More easy summer recipes for right now

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More fun, less drudgery. That’s my goal for the summer — and specifically for my summer cooking. In my dreams, I’m whisking together a vinaigrette in a seaside cottage with a big breezy kitchen and a farm stand down the road (think Diane Keaton’s place in “Something’s Gotta Give”). While that’s not the reality for most of us — myself included — you can still welcome that relaxed sensibility in the recipes you cook and how you cook them (barefoot, good music playing, windows thrown open — or the air conditioning on full blast).

We’ve rounded up some of our most delightful summer salads, desserts, easy dinners, grilling and no-cook recipes that will excite, not exhaust, you. The vast majority — with the exception of the desserts, which take about an hour — can be made in 30 minutes or less. (No kidding!) Quite a few travel well and taste great at practically any temperature, making them perfect for picnics. But since summer can look a lot like the rest of the year, with more sweat and sunblock, all are the kinds of dishes you can throw together on a busy weeknight when the kids are worn out from day camp and the traffic was hellish.

Grilled Harissa Shrimp

Harissa paste is a spicy North African condiment that is typically made from some combination of red chiles or peppers, garlic and a slew of fragrant spices, often including coriander and cumin. Here the paste is used alongside a bit of honey and lemon as a quick marinade for grilled shrimp. Prepared harissa varies quite a bit from brand to brand in its heat level, but this dish is meant to be punchy and spicy. Serve the grilled shrimp with rice or flatbread, or on top of a crunchy salad, and you’ll have an easy dinner sorted. Make sure that your grilling area is very well ventilated, as the paste will get quite smoky once it hits the hot grates.

By Yossy Arefi

Yield: 3 to 4 servings

Total time: 15 minutes


1/4 cup harissa paste

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus lemon wedges for serving

1 tablespoon olive oil

Kosher salt

1 pound large peeled and deveined shrimp

Bamboo skewers

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes (optional)


1. In a large bowl, combine the harissa, honey, lemon juice, olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Add the shrimp and toss to coat. Let the shrimp marinate while you heat the grill (or grill pan) to medium-high. (If grilling indoors, you may want to open windows and make sure your space is very well ventilated, as the grilled shrimp might get quite smoky.)

2. Thread the shrimp on bamboo skewers while making sure to poke the skewer through the thick end and the tail. Alternate with tomatoes, if using.

3. Grill the shrimp until lightly charred and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Serve the shrimp with lemon wedges for squeezing over the top.

Tajín Grilled Chicken

Tajín is a Mexican seasoning made from dried, ground red chiles, sea salt and dehydrated lime juice. It is great sprinkled over fresh cut fruit like mango and pineapple or rimmed on an ice cold margarita. But it is also an easy way to add chile and lime to your favorite grilled meats, rubs or sauces. In this dish, the lime in the Tajín balances out the sweetness from the agave syrup, while the red chiles complement the smoky flavor of the chipotles. Serve the chicken as is or on toasted hamburger buns with a schmear of mayonnaise, chopped grilled scallions, cilantro leaves and sliced pickled jalapeños. This Tajín sauce also would pair well with grilled bass, cod or salmon, or with shrimp skewers.

By Rick A. Martinez

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 35 minutes


Vegetable oil, for the grill

8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 2 pounds)

Sea salt (or kosher salt)

1/2 cup light agave syrup or honey

1/2 cup fresh orange juice

1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

3 chipotle chiles in adobo, finely chopped, plus 1/4 cup adobo sauce

6 garlic cloves, finely grated

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon Tajín Clásico

8 scallions, root ends trimmed

1/2 cup cilantro leaves and tender stems


1. Prepare a grill for medium-high, direct heat; clean the grates well, then brush them with vegetable oil. Alternatively, heat a grill pan on medium-high and brush the pan with oil.

2. Arrange the chicken on a sheet tray and generously season both sides with salt. Whisk together the agave syrup, orange juice, orange zest, chipotles, adobo, garlic, olive oil and Tajín in a medium bowl.

