Don’t get me wrong; I love to cook, and as an avid baker, I love my oven. However, in the hot and humid summers, turning on my oven or being stuck beside the stove as the temperature climbs to what feels like volcanic heat inside my kitchen is not my favorite thing in the world. I already wrote this post detailing breakfast and lunch oven-free meals for hot summer days, so now it’s time to focus on the main meal: dinner.
Dinner Recipes without the Oven
Dinners are important meals because for most people it’s their main meal of the day. If you have a family, it’s also traditionally the time when your family comes together at the end of the day. You all sit around the table and share a meal and talk about the events of the day. It’s a social moment, and for busy people it’s often the only time to connect with loved ones. Dinner is important, and for many people, non-negotiable.
So let’s take a moment to run through a very obvious solution to avoid turning on the stove or the oven. If you’re a big slow cooker fan (like I am), you know that this is a great way to save yourself the heat and the hassle. Pop your meals in your slow cooker and then forget about them until dinner time. You then have a delicious one-pot meal that your slow cooker has worked hard to prepare during the day. Remember: your slow cooker isn’t just for the winter, so go ahead and crank that baby up for tasty oven-free meals.
I know I mentioned sandwiches earlier, but they also make great main meals; it just depends on the sandwich. For instance, these delicious Barbecue Portobello Mushroom Burgers with Grilled Onions and Pineapple is a vegetarian’s dream come true (and pretty damn amazing to eat even if you’re not a vegetarian). Barbecue season is unkind to vegetarians; people just use flat-as-a-disc frozen vegetarian burger patties that don’t taste of much. But this will have you saying ‘yes, please’ to seconds and thirds. Give it a go. And while you’re at it, don’t pass up this Sloppy Joe recipe that is also vegan! These Vegetarian Sloppy Joes with Lentils and Chickpeas are so hearty, so delicious, and so easy to make that they’re bound to become your new summer week night staple.
Platters of Veggies, Dips, and More
Another great idea for a recurring summer dinner is a veggie and dip platter. My best friend and her family love these platters for a delicious meal that’s incredibly easy to prepare, and even easier to eat. They lay out a selection of fresh veg, such as diced carrots, celery, peppers, lettuce etc., and complement with olives, crackers, and chips. They serve a selection of dips like hummus, yogurt-based or cheese-based dips, and so on. The sky’s the limit! Everyone sits around, helps themselves, and has a really healthy and delicious dinner. You could also try these fully loaded Vegetarian Lentil Nachos topped with avocados, cherry tomatoes, chili, and sour cream!
Pasta dishes are also great for summer nights because they are so easy to prepare and are ready in minutes. Why not try this flavorful Penne with Roasted Asparagus and Balsamic Butter? This Fettuccine with Lemon Ricotta and Zucchini goes from your kitchen to the table in no time at all, which makes it another perfect summer recipe. Not to mention it is absolutely loaded with all of the good things. Or you could try this Tortellini with Mustard Cream Sauce, which is an easy and flavorsome twist on a classic (I use vegetable broth in mine). Of course, you could also just as easily opt for these spicy and delicious Sesame Almond Butter Noodles. Who needs take out when you could make this?
It’s not difficult to find a million (okay, maybe not a million, but lots) oven-free recipes out there if you’re looking to cut down or completely cut out your oven and stove time this summer. Use existing recipes as springboards to spur your own imagination and make meal planning and preparation fun, even in the summer. For example, how about making a Grilled Veggie Pizza on a Flatbread? Or maybe a BBQ Chickpea Bowl with Avocado Cream is more your thing? Or how about the 31 options outlined here?
See what I mean?
Awanthi Vardaraj lives and writes in the port city of Chennai, in the south of India, where she runs her own small artisanal bakery and keeps a garden full of jasmine plants and herbs that she still cannot name. As a freelance writer, she mostly focuses on food, feminism, travel, mental health, and poverty. She also nurtures a deep love for the Oxford comma and the semicolon. Visit her website at www.awanthi.com and follow her on Twitter at AwanthiVardaraj.
Which of these easy oven-free meals will you make? Share your summer recipes below or on Facebook and Twitter.