You'll Want to Make These Six Easy, Adaptable Recipes on Repeat All Summer Long

Consider them your warm weather go-tos, a versatile capsule collection of recipes.

There's nothing like making homemade meals with the delicious bounty of summer. But when you've got picnics to plan and beaches to visit, thinking about cooking can feel like a drag. This is especially true if you have a packed schedule or tend to get overwhelmed by ideas. The solution? Create a summer capsule of simple, go-to recipes that can be customized all season long.

If you're unsure where to start, check out these six recipes, below. Each has a roster of ingredients that can be easily adapted and adjusted. What's more, these recipes can be used in multiple ways, making them practical additions to your summer menu.

Ma Belle Mere's Ratatouille


Featuring a tasty combo of summer produce, ratatouille is an iconic warm weather dish. It's also extremely forgiving, so it's easy to learn and customize. Once you've mastered the basic recipe, experiment with the sauce by adding heavy cream or liquid smoke. Want an extra dose of vegetables? Stir in baby spinach or shredded carrots. From there, enjoy your personalized ratatouille with pasta, baked eggs, or even in sandwiches.



Since basil thrives during the warmer months, you can't go wrong with a basic pesto recipe. It's a staple for myriad summer dishes, from pasta salads to vegetable-loaded pizzas. Moreover, pesto is easy to tweak. Simply swap out the pine nuts for other nuts (like almonds) or seeds (like sunflower seeds). Or use basil with other herbs—like parsley or cilantro—for a tasty variation. You can even combine the basil with other vegetables, like broccoli.

Quick BBQ Sauce
Amy Neunsinger

BBQ Sauce

A summer collection isn't complete without a simple BBQ sauce. For startersl, it's a triple threat; it works as a dip, spread, and marinade. You can also make new versions all season long by incorporating any herb or spice under the sun. Another option is to add a flavorful liquid, like coffee or pineapple juice, to the sauce. Just simmer the mixture until thick, and you have a brand new BBQ sauce.

Jason Varney


With a solid coleslaw recipe in your repertoire, you'll have no problem rounding out meals this summer. It's a classic partner for countless dishes, including burgers, barbecue, and grilled chicken. Coleslaw can also be used as a tasty topper for hot dogs and tacos. Start by learning a basic coleslaw recipe, then experiment with different spices and veggies. For example, make a kale slaw or add kimchi for a spicy kick. Craving some crunch? Toss in a handful of peanuts or apple chunks for a satisfying riff.

Spanish Gazpacho
Dana Gallagher


This summer, cool down by adding gazpacho to your rotation. Then, try replacing (or combining) the usual red tomato and cucumber with other produce, like yellow tomatoes or beets. Summer fruits like peach or watermelon also work as well. To add some heat, add jalapeño or hot sauce. Enjoy your gazpacho variations as appetizers, sides, or main meals by pairing with shrimp or grilled chicken.



A basic, reliable salsa recipe will be right at home in your summer capsule. After all, as a tomato-based condiment, it's perfect for making the most out of summer produce. The key is to learn the ingredient ratios of your ideal salsa. Once you've got those down pat, you can repeatedly adapt the recipe based on whatever you have on hand. Need some inspiration? Add leftover grilled corn or bulk it up with beans. For a tropical twist, add chopped fruits like mango or pineapple. Serve your customized salsa with tortilla chips for a no-cook snack or add a spoonful to herby quiche.

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