sauce, pairs beautifully with the fresh, crunchy flavors. 


Our 12 Ways to Use Shrimp resource is filled with great ideas. A perfect one for summer? Combine baby shrimp, equal parts Greek yogurt and mayonnaise, dill, pepper and salt, in a food processor and pulse just until mixed. Serve on whole grain crackers, pita bread or between bread as a filling for a sandwich.

Which no-cook meal will you be making next? For more inspiration, browse our recipe library and check out our Facebook group for fresh ideas.

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