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My Top Five Summer Dinners

Summer is high on my list of incredible seasons - I have pieces I like about all the others - but summer has its own special foods and quality of foods. The tomatoes, watermelon, corn and fresh grown beans! I also find that I'm not always in the mood to cook - I don't want to spend time slaving over a hot stove or oven. I want dinner to be quick, easy and maybe even make some delicious leftovers for the next few days.

Here are my top 5 summer dinners this year so far:

Perfect Protein Salad (inspired by PCC Markets)

2 cups of cooked spelt berries or farro

2 (14-ounce) cans garbanzo beans, drained

1 English cucumber, diced

1 green bell pepper, seeds removed and diced

3 ribs celery, diced

1 carrot, peeled and diced

1/4 red onion, diced

1/2 bunch green onions, thinly sliced

1/3 bunch parsley, chopped

1/4 cup mayonnaise (or vegan mayonnaise)

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp dried dill

1 tsp salt

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp minced garlic

Mix the first 9 ingredients together. In a separate bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients and pour over the beans and veggies. Toss well. Enjoy!


Tomato, Feta and White Bean Salad 2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 small shallot, minced

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 (15-ounce) can white beans, drained and rinsed

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes (about 2 cups), halved

4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)

1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley leaves

2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves

Mix oil, vinegar, salt, shallot and pepper together in a small bowl. Add the rest of ingredients and mix well to combine.


Summer Veggie Sandwich

1 baguette or loaf of crusty bread

2 tbsp pesto

10 oz of antipasto vegetables (Trader Joe's brand works great!)

3 tbsp of olive tapenade or chopped olives

10 fresh basil leaves or chopped lettuce

Salt and Pepper, to taste

Slice loaf of crusty bread in half lengthwise. Spread pesto on top, layer antipasto vegetables, top with olive tapenade and basil leaves. Sprinkle with salt and pepper Slice into smaller sandwiches to serve.


Ginger Chicken and Cucumber Bowls

1 tbsp. canola oil

1 lb. ground chicken

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 small red chili (seeded if desired), finely chopped

Thumb sized nob of grated fresh ginger

2 tbsp. soy sauce

4 tbsp. fresh lime juice

1 tsp. brown sugar

1 English cucumber, thinly sliced

2 scallions, thinly sliced

1 c. fresh cilantro

1/2 c. fresh mint

1 c. brown rice, cooked

Add canola oil to a skillet and add ground chicken. Brown for about 5-7 minutes. Add the next three ingredients, save around 1/2 tbsp of the ground ginger. Cook for another 2 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove from heat and add 1 tbsp of soy sauce and 2 tbsp of lime juice. Mix to combine.

In a small bowl, whisk the remaining soy sauce, lime juice, ground ginger and add the brown sugar. Toss this dressing with the sliced cucumbers and scallions. Fold in the cilantro and mint. Serve over brown rice, top with the ground chicken and cucumber salad.


Shrimp Pasta with Kale

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 tsp chopped oregano

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

8 ounces medium shell whole wheat pasta

1 large bunch of curly kale, stems removed, torn into bite-sized pieces (about 10 cups)

1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled, deveined

2 shaved parmesan cheese

Strain canned tomatoes, reserving juice. Heat olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Add the strained tomatoes and garlic. Cooked until starting to carmelize, about 12 minutes. Add white wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to release the delicious brown bits. Add collected tomato juices, oregano, red pepper, and 1 1/2 tsp. salt and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

While this is cooking, start the pasta. Cook in a large pot of salted water, until al dente. This is usually about 3 minutes less than what the package says to cook the noodles until. Strain and reserve 1 cup of the pasta water.

Add kale to the tomato sauce, in batches. Stir after each addition, waiting until the kale is wilted to add the next batch. Add the pasta to the pot with the sauce. Mix and then add the shrimp, stirring until cooked through, adding pasta water as needed to make the sauce a looser consistency. Cook for about 3 minutes total (more if shrimp needs it). Top with parmesan cheese and enjoy! (Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit)


What am I missing that you have in your regular summer dinners? Send me the recipe!


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