3. Brush both sides of the chicken with the Tajín sauce. Grill the chicken, turning and basting often with the Tajín sauce, until cooked through, charred but brick red and glazed, 7 to 9 minutes. Grill the scallions, turning occasionally, until lightly charred on all sides, about 5 minutes.

4. Serve the chicken with the grilled scallions, topped with cilantro.

Crispy Cheddar Chicken Tacos

These quick tacos use leftover or store-bought rotisserie chicken, and have a satisfying crispy cheddar frico called a costra (crust) that is common both in taquerias in the northern half of Mexico and in the southwestern United States. In some taquerias, you can order a taco using only the costra as the shell without a tortilla. In this recipe, the tortilla and costra are layered together to wrap a simple but delicious shredded chicken and chipotle filling.

By Rick A. Martínez

Yield: 8 tacos

Total time: 35 minutes


1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced (lengthwise, from root to stem end)

1 cup hot water (tap water is fine)


1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

2 cups shredded, cooked chicken, warmed

2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped, plus 2 tablespoons adobo sauce

6 ounces medium cheddar, Monterey Jack or queso Chihuahua, grated

8 (6-inch) corn tortillas

Sliced avocado, salsa and lime wedges, for serving


1. Set an oven rack in the middle position; heat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. In a medium bowl, stir the onion, hot water and 1 teaspoon salt until the salt has dissolved. Let sit for 5 minutes. This will soften the onion and lessen any bitter or harsh flavors. Rinse the onion under cold water and drain. In the same bowl, toss the onion with the oregano, lime juice, orange juice and 1/2 teaspoon salt; reserve.

3. In a separate bowl, quickly toss together the chicken, peppers and adobo sauce, making sure the chicken is completely coated. Season with salt. Cover and keep warm.

4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat (do not use foil or the cheese might stick). Arrange cheese in 8 equal mounds on the prepared baking sheet. Spread each mound evenly to about 3 inches wide, and space at least 1 inch apart. Bake until the cheese is bubbly and deep golden brown in spots and around the edges, about 14 minutes. Remove from the oven and place 1 tortilla over each cheese crust and return to the oven to heat the tortillas, about 2 minutes.

5. Use tongs to carefully remove each tortilla with its costra, flipping each one onto a plate so that the cheese is facing up. Top with chicken, onions, avocado, salsa and a squeeze of lime.

Pizza Salad

For pizza in salad form, this recipe tosses a crisp and briny mix of romaine lettuce, pepperoncini, black olives and red onion in a fresh, grated tomato vinaigrette. Spicy pepperoni strips are sizzled until crisp; their zesty fat gets sopped up by toasty breadcrumbs that are spiked with the classic New York slice flavors (oregano, garlic and red-pepper flakes). (You can make a big batch of these crumbs, store them in the fridge and use them to top pasta, eggs, roasted veggies and anything else you want to take to pizza town.) This salad is showered with the salty pepperoni crumbs, offset by mozzarella morsels running throughout.

By Sohla El-Waylly

Yield: 2 big salads or 4 side salads

Total time: 35 minutes


4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 ounces pepperoni slices (pork, turkey or plant-based), cut into thin strips (see Tip)

3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

1 teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons dried oregano


Red-pepper flakes

1 beefsteak tomato

1 tablespoon pepperoncini brine, plus more to taste

Granulated sugar (if needed)

1 large head romaine lettuce, roughly chopped

1/3 cup sliced pepperoncini, drained

1/3 cup sliced black olives

1/4 red onion, thinly sliced

4 ounces fresh mozzarella


1. In a medium nonstick or well-seasoned cast-iron skillet, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and the pepperoni and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the pepperoni is rendered and crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and use a slotted spoon to transfer the pepperoni to a plate.

2. Return the skillet with the fat to medium-low heat. Add the breadcrumbs and cook, stirring frequently, until browned and toasty, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the garlic powder, then the oregano, crumbling it between your fingers as you sprinkle it over the mixture. Add the pepperoni bits, scraping in any fat clinging to the plate, and stir until evenly combined. Season with salt and red-pepper flakes to taste.

