“I don’t feel like cooking” can hit hard in the summer, so my challenge to you is this: keep an eye out for recipes that are quick, easy, and delicious.
With so much fun to be had in the summer, there’s no need to waste time cooking elaborate dishes. Instead, stick to simple foods that taste amazing without a ton of effort. Try a 5-minute meal prep breakfast, smashed cucumbers with just 3 ingredients, and this 30-minute pasta meal that is incredibly low-effort with maximum flavor.
This pasta uses the skillet cooking method, aka “dump some raw pasta and liquid in a skillet and fingers crossed that it cooks.” The lemon pepper and parmesan combo is SO good, and a bowl of this on the porch with a glass of something cold is all you need for a quick break before getting right back to your summer fun.
Quick Skillet Lemon Pepper Pasta
Total Time: 25 Minutes Serves: 2-4
2 tablespoons butter
8 ounces whole wheat spaghetti
3 ½ cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 whole lemon
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated
Heat a large, lidded skillet to medium-high heat. Add one tablespoon of the butter and the noodles. Toss the noodles in the skillet for a minute or so to coat them in the butter and toast them slightly. Pour the stock into the skillet and reduce the heat to medium low.
Cover the skillet and let the noodles simmer for 15 minutes, stirring once during the cooking time. While the noodles are cooking, zest the lemon and cut it in half. After 15 minutes, remove the lid and toss the noodles again; taste for doneness. When the noodles are done (you may need more stock or some water depending on the brand of noodles you choose), add the rest of the butter, the juice of half the lemon, half the lemon zest, and the parmesan to the skillet.
Use tongs to toss everything together, tasting as you go and adding salt and pepper until the pasta is very flavorful. If the pasta is dry, splash in more stock or water to achieve a bit of sauce that evenly coats the noodles.
Serve topped with extra pepper, the rest of the lemon zest, and more parmesan if you'd like. Enjoy!
Butter: I prefer to cook with salted butter for extra flavor. If you aren’t using salted butter, expect to add some extra pinches of salt to the finished dish.
Pasta: This recipe is delicious with whole wheat spaghetti, but any other long pasta you like will work well. Pay attention to cook times on the package; thinner noodles will need a little less time, thicker options such as linguine may take a bit longer.
Cucumber Season: Time to use summer produce!
When it comes to eating seasonally, one common complaint is “I get so sick of ______ this time of year.” Fair enough: Eating seasonally sometimes means we end up with a lot of one thing all at once.
The silver lining, though, is that this can nudge us to come up with new and creative ways to use produce that we have a lot of. Right now, cucumbers are EVERYWHERE. Cukes are a fairly universally liked vegetable, but it still can get a little tiresome after weeks and weeks of always having plenty of them on hand.
If you’re feeling bored of cucumbers but don’t want to waste them, try some of these ideas for using them up!
· Sliced and served with ranch dip for dressing (duh!)
· Cubed and tossed with tomatoes and Greek dressing
· Bite-size pieces mixed into pasta salad
· Grated into tzatziki dip
· Thinly sliced and made into vinegar-based or mayo-based cucumber salads
See you at the Saturday market!
3-Ingredient Smashed Cucumbers
Prep: 20 minutes Serves: 2-4
4 small cucumbers, pickling or Persian style
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon sugar
1. Cut the cucumbers into bite-sized chunks.
2. Arrange the cucumbers in one layer on a cutting board, and place a baking sheet or skillet over top. Rock the baking sheet or skillet back and forth over the cucumbers, pressing down slightly, to smush the cucumbers a bit.
3. Transfer the smashed cukes to a colander set over a bowl. Sprinkle with salt and sugar and toss.
4. Let the cucumbers sit and drain for about 30 minutes until ready to eat. Taste, and add a bit more salt or sugar if you'd like.
5. Serve with everything.
Change up the flavor of these smashed cucumbers any way you’d like! A drizzle of sesame oil, a sprinkle of sliced green onions or fresh herbs, or a few drops of lemon juice or balsamic vinegar are all additions that are delicious with the base recipe.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Chia Pudding
5-minute breakfast, right this way!
Ok, not to put too fine a point on things, but we do agree that peanut butter cups are simply the best candy there is, right?
So why not take that flavor profile, have it for breakfast, and call it good? That’s exactly what we’re doing.
I was recently informed by my (ungrateful) spawn that “you always make the same breakfast for us and do you know how boring that is?” so naturally I turned to Candy for Breakfast as the answer.
Not really, but I do see the point that sometimes breakfast can get a little old, a little repetitive.
This chia pudding is a dream: it gets stirred up in 5 minutes, can be made dairy-free, has just a little sweetness from honey, is gluten-free, and SERIOUSLY tastes like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. I’ve served this for dessert with candy chopped on top, but for breakfast, it is just as delicious, just as satisfying, and decidedly non-boring.
Bonus points for: cold breakfast on hot days that is not cereal. Maybe a treat to make on vacation? I hope you love this one!
Chocolate Peanut Butter Chia Pudding
Prep: 5 minutes Serves: 4-6
2 cups milk (any kind)
¼ cup heavy cream (sub coconut cream for dairy-free)
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
½ cup creamy peanut butter
¼ cup honey
½ cup chia seeds
Peanut butter cups, optional, for topping and serving
In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, cream, cocoa powder, peanut butter, and honey until smooth and not lumpy. Taste, and add more honey if you'd like.
Stir in the chia seeds and cover the bowl. Let sit for at least 4 hours or overnight until the chia seeds have plumped. If the mixture seems thin, stir it to smooth it out and let it sit for another hour or so (if you aren't waiting overnight).
Serve the pudding, topped with peanut butter cups, if using. Enjoy!
Recipe notes + tips and tricks:
Milk and Cream: I love this with whole milk and heavy cream. For dairy-free, use a combo of any dairy free milk you like + coconut cream OR non-dairy yogurt in place of the heavy cream. For a lower fat version, fat-free milk and half-and-half work well.
Peanut Butter: Sub almond butter for peanut-free, or Sunbutter for nut-free.
This article originally appeared on Greenville News: Try these three easy summer recipes for when you don't feel like cooking