Without a doubt, humanity advanced leaps and bounds once it became clear that cooking over fire equaled better food. But sometimes, it’s just too hot or the day’s too long to even consider turning on an oven or stove. Luckily, plenty of recipes require no heat (or very, very little) and are just as flavorful and satisfying as their cooked counterparts. Here are 19 spectacular meals for those days during a heat wave — or when cooking just isn’t on the menu.
Salads are truly the ultimate no-cook dish. This recipe from Ali Slagle is a bacchanal of textures, combining crunchy cucumbers and scallions (fresh out of an ice bath) with creamy cubes of avocado dressed in lemon juice and seasoned with salt. Add as many or as few red-pepper flakes as you’d like, and consider your lunch or dinner ready.
Say it with us: dip for dinner. A dip shares well, can take on any number of crackers and crudités, and, most important, it usually requires no heat. This recipe from Naz Deravian encourages you to use dried herbs, which anchor the brightness and zip of celery, lemon juice and tart Greek yogurt. Serve with your favorite vehicles for dip delivery and rest well knowing that the kitchen won’t be a total disaster when you’re done.
Recipe: Borani-yeh Karafs (Celery Yogurt Dip)
Is your summer garden overflowing with squash? Put it to use in this budget-friendly recipe from Ali Slagle, which involves softening raw zucchini in salt and lime juice and allowing toasted chickpeas and peanuts seasoned with sumac to bring crunch and heft. If you don’t want to turn on your stove, feel free to use toasted peanuts or your favorite chickpea snacks from the grocery store — just skip the added salt.
This recipe from Eric Kim is more than just a boon for beginner cooks. It’s also just the ticket for those days when you want something straightforward but delicious. Mash together canned tuna, mayonnaise, sesame oil and soy sauce, then season it to taste with furikake and sesame seeds, or scallions and a little wasabi. Spoon over last night’s leftover rice or take some to-go from a local restaurant.
Mango always shines in an unfussy setting, like this green papaya salad-inspired recipe from Kay Chun. Umami-rich fish sauce and sharp minced shallots give the salad a kick — perfect complements to mellow avocado and mango. The only hard and fast rule here: Make sure your mangoes are at peak ripeness.
Recipe: Mango-Avocado Salad With Lime Vinaigrette