Easy breezy summer eats: What to cook when you don’t want to waste time cooking

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Summer is the best of time of year to cook and eat, by far, with its hissing grills, saltwater-seasoned beach picnics, stone fruit dripping with juice, vine vegetables brimming with flavor and pastel cones of melting ice cream. I love it.

In honor of the season, we’re unveiling the Summer 100, the New York Times Cooking recipes we think you should put on repeat for the next three months. We’ve selected our favorite salads and desserts, recipes for the grill and ones that don’t require cooking at all, and dinners, of course — like the shrimp scampi below. Enjoy these five recipes to start.

1. Summer Shrimp Scampi With Tomatoes and Corn

Summer shrimp scampi with tomatoes and corn. Start making Ali Slagle’s delicious recipe now and you’ll have it nailed come the point in summer when the produce is perfect. Food styled by Simon Andrews. (David Malosh/The New York Times)

Shrimp get along well with garlic, butter and lemon, and so do tomatoes and corn. Combine them, and you get a summery shrimp scampi that comes together in one skillet. A searing hot pan helps the tomatoes blister and the corn caramelize before they are coated in a garlic-lemon butter sauce. This is a meal in and of itself, but if you want to serve it with pasta or bread, they’d be welcome additions.

By Ali Slagle

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 15 minutes


1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (from 4 ears)
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon), plus wedges for serving (optional)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 5 pieces
3 tablespoons chopped parsley or chives, or torn basil leaves


Pat the shrimp very dry and season with salt and pepper. In a large (12-inch) skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high. Add the shrimp and cook until pink and lightly golden in spots, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the shrimp to a plate.
Add the tomatoes to the skillet, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring just once or twice, until they start to blister in spots, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the corn, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring just once or twice, until the tomatoes burst and the corn is golden in spots, 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the garlic and red-pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until you smell garlic, about 1 minute.
Reduce heat to medium, and add the wine and lemon juice, scraping any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until nearly evaporated, then add the butter and stir until melted. Add the shrimp and its juices and stir until warmed through. (If the sauce breaks and looks greasy, add 1 or 2 teaspoons of water and stir until emulsified.)
Remove from heat, add the herbs, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve with extra lemon for squeezing over, if you like.

2. One-Pot Chicken Meatballs With Greens

One-pot chicken meatballs with greens. Yasmin Fahr’s new recipe is already racking up five-star ratings and glowing comments. Food styled by Vivian Lui. (Johnny Miller/The New York Times)

An upside-down take on typical skillet meatballs, these juicy garlic-and-herb-filled ones are smothered in greens rather than being cooked on top or alongside them, an ingenious trick to streamline efforts for weeknight cooks. The meatballs first brown in the pot for color and flavor, then are covered with a mound of greens, which achieves two feats: It gently finishes cooking the meatballs while the chard and lemon slices steam and collapse on top, draping themselves over these hidden delights. Scoop them up with a soup ladle, spooning the lemony pan sauce over everything.

By Yasmin Fahr

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 40 minutes


1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/3 cup full-fat thick yogurt (preferably Greek or Icelandic)
2 garlic cloves, minced or grated
2 scallions, white and light green parts thinly sliced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 pound ground chicken
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more as needed
1 pound rainbow or Swiss chard (1 large or 2 small bunches), tender stalks sliced and leaves cut into 1-inch ribbons
1 lemon, halved, 1/2 thinly sliced
1 teaspoon ground cumin


In a large bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, yogurt, garlic, scallions, oregano, crushed red pepper and 1 teaspoon salt. Add the chicken and gently mix until fully combined.
Coat your palms in olive oil, then shape the meat into 14 medium meatballs (about 2 inches each), making sure each is lightly coated with oil by refreshing the coating on your hands. Set the meatballs directly on a sheet pan or on parchment paper.
Heat a 12-inch Dutch oven (or other heavy pot with a tightfitting lid) over medium heat for 2 minutes until hot. Pour in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, tilting the pot to coat the surface, then add the meatballs. Let cook until they are golden halfway up the sides, occasionally turning them when they easily release, adding extra oil if needed, about 7 minutes.
Meanwhile, to another large bowl, add the greens, lemon slices, cumin and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and season with salt; toss to coat the leaves, scrunching them up as needed.
Smother the meatballs with the greens and lemon slices. Cover, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until the meatballs are cooked through and the greens tender, 12 to 13 minutes.
Use a soup ladle to scoop up the meatballs, resting them on the greens, browned-side up and ladling any juices on top of the meatballs and greens. Cut the remaining lemon into wedges for serving, if desired.

3. Charred Bok Choy and Cannellini Bean Salad

Charred bok choy and cannellini bean salad. Hetty Lui McKinnon’s new salad recipe arrives with an excellent ginger-maple dressing you can turn to all season long. Food styled by Rebecca Jurkevich. (Linda Xiao/The New York Times)

This recipe breaks bok choy out of its steamed and stir-fried box, demonstrating how well it responds to charring. Don’t be afraid to cook bok choy aggressively; the stalks are robust and remain crisp while becoming smoky and sweet. Baby bok choy can be used too, but the leaves are much smaller and more tender, so simply slice them through the middle lengthwise. Other sturdy greens like gai lan (sometimes called Chinese broccoli) or cabbages will also work. The punchy dressing is sweet and acidic, given heat and spice from the grated ginger, while tart rice vinegar cuts through the richness of the maple syrup. Keep this dressing in mind for similar salads; it is equally lovely with cold soba.

