Heat waves and hot weather call for refreshing, no-cook meals. For inspiration, head to the Mediterranean! Mediterranean summers are typically hot and dry, and thankfully, Mediterranean cooks have developed delicious recipes that don’t require an oven. From chilled soups, to salads, to grazing boards with dips and spreads, there’s a wealth of recipes from the region to get you through these sweltering summer days.
Bonus: most of these options are largely plant-based! These meals are good for you, and good for the planet. As we face the reality of a warming climate, it’s a good time to remember that Mediterranean meals are steeped in sustainability.
Start your day as the Greeks might, with a bowl of plain Greek yogurt and fresh fruit. Use whichever fruits are in season in your region—blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, peaches, plums, nectarines—or frozen fruit. A sprinkle of whole grain granola or nuts makes this meal an extra-satisfying start to the day!
If you’re a fan of toast, try this refreshing Spanish adaption. In Catalonia, the region of Spain that includes Barcelona, families traditionally serve pa amb tomaquet (palm to MAH kett) at breakfast. To make it, take a slice of toasted whole grain bread and rub with a clove of garlic and halves of ripe tomatoes, and then top it with extra virgin olive oil.
Calling all oatmeal lovers! Rather than standing over a pot of water to boil your oats, try this no-cook recipe for overnight oats. You can customize it with your favorite ﬂavors—for a Mediterranean twist, try a drizzle of tahini and some chopped ﬁgs!
When vegetables are in-season, sometimes all they need is a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of sea salt to taste heavenly! A few simple vegetable slices—tomatoes, cucumbers—tossed with fresh herbs and olive oil can be a delightful addition to a summer meal.
For something a little more complex, make this Salade Nicoise. The recipe originates from the city of Nice, on the French Riviera in Provence. It is a salad comprised of fresh produce and the ingredients of the region—tomatoes, black olives, garlic and anchovies. Green beans and tuna are often included in Salade Niçoise, as well.
In Italy, our favorite tour guide from Parma Alice Rossi suggests a salad with ingredients from her region of Emilia Romagna. To make it, toss Parmigiano Reggiano (aged 12 months) and Balsamic condiment with lettuce, cherry tomatoes, pine nuts, cantaloupe, extra virgin olive oil, salt, and basil. It is a very special salad!
Further south in Italy, on the island of Pantelleria (part of the region of Sicily), former International Olive Oil Council Executive Director Fausto Luchetti sent us a photo of his version of Pantescan salad, with his local tomatoes, arugula and purslane, an especially healthy green that is actually a weed. Purslane is a common weed found around the world, but even though it is a weed, it is not to be thrown out. Purslane is rich in vitamins and antioxidants (A, C and E, beta-carotene), and it’s even one of the few vegetables that’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
For chilled soups, we must look to Spain! Cold tomato soups, such as gazpacho and salmorejo, are great to whip up when you want to keep the kitchen cool. Not to mention, they really let the star of the season—tomatoes—shine!
Ajo Blanco is another delight from Spain. This cold soup is created from a puree of green grapes, nuts, cubes of bread, and olive oil. It’s nutty, creamy, ﬁlling, and comes together in a matter of minutes!
Meze, Snacks, and Dips
For a fun and no-fuss dinner, make your family a “grazing board” with delicious Mediterranean hors d’oeuvres. Inspired by the meze spreads, antipasti platters, and tapas found throughout the region, it’s an endlessly customizable option for dinner. Start with plenty of chopped, crisp crudité (such as carrots, celery, and cucumbers), and choose a dip (or two, or three!)
Round out the board with whole grain bread or crackers, and perhaps some small bites of traditionally-produced cheeses.
Fruit & Desserts
Celebrate summer fruit with these Mediterranean snack and dessert ideas!
Fragole all’aceto balsamico (strawberries with balsamic vinegar) is a classic Italian combination, and it’s nothing more than strawberries macerated with a bit of sugar and balsamic vinegar. Splurging for a good-quality balsamic vinegar (i.e., aceto balsamico tradizionale di Modena) is deﬁnitely warranted for this dish.
If you’re looking for a frozen fruit dessert to cool oﬀ with, granita is the perfect antidote. Granita, which hails from Sicily, features fresh fruit and water, blended and frozen until icy, ﬂaked with a fork and frozen again until ice crystals form. It’s the perfect treat for a warm summer day!
Although fruit are beautiful on their own, our Spanish friend Mar Luchetti created a spectacular ice bowl to serve fruit, for a sophisticated presentation. To do this, line a clear glass or plastic bowl with slices of fruit, leaves or ﬂowers. Place a smaller bowl on top of the fruit, leaves or ﬂowers, with a weight holding the smaller bowl down ﬁrmly. Pour water between the two bowls, until about halfway. Place the bowls in the freezer overnight. When you’re almost ready to serve fruit in the bowl, let the bowls thaw for about 15 minutes, until the two bowls separate. Flip over and remove the larger bowl, and then ﬂip it back onto a plate, and take the smaller bowl oﬀ. Place the fruit you are serving in the ice bowl and bring to the table! Check out our TikTok channel to see the process step-by-step.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert—there are plenty of no-cook Mediterranean recipes to help you beat the heat!
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