Summer nights mean longer light, enticing warm weather, and fun outdoor activities. To maximize the time that we can enjoy these slow evenings, we have had a few favorite summer dishes that have rotated through our menus regularly.
Having a few go-to recipes that we like makes it easier to meal plan and grocery shop, and quicker to make dinner, since we are already familiar with the recipe steps. Even when we go out of town for a weekend and don’t have time to meal plan or make a grocery list for the week, having some go-to recipes on hand means that we know which ingredients to pick up and we know they won’t go to waste. This has been one of the best things in a busy season and has really decreased the stress and time spent meal planning throughout the summer. Below are a few of our favorite summer meals and dishes. We’re always looking for more go-to recipes, so if you have any summer favorites, I’d love to hear them!
30 Minute Cajun Salmon. This has become a staple in our house and our go-to whenever we have fish on hand. We make extra seasoning mix and put it on multiple dinners throughout the week. Sometimes we make the seasoning even if we don’t have fish because it is so versatile. It is so quick and so easy!
Cauliflower Rice Burrito Bowls. We make these a few times a month and change up the toppings, depending on what is fresh or in-season and reasonably priced and what leftovers we have from other nights that we can add. We try to use the same ingredients in multiple recipes throughout the week so we can prep that ingredient one night and have the rest ready to use for later in the week. We love adding the spice mixture from the cajun salmon above to our bowls to give them some extra flavor! Don’t forget the avocado and lime!
Garden Lettuce Salad with Corn, Avocado, and Cherry Tomatoes. We had our first successful garden harvest this year with a few heads of lettuce. We tried to use them in as many dinners as we could so they wouldn’t grow out of control. It was so exciting be able to walk out of the back door and pick a bed of greens for our dinner that night. Those were proud dinners :) There are so many fresh vegetables at the grocery store, farmers’ market, and in friends’ gardens and we have loved adding fresh cherry tomatoes (courtesy of my generous coworkers) and fresh corn cut right off the cob. Throw in a some avocado and even add some peach slices and toasted nuts and you have a plate full of summer!
Zucchini Noodles with Cherry Tomatoes and Homemade Tomato Sauce (similar to this). We make a sauce similar to this one, but add sauteed onions, dried oregano, and dried thyme. If our little basil plants are doing well, we’ll add a few fresh basil leaves as well. Sometimes we make chicken or turkey meatballs from the Seriously Delish cookbook or meatless meatballs from the Molly on the Range cookbook.
Grilled Zucchini. Grilled zucchini has become one of our favorite side dishes this summer. It is easy and can be left to cook on the grill while the rest of the meal is cooking inside, or next to it on the rest of the grill. We sometimes make up our own spice mixture to coat olive oil covered zucchini strips or slices, but usually it is pretty similar to the zucchini in this recipe. These pair well with any main dish item, like the quick salmon above.
If we don’t know what else to make with the ingredients we have on hand, we often look to the Love and Lemons cookbook, which lists the chapters by ingredient instead of by dish type. This helps us focus on making a great dish and reducing the amount of vegetables that we waste by leaving them to sit in the fridge. If you don’t have the cookbook you can also search their recipe index by ingredient as well.
Photo of grilled peach salad with sugar snap peas, candied pecans, herbed goat cheese and fig balsamic from Waiting on Martha.