3. On the large holes of a box grater, grate the tomato into a large bowl, discarding the remaining skin. Whisk in the pepperoncini brine and the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add salt, sugar and more brine to taste. Add the romaine, pepperoncini, olives and red onion; toss to combine.

4. Divide the salad among plates, pouring over any dressing remaining in the bowl. Tear mozzarella and divide over salad. Top with the pepperoni breadcrumbs and serve right away.

Tip: If using turkey pepperoni, increase the olive oil you use to cook the pepperoni to 3 tablespoons. If using a plant-based substitute, increase the initial oil to 4 tablespoons.

Gochujang Caramel Cookies

Gochujang, the fermented Korean chile paste, offers intrigue in this otherwise classic chewy sugar cookie. A gentle amount of ground cinnamon lends snickerdoodle vibes, and the dough is raked through with ripples of clay-red gochujang “caramel,” in which brown sugar and butter mellow the chile’s heat. Mixing this dough by hand is highly recommended for the most defined crinkles and the chewiest texture.

By Eric Kim

Yield: About 8 large cookies

Total time: 45 minutes


1/2 cup (8 tablespoons)/115 grams unsalted butter, very soft

2 packed tablespoons dark brown sugar

1 heaping tablespoon gochujang

1 cup/200 grams granulated sugar

1 large egg, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt or 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal)

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups/185 grams all-purpose flour


1. In a small bowl, stir together 1 tablespoon butter, the brown sugar and gochujang until smooth. Set aside for later, at room temperature.

2. In a large bowl, by hand, whisk together the remaining 7 tablespoons butter, the granulated sugar, egg, salt, cinnamon and vanilla until smooth, about 1 minute. Switch to a flexible spatula and stir in the baking soda. Add the flour and gently stir to combine. Place this large bowl in the refrigerator until the dough is less sticky but still soft and pliable, 15 to 20 minutes.

3. While the dough is chilling, heat the oven to 350 degrees and line 2 large sheet pans with parchment.

4. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. In 3 to 4 separately spaced out blobs, spoon the gochujang mixture over the cookie dough. Moving in long circular strokes, swirl the gochujang mixture into the cookie dough so you have streaks of orange-red rippled throughout the beige. Be sure not to overmix at this stage, as you want wide, distinct strips of gochujang.

5. Use an ice cream scoop to plop out 1/4-cup rounds spaced at least 3 inches apart on the sheet pans. (You should get 4 to 5 cookies per pan.) Bake until lightly golden at the edges and dry and set in the center, 11 to 13 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. Let cool completely on the sheet pan; the cookies will flatten slightly and continue cooking as they cool. The cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Spicy Corn and Shishito Salad

In this recipe, shishito peppers are sliced, lightly sautéed, then tossed with raw summer corn and a cumin-lime vinaigrette for a summer salad that’s crunchy, smoky and a little spicy. Traditionally used in Japanese and Korean cooking, shishitos are small, thin-skinned green peppers that have become increasingly popular in the United States. They are typically mild in flavor, but the occasional pepper packs a spicy punch. If you can’t find them, use diced green bell peppers in their place. Finally, cilantro-averse cooks can substitute fresh mint.

By Lidey Heuck

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 15 minutes


3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

Kosher salt

1/3 cup diced red onion

1 garlic clove, minced

3 cups fresh corn kernels (from 4 to 6 ears of corn)

6 ounces shishito peppers, stemmed and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices, or green bell peppers, stemmed and diced

1 large jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed, diced

1/4 cup grated Cotija or crumbled feta cheese (optional), or to taste

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, plus more to taste


1. In a small bowl, whisk 2 tablespoons olive oil with the lime juice, cumin and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Stir in the red onion and garlic and set aside until ready to use. (Do this step first so the onions and garlic have time to mellow slightly in the dressing.)

2. Place the corn kernels in a large bowl and set aside. In a medium (10-inch) saute pan, heat the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the shishitos, jalapeño and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the peppers are tender and beginning to brown, 4 to 6 minutes.

3. Add the peppers and dressing to the bowl with the corn and toss well. Add the cheese, if using, and toss. Garnish with cilantro.

