Food Friday: Easy Peasy No-Cook Meals


My personal summer philosophy, as Gentle Readers may have noticed over the years, is to avoid the menace lurking in the kitchen – the stove – as much as I can. I make exceptions for steaming ears of corn, quick-frying croutons for BLT chicken salad, and boiling pasta. In my fantasy life we would be dining out often, but the reality is not half that glamorous. We tend to be frugal homebodies, but that doesn’t mean that we are not eating well.

Last night we had a divine Caprese salad, that was rich and varied and quite unlike the cold, straight-out-of-the-fridge restaurant version that you often get served these days. I shopped local (our farmers’ market) for a couple of pretty and colorful heirloom tomatoes even though our garden is still producing a prodigious amount of fruit. It was nice to inject some color with the yellow tomatoes, and a little sweetness with some jewel-like cherry tomatoes. I snipped a couple of bunches of basil from the back porch basil farm, too. We had some leftover fresh slicing mozzarella from last Friday’s pizza, and small olive-sized pearl mozzarella. Mr. Friday likes olives more than I do, so I tossed a handful of deli Kalamata olives in his bowl. Then I enjoyed a grownup version of roasting marshmallows by roasting red, green and yellow peppers under the broiler for a few minutes. They sizzle and crackle and blacken. I suppose you can cheat and buy jarred peppers, but where is the fun? (And five minutes of broiler time will not seriously compromise your new summer philosophy.)

Easy Peasy Caprese
Suggested ingredients:
2 ripe bell peppers, 1 red and 1 yellow if possible, roasted
Salt and pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound fresh mozzarella, at room temperature
2 pounds ripe tomatoes
½ pound cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon capers
A scoop of good-quality olives
6 thin slices of prosciutto, more if desired (I skipped prosciutto in mine)
Handful of basil leaves

You can also add croutons, cucumber, or thin onion slices. Use your imagination, and what may be hiding, forgotten, in the vegetable bin. We want to avoid wasting food as much as we want to avoid another trip to the store.

We drizzled lots of fancy olive oil, too. Obviously two people will grind to a heart-stopping halt if they ate that much cheese every night, so eyeball the amounts you want to use, or what you have on hand. You can even make this as a side dish, and use salad dressing instead of just oil. We were trying to feel sophisticated and Tuscan. Be sure to add some good crusty bread and a glass or two of delightful wine. And candles. And then there is plenty of time to binge watch Season 2 of Derry Girls.

Here is a somewhat fancier recipe:
Ultimate Caprese Salad

More stay-at-home, no-cook summer favorites:

Gazpacho – so versatile – you can make it as soup, or as a cocktail!

Garden-Fresh Chef Salad – get out of the iceberg rut!

Cucumber, Yogurt, and Horseradish Soup

Here is a fiendishly easy way to rid yourself of excess zucchini!
Zucchini Carpaccio

This next recipe does involve turning the oven on to roast the nuts, but maybe you can assign that to someone else while you read the next chapter of Fleishman is in Trouble.

You should be enjoying the heck out of summer. Winter will be here soon enough. Indulge!

Nigella Lawson’s No-Bake Nutella Cheesecake

“In the summer, the days were long, stretching into each other. Out of school, everything was on pause and yet happening at the same time, this collection of weeks when anything was possible.”
– Sarah Dessen

About Jean Sanders


Letters to Editor

  1. Here is another perfect summer meal.
    This recipe came from a well known restaurant, The Buttery in Manchester, VT. It was located next to the famous Orvis Store and as a result the Buttery menu was geared to PGYs* from Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York. This is another culinary surprise, once we served it at home the soup became an all time family favorite. Whenever any of our children visit us, this is the meal that they want when they arrive. Here it is with a few changes of our own.
    *PGY This is a term – Pink, Green and Yellows that was used by a famous music critic with the New York Times, to describe the “country club” set who frequented the summer concerts at the Tanglewood Music Festival in Western Massachusetts. It referred to the current and fashionable golf and yacht club clothes dominated by the three colors, pink, green and yellow.
    In a 5 Cup Blender – add
    1 clove peeled garlic
    1 dash of onion salt
    1 tablespoon lemon juice
    1 tablespoon Maggi Seasoning
    Process in blender 5 seconds
    – Add
    2 tablespoons fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dry dill
    ½ cup sour cream
    2 English cucumbers, peeled, cored and chopped.
    Add the buttermilk to fill blender.
    Process until completely blended, Soup should somewhat chunky.
    Serve in bowls with tiny salad shrimp and garnish with chopped fresh dill.
    Our favorite way is to serve the soup plain, accompanied with large “peel and eat” shrimp, a tomato salad and crusty herbed French bread.

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