By Hetty Lui McKinnon

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 25 minutes


For the ginger-maple dressing:

1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, finely grated
1 garlic clove, grated
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
4 teaspoons sesame oil
Salt and black pepper

For the salad:

2 pounds bok choy (about 2 large bunches), rinsed and patted dry
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed
1 big handful cilantro, chopped
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons toasted white sesame seeds


Make the dressing: Place the ginger, garlic, rice vinegar, maple syrup and sesame oil in a small bowl; whisk to combine. Season well with salt and pepper.
Prepare the bok choy: Trim the base of the bok choy and separate the white stalks from the green leaves. Slice the stalks into 1-inch pieces and roughly chop the leaves, keeping them separate from the stalks.
Heat a large (12-inch) skillet over medium-high for 2 minutes. Drizzle in about 1 tablespoon of oil, add the stalks, season well with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Leave to cook, undisturbed, until the bottoms of the stalks are charred, 2 to 3 minutes. Toss and then cook for another 3 to 4 minutes, tossing often, until the stalks are charred and crisp-tender. Transfer the bok choy from the pan and to a large serving bowl. Return the skillet to the heat.
Drizzle 1 tablespoon of oil into the skillet and add the bok choy leaves. Season with salt and pepper and cook, tossing often, until the leaves are charred and the water has cooked out, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the leaves from the pan and add to the stalks.
Add the cannellini beans to the bok choy and pour in the dressing. Add the cilantro and toss to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper. To serve, top with crushed red pepper and sesame seeds.

4. Pepper-Crusted Flank Steak

Coarse crushed black peppercorns coat this flank steak for a zesty burst of flavor, complementing the rare grilled meat. It’s best to crush your own, in a mortar and pestle or spice mill. Serve warm or at room temperature.

By David Tanis

Yield: 6 servings

Total time: 35 minutes, plus 1 hour’s marinating


1 flank steak, about 2 pounds
2 tablespoons kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal)
3 tablespoons coarse crushed black peppercorns


Pat steak dry. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon salt on each side.
Coat both sides of the steak with the crushed pepper, pressing down to coat evenly. Allow to rest and absorb seasoning for at least 1 hour.
Bring steak to room temperature. Grill over medium-hot coals or a covered gas grill at 450 degrees, about 4 to 5 minutes per side, until juices appear on the surface of the steak. Check with a meat thermometer; 125 degrees for rare, 130 for medium-rare. (Alternatively, cook in a cast-iron pan over medium-high heat or broil.) Let rest at least 10 minutes before slicing.)
With a sharp knife, slice on a slight bias against the grain, about 1/8-inch thick. Arrange on a serving platter. Serve warm or at room temperature.

5. Spanakorizo With Jammy Eggs

Spanakorizo with jammy eggs. Hetty Lui McKinnon’s take on Greek spinach rice includes a nontraditional egg – a sunny burst of yolk amid the green. Food styled by Cyd Raftus McDowell. (Christopher Testani/The New York Times)

Bright and soulful, spanakorizo is a beloved Greek dish, with a name that reflects its combination of two key ingredients: spinach and rice. This version is fairly traditional in its essence, relying upon rice, spinach, lemon and herbs, but includes some flourishes. Although the addition of the jammy egg is not traditional, it injects a sunny burst of color as well as added protein. For ease, this recipe calls for baby spinach (or chopped mature spinach), but frozen spinach can also be used (simply thaw it and squeeze out the water), or try a hardy green like chard or kale. A whole bunch of scallions delivers a richly aromatic base for the rice. Basmati is used here for its quick cooking time and light finish, but if you would like to use more traditional medium-grain rice, simply add an extra 1/2 cup of stock (2 cups total). As with any recipe, the timing is a guideline, but you should use your senses: Check your rice at the 15-minute mark, as some brands of rice will cook quicker than others.

By Hetty Lui McKinnon

Total time: 30 minutes


3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1 bunch scallions (6 to 9 stems), trimmed and thinly sliced
1 pound baby spinach (or 1 pound mature spinach, trimmed and roughly chopped)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
1 cup basmati rice
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
4 large eggs
1 lemon, juiced (3 to 4 tablespoons)
1 cup roughly chopped dill or parsley
1 (6-ounce) block Greek feta, crumbled (about 1 1/3 cups)


Heat a large, wide Dutch oven or deep skillet on medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and scallions and stir until fragrant and softened, 2 minutes. Add the spinach (depending upon the size of your pot, you may need to add it gradually, throwing in more as it cooks down), garlic and about 1 teaspoon salt; toss until wilted, about 2 minutes.
Stir in the rice, then pour in the stock. Bring to the boil and then cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the liquid has been absorbed and rice is cooked, 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of water to a boil over high. Add the eggs in their shells to the boiling water and continue to cook over medium-high for 7 minutes. (Make sure you set a timer.) Set up an ice bath. Using a spider ladle or slotted spoon, remove the eggs from the water and immediately add them to the ice bath. Cool for 3 to 4 minutes and then peel them.
When the rice is ready, turn off the heat. Uncover and add the lemon juice and half of the herbs and gently toss them through the rice. Taste to check seasonings, adding salt if needed.
Divide the spinach rice among bowls. Halve the eggs and place the halves on top of the rice; top each with feta and additional herbs. To finish, drizzle over some olive oil and season well with pepper.

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