Seven Fresh Summer Dinners That Are Quick to Put Together

These meals will give you a vacation from too much time in the kitchen.

chilled avocado-cucumber soup with crostini ham and eggs
Photo: Con Poulos

Incredible meals can come together in minutes when fresh, colorful ingredients saturate the market. Blitz a chilled soup, grill a steak salad, or toss pasta with tomatoes that won't spend a second inside of a pot. With these effortless recipes, you can eat like you're on vacation every day.

Chilled Avocado-Cucumber Soup with Crostini

Rev up soup and sandwiches for a summer dinner with this silky smooth dairy-free creation. Blend, chill, then enjoy with a platter of jammy soft-boiled eggs, sliced ham, and crostini.

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crispy pressed italian sandwiches on ciabatta
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Easy Italian Pressed Sandwiches

Put this sandwich together in the morning and leave it to press under the weight of your trusty cast iron skillet. You'll be amazed at how pressing helps the flavors of olive tapenade, provolone, mozzarella, roasted peppers, marinated artichoke hearts, spicy salami, and baby arugula combine in this hearty dinner sandwich. A quick turn on grill will melt the cheese, then cut the sandwich into portions for serving.

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drunken mussels with chorizo and white beans topped with parsley leaves
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Drunken Mussels with Chorizo and White Beans

This Spanish-inflected rendition of steamed mussels will transport you to distant ports. Start by crisping up chorizo—just a bit provides an incredible smoky punch—then toss in some shallot, garlic, and white wine. Add cherry tomatoes for sweetness and beans for texture (they'll thicken the broth and absorb all the flavors, too), throw in the mollusks, and cover. Half a glass of vino later, you'll have dinner—and next to no cleanup.

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spaghetti and no-cook tomato-tuna sauce topped with basil leaves
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No-Cook Tomato-Tuna Sauce with Spaghetti

We're not claiming this is a no-cook meal, but rather that it keeps cooking to a minimum because the sauce doesn't require any heat. Put the sauce together and leave it to let the flavors mingle. Then cook the pasta when it's time to eat.

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baked fish with summer squash topped with sliced tomatoes
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Baked Fish with Summer Squash

Get fresh with the white fish fillets. Use cod or halibut for this baked fish dinner that's packed with summer flavor thanks to sliced zucchini, yellow summer squash, and tomatoes.

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chopped barbecue-chicken sandwich served with a pickle
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Barbecue Chicken Sandwich

To bring your favorite barbecue joint home, grill boneless, skinless chicken thighs, and in the last minutes of cooking, brush on a five-ingredient sauce (the base is ketchup, and pimentón supplies depth). Cut up the meat, and pile it on buns with a cabbage slaw mixed with celery seed, mayo, and vinegar. The result is sweet, salty, crunchy, and creamy—umami achieved.

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grilled skirt-steak salad topped with feta
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Grilled Skirt Steak Salad

Some dishes are so adjustable, they're more a concept than a recipe. Exhibit A: Our grilled-steak salad. The trick is to drizzle on a little vinaigrette when it comes off the heat, giving the meat a savory brightness. You'll grill corn and onion at the same time, because why not? You've already got the fire going, and the smokiness is delightful. Layer them with crunchy romaine, tomatoes, bell pepper, or anything else that beckons at the farm stand.

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Recipes and food styling by Shira Bocar; Prop styling by Suzie Meyers.

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