Chez Panisse’s Blueberry Cobbler

This cobbler, which comes from the kitchens of Chez Panisse, prizes the berries above all, using only 1/3 cup of sugar. The dough rounds for the top are placed so they don’t cover all the berries, and the juice from the berries bubbles up around the dough.

Recipe from Lindsey Remolif Shere

Adapted by Molly O’Neill

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes


For the berries:

4 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

1/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

For the dough:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

3/4 cup heavy cream, plus additional for serving, if desired


1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. To prepare the berries, place in a bowl and toss with the sugar and flour. Set aside.

2. To make the dough, mix the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder in a bowl. Cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the cream and mix lightly, just until the dry ingredients are moistened.

3. Put the blueberries in a 1 1/2-quart gratin or baking dish. Make patties out of the dough, 2 to 2 1/2 inches in diameter and 1/2-inch thick. Arrange them over the top of the berries. Bake until the topping is brown and the juices bubble thickly around it, about 35 to 40 minutes.

4. Let cool slightly. Serve warm, with cream to pour on top, if desired.

Sheet-Pan Baked Feta With Broccolini, Tomatoes and Lemon

Sheet-pan baked feta with broccolini, tomatoes and lemon, a fan-favorite recipe from Yasmin Fahr that is both virtuous (all those veggies) and tasty, in New York, June 14, 2020. Food stylist: Barrett Washburne (Bryan Gardner/The New York Times)

When baked, feta gains an almost creamy texture, similar to goat cheese, but with feta’s characteristic tang. In this easy vegetarian sheet-pan dinner, Broccolini (or broccoli), grape tomatoes and lemon slices roast alongside the feta until the Broccolini crisp, the tomatoes burst and the lemon rinds soften. (Remember, Broccolini has a tender, delicious stalk, so only the bottom 1/2-inch needs to be trimmed.) Serve this dish over a pile of orzo for a complete meal. If you like, cut the Broccolini, feta and lemon into bite-size pieces and toss with the orzo.

By Yasmin Fahr

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 25 minutes


1 bunch Broccolini, ends trimmed, thick stalks split lengthwise, or broccoli, stalks trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved (about 2 cups)

1 small red onion, peeled, quartered and cut into 2-inch wedges

1 lemon, 1/2 cut into thin rounds and the remaining 1/2 left intact, for serving

3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes

Kosher salt and black pepper

2 (6- to 8-ounce) blocks feta, cut into 1-inch slices

Cooked orzo or farro, for serving

1/2 cup fresh basil or cilantro leaves and fine stems, roughly chopped (optional)


1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees with a rack set in the lower third. On a sheet pan, combine the Broccolini, tomatoes, onion and lemon slices with the olive oil and toss. Add cumin and red-pepper flakes, season with salt and pepper, and toss again until evenly coated. Nestle the feta slices into the vegetables. (It’s OK if they break apart a little.)

2. Roast 15 to 20 minutes, stirring halfway through but leaving the feta in place, until the Broccolini is charred at the tips, the stems are easily pierced with a fork and the tomato skins start to blister and break down.

3. Serve over orzo or farro. Drizzle with olive oil and serve with the remaining lemon half for squeezing. Top with fresh herbs, if using.

White Bean Hummus With Tahini and Coriander

Coriander seeds add a welcome aroma to this white bean dip, rich with tahini and bright with lemon juice. The miso paste is optional, but it gives the mellow white beans a nice savory depth.

By Genevieve Ko

Yield: 2 1/4 cups

Total time: 5 minutes


1 garlic clove

1 (15-ounce) can white cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1/4 cup tahini

5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 large lemon)

2 teaspoons coriander seeds, coarsely ground, or 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander

2 teaspoons white miso paste (optional)

Kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil


1. Pulse the garlic in a food processor until minced.

2. Scrape the bowl and add the beans, tahini, lemon juice, coriander, miso (if using) and 1 teaspoon salt. Pulse until smooth, scraping the bowl occasionally. With the machine running, add the olive oil. Season to taste with salt.

Tip: The dip will keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

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