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Cooking during the summer can often feel like a daunting task. Especially during the hottest months of the year, most people prefer to stay cool rather than cooped up in an overheated kitchen. Rather than relying on takeout or microwave meals, a healthier alternative can be found in the traditional Mediterranean Diet. From Greek salads to vegetable and cheese mezze platters, the Mediterranean is filled with delicious dishes that are full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals—no oven necessary.

There is no better time than the summer to incorporate seasonal vegetables and fruits into your daily diet. Because summer produce is at the peak of freshness, many vegetables need only a gentle drizzle of olive oil and a handful of fresh herbs to come alive. A caprese salad, composed of juicy tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, and extra virgin olive oil, is a perfect example of a no-cook Mediterranean dish. Chilled tomato soups, such as the Spanish gazpacho or salmorejo, are also a great dish to whip up when you want to keep the kitchen cool.

Eating seasonally comes with many benefits: the foods you’ll eat are at their peak in terms of flavor and nutrition, and honoring the season’s bounty also helps support local communities and farmers who promote sustainable food production. In the Mediterranean Diet, especially for no-cook summer meals, seasonal vegetables should take center stage. Summer vegetables such as zucchini, squash, lettuce, and cucumber constitute a fundamental part of the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid. When coupled with the bounty of summer fruit, they form a perfect base for a refreshing, no-fuss summer meal.

The possibilities for no-cook but absolutely delicious summer meals are endless, especially if you stock your pantry with ready to go ingredients and fresh vegetables and fruit. Start your day with a bowl of Greek yogurt drizzled with honey, pile it high with field fresh berries, then garnish it with a handful of pistachios, almonds, or shredded basil. Move on to a gorgeous and nutritious lunch of crusty bread drizzled with olive oil, layered with some flaked tuna, and topped with a tossed mix of slivered radicchio, arugula, pecorino, squeezed lemon juice and olive oil. You can riff on this basic “Pan Bagnat” idea ad infinitum—substituting or layering on Mediterranean ingredients of all types from artichoke hearts, pepperoncini, shaved onions, anchovies, kalamata olives, sliced hard boiled eggs, chickpeas, raw haricots vert. The possibilities are endless!

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For dinner, try tossing seasonal vegetables into fresh greens for a refreshing summer meal. Salads are quick, easy to prepare, packed with nutrients, and requireminimal time in the kitchen—the essential summer meal! Use a leafy base such as arugula, kale, or spinach, top it with a variety of vegetables such as corn, peppers, cucumbers, carrots, and tomatoes, throw in some nuts and slivered apples or fresh peaches for an added crunch and sweetness, and you have a nutritious, refreshing summer salad. For something simple and light, throw together a kale salad with olive oil, lemon, fennel, pecorino and almonds. For something refreshing and traditionally Mediterranean, take advantage of the abundance of ripe summer tomatoes to make a tomato,cucumber, olive, and feta salad drizzled with olive oil and topped with basil or za’atar. For a delectable mid-day snack, rub some garlic on fresh bread with olive oil, top it with ripe, diced tomatoes, and sprinkle with salt and pepper for a traditional bruschetta. 

By stocking your pantry with nutritious grab and go Mediterranean ingredients and fresh from the market vegetables, herbs, and fruit, it will be easier than ever to create simple yet delicious no-cook summer meals. The bottom line is that summer’s bounty and a well-stocked Mediterranean pantry affords us all a rare opportunity to concoct culinary gems while cutting corners in the kitchen. It’s a win win—our souls are restored by the extra R&R while our bodies reap the benefit of fresh, wholesome meals!

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Claire Callahan
I always try to eat as fresh as possible and many salads. New ideas in making a salad are welcomed.

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