By Wendy Ruopp, Managing Editor of EatingWell
When I stay up past my bedtime (ahem, fall asleep on the couch) it reminds me of being a kid and thinking, "When I grow up, I'll stay up as late as I want--and I'll eat ice cream for dinner!" Turns out being a grownup isn't all it's cracked up to be. But at least in summertime there are opportunities for the rules and restrictions that often bind us to loosen, and the EatingWell Test Kitchen is ready with easy, no-cook sandwiches and salads (if not ice cream) for some more-free-time suppers.
Don't Miss: Our Top 50 Recipes for Summer
One recipe I like to make for a cool supper on a hot night is our updated Waldorf salad--something I grew up on--now with chicken and more fruit (and less mayo) than Mom used to add. (See the recipe at the end.) You'll also find links for 4 more easy summer suppers: a wonderfully Continental composed salad that I wouldn't have eaten in my youth but now seems the epitome of adult taste with its beets and hard-boiled eggs and smoked tofu; a lemon-lashed crab roll that takes you right to vacation by the ocean; for northern-lake cottagers there's smoked trout for dinner on the dock; and there's a turkey wrap that everyone in the family will enjoy.
Composed Salad with Pickled Beets & Smoked Tofu
This composed salad is an artful arrangement of greens, hard-boiled egg, smoked tofu, beets and snap peas drizzled with a cool, creamy dill dressing. It's as pleasing to the eye as it is to the palate. We like smoked tofu, but any flavored baked tofu would work well in this recipe. Serve with iced tea.
This healthier take on a lobster roll uses crab because it's usually easier (and less expensive) to buy. But by all means use lobster if you prefer. Serve with coleslaw and an ice-cold beer.
Smoked Trout Spread
Creamy smoked trout spread on thin whole-grain crackers is a delicious appetizer, but serve it with an array of artfully arranged nibbles--ripe tomatoes, crunchy cucumber slices and red onion--and you have an easy summer dinner. Pack it up and take it outdoors for a weeknight picnic. Serve with a baby arugula salad tossed with olive oil, lemon juice, Parmesan cheese and a generous grinding of pepper.
Turkey, Corn & Sun-Dried Tomato Wraps
Fresh corn kernels, tomatoes and lettuce fill these hearty turkey wraps. This wrap is great for picnics or when you need to have dinner on the run. Add some crumbled feta or shredded Cheddar for another layer of flavor. Serve with carrot sticks, sliced bell pepper or other crunchy vegetables plus your favorite creamy dressing.
Chicken Waldorf Salad (pictured)
Leftover cooked chicken makes this chicken Waldorf salad, loaded with apples, grapes, celery and walnuts, a snap to assemble. If you use rotisserie chicken, keep in mind that it's salty and omit the salt in the dressing. Serve over watercress, with a chunk of whole-grain baguette.
Makes: 4 servings, about 1 1/2 cups each
Active time: 15 minutes | Total: 15 minutes
To make ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
Cost per serving: under $2.50
1/3 cup low-fat mayonnaise
1/3 cup nonfat or low-fat plain yogurt
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups chopped cooked chicken breast (see Tips)
1 medium red apple, diced
1 cup halved red or green grapes
1 cup sliced celery
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted if desired (see Tips), divided
Whisk mayonnaise, yogurt, lemon juice and salt in a large bowl. Add chicken, apple, grapes, celery and 1/4 cup walnuts. Stir to coat well. Serve topped with the remaining 1/4 cup walnuts.
Per serving: 356 calories; 16 g fat (2 g sat, 3 g mono); 78 mg cholesterol; 23 g carbohydrates; 1 g added sugars; 31 g protein; 3 g fiber; 408 mg sodium; 537 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Magnesium, Potassium & Vitamin C (15% daily value).
If you want cooked chicken in a hurry, the easiest way is to poach it. Place boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a skillet or saucepan. Add lightly salted water (or chicken broth) to cover and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer gently until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink in the middle, 10 to 15 minutes. (1 pound raw boneless, skinless chicken breasts = about 2 1/2 cups chopped or shredded cooked chicken).
To toast chopped, small or sliced nuts, cook in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes.
What do you like to have for dinner on nights it's too hot to cook?
By Wendy Ruopp
Wendy Ruopp has been the managing editor of EatingWell for most of her adult life. Although she writes about food for the Weeknights column of EatingWell Magazine, her husband does the cooking at home.
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