It's too Hot for the Oven: Cooking-Free Dinners

October 02, 2018 | Food Lion
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Your family still needs to eat no matter what the weather is, but hot days don't exactly make one feel motivated to get in front of the stove. So we've put together a collection of summer meal recipes that don't require the oven or the stove, yet are hardy and filling enough for your family to enjoy. The grill is employed for a couple, and a couple are completely free of any heat.

Just because it's hot out doesn't mean family meal time has to suffer, and these recipes prove it.

Ceviche Tacos

Marinating fish in citrus juice replaces the need to cook it; you just need to do it about half an hour ahead of time. Add a heap of ceviche and some toppings onto a corn tortilla and you've got a Mexican-style meal that didn't require any heat!

Ingredients (serves 4):


  • 2 cups white fish such as bass, sole, or flounder, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup red or yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons jalapeno, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup lemon and/or lime juice
  • 1 tbsp hot sauce
  • Optional: 1/2 cup fruit such as mango, diced


  • 2-3 corn tortillas per person
  • Lime wedges
  • Additional hot sauce
  • Shredded cabbage or lettuce


  1. Mix all ceviche ingredients together in a mixing bowl, then refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Stir well, then drain excess marinating liquid.

To assemble tacos:

  1. Scoop about 1/4 cup ceviche onto a corn tortilla.
  2. Top with hot sauce, cabbage or lettuce, and a squeeze of lime.

Cheesy Panzanella

Panzanella is a salad of soaked bread and tomatoes. Here it gets turned into a deconstructed Caprese sandwich by adding chunks of fresh mozzarella, moving it from a starter or side dish to a heavier one that is fitting as an entree.

Ingredients (serves 4 to 6):

  • 6 cups stale crusty bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 cups tomatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 cups mozzarella, fresh or semi-dry, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup cucumber, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves, sliced thinly
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp capers, drained
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp whole grain or Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper


  1. Grill bread cubes over low flame until dry and golden, about five minutes.
  2. Pour all ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir together until well-incorporated. Let sit for at least 30 minutes at room temperature before serving.

Steak & "Pasta"

Spiralized zucchini, also known as "zoodles," are a popular and trending replacement for wheat pasta. They're low in calories and carbohydrates, and rich in fiber and vitamin C. Simply grill steak and spiralize some zucchini for a dish that's big on vegetables and protein, but low on steam!

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 4 steaks for grilling; choose rib eye, New York, or your favorite cut
  • 6 cups zucchini, spiralized
  • 1 and 1/2 tsps salt, divided
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs: basil, dill, rosemary, parsley, cilantro, and/or any other you prefer


  1. In a colander, toss zoodles with 1 tsp salt; let drain, tossing occasionally, every 15 minutes for 45 minutes to an hour.
  2. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp salt on steaks and grill to desired level of doneness.
  3. Squeeze any excess liquid out of zoodles and toss with pepper and all but 1 tbsp fresh herbs; sprinkle remainder of fresh herb mix over steaks.

Mason Jar Southwest Chicken Salad

Salads in mason jars aren't just more interesting looking than ones in bowls, they're also incredibly portable. Take this main dish to the beach, a picnic, an evening concert, or even your own backyard. It's full of protein, fiber, and spice.

Dressing Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup neutral oil such as grapeseed
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp whole grain mustard


  1. Shake or whisk all ingredients together, then divide and pour into four 16-ounce mason jars.

Salad Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 4 cups rotisserie chicken breast
  • 1 cup bell peppers, diced
  • 1 cup canned pinto or black beans (rinsed)
  • 1 cup canned corn, (rinsed)
  • 1/4 cup scallions, sliced thinly


  1. On top of dressing in each mason jar, place 1 cup chicken, 1/4 cup bell pepper, 1/4 cup beans, 1/4 cup corn, and 1 tbsp scallions. These portions leave just enough space to shake the salad to distribute dressing once you're ready to eat.
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