8 Deliciously Simple Summer Meals—So You Can Just Relax Already

Chop up some fresh tomatoes, gather a handful of herbs, and get on with your summer fun with these easy, fresh and oh-so-tasty meal options.

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Summer’s here, and that means it’s time to relax by the pool, catch up on your reading—and avoid stressing about preparing an elaborate dinner. These delicious, simple summertime meals, brought to you by some of Indy’s local female dining experts, require minimal effort but deliver in the taste department. And as an added bonus, we even threw in a no-bake dessert.

AMANDA LEWTON, OWNER OF SUN KING KOKOMO

SUNKINGBREWING.COM, @SUNKINGKOKOMO

“This recipe is great with a cheese of your choice added on top—I enjoy blue cheese, feta or very small mozzarella chunks in this for a more filling salad.”

TOMATO CUCUMBER SALAD

Combine one container of halved cherry tomatoes, 4 mini cucumbers sliced and halved, and 2-3 chopped green onions (tops and all) in a bowl. Add about a tablespoon of olive oil and ¼ cup of red wine vinegar with ¼ teaspoon of seasoned salt and as much or little cracked pepper as you like. Toss, and before serving, tear up one bunch of basil and add it in, and then mix again.

CANDACE BOYD WYLIE, CHIEF FOODIE & SPICE SLANGER OF FOODLOVETOG

FOODLOVETOG.COM, @FOODLOVETOG

Xival Photography

“I love this dish for summer because it combines the best of comfort with the lightness of the flavors of summer. Hearty, healthy and delicious!”

BLACK-EYED PEA SALAD

Rinse and cook 3 cups of black-eyed peas until tender. Whisk together ½ cup of balsamic vinegar, 2 teaspoons honey and some salt, course-ground pepper and chili powder to create a vinaigrette. Add a diced carrot, two stalks of diced celery and half of a diced white onion to the black-eyed peas, along with the vinaigrette, and stir well. If you have time, you can cover the salad and let the flavors marry in the refrigerator for an hour, and feel free to mix in some cubed, cooked ham or pulled chicken to make the salad heartier.

Photo: Candace Boyd Wylie

ERIN TILL, CULINARY OPS PROFESSIONAL

“I like this tartine for summer because it’s light, bright, and herbaceous.”

QUICK TARTINE

Shred a rotisserie chicken and mix with capers, minced shallot, dill, a little olive oil, and the juice from one whole lemon. Pile on top of grilled bread and serve alongside a green salad dressed with more lemon.

JOLENE KETZENBERGER, OWNER AND PROPRIETOR OF THE SIGNATURE TABLE CULINARY PERFORMANCE SPACE & EDITOR OF EATDRINKINDY.COM 

THESIGNATURETABLE.COM, EATDRINKINDY.COM, @THE_SIGNATURE_TABLE, @EATDRINKINDY

“I love grain salads, and I especially like to use farro, as it adds heartiness and great flavor, especially if cooked in broth. This recipe can easily go in different directions. Here I’ve gone savory and used some typical Greek salad ingredients, but you could also go sweeter with apples, walnuts and raisins instead.” 

SUMMER FARRO SALAD

Rinse and drain 1 cup uncooked farro (such as Bob’s Red Mill brand), then cook it in 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth according to package instructions, adding in a small chopped onion while it cooks. Transfer to a large mixing or serving bowl. Add ¼ cup jarred sun dried tomatoes, a pint of cherry tomatoes, halved, a medium cucumber, seeded and chopped, and a chopped bell pepper. Toss to combine. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste. Sprinkle with feta, lightly toss again, then season with salt and pepper. Serve cold or at room temperature. Cook’s note: Add cooked shrimp or chicken, if desired. 

LAUREN MCGRAW, EVENT DIRECTOR AT BLUEBEARD AND KAN-KAN CINEMA & BRASSERIE

BLUEBEARDINDY.COM, KANKANINDY.COM, @BLUEBEARDINDY, @KANKANCINEMA 

“I regularly make quinoa tabbouleh and bring it to summer parties and it’s totally gobbled up right away. I always have scallions and parsley and mint, and I know a lot of people have cucumbers right now. It’s super easy and simple, takes minimal chopping, and quinoa is just so hard to mess up. I can make this with a baby on my hip and it’s easy for my older daughter to help me rip up the parsley with her hands.”

QUINOA TABBOULEH

“I cook one cup of quinoa while I rummage through the fridge for the other ingredients. While the quinoa is cooking, I whisk some lemon juice together with olive oil, and sometimes I add some celery salt. Then I chop up some tomatoes, scallions, parsley, mint and cucumbers. After the quinoa is cooked, I put it on a plate and set it in the freezer for a few minutes to cool down quickly because I’m impatient—just don’t leave it too long because that would make a really weird popsicle! Then I mix all the ingredients together, add salt and pepper, and then see if I have any black beans or feta that I can add in so they can live a better life than sitting in the back of my fridge.”

CORRIE COOK, NARRATION DIRECTOR FOR SMOKING GOOSE + PUBLIC SMOKEHOUSE AND GOOSE THE MARKET

SMOKINGGOOSE.COM, GOOSETHEMARKET.COM, @SMOKINGGOOSEMEATERY, @GOOSETHEMARKET

“My go-to stay-cool summer dinner is the seafood lineup at Smoking Goose. When it’s hot in the kitchen before even turning on the stove, I crave refreshing meals that don’t take much more than five minutes, a knife, and a cutting board. Seafood is one of my favorite food groups year-round, but with Smoking Goose’s ready-to-eat catch list, quick, cool, and satisfying suppers are a breeze.” 

SMOKED OCTOPUS WITH CANNELLINI BEANS

Finely chop garlic and lemon zest—even better in a mortar and pestle—along with shallot and any fresh herbs to blend into cannellini beans poured right out of the can, and then fold in Smoking Goose’s smoked octopus simply cut into bite size pieces. It’s citrus brined and fully cooked—so delicious, and the color is striking and beautiful. This dish is tasty at room temperature, but once the sun goes down, you can pop it in an oven-safe dish in the toaster oven to serve hot.

SONJA OVERHISER, FOOD BLOGGER AND CREATOR OF ACOUPLECOOKS.COM, AUTHOR OF PRETTY SIMPLE COOKING AND CO-FOUNDER OF INDY WOMEN IN FOOD

ACOUPLECOOKS.COM, @ACOUPLECOOKS

“Here’s a flavor-popping marinated tomato salad that’s the absolute best way to use juicy ripe summer tomatoes. Once you try it, you’ll never go back.” 

FRESH TOMATO SALAD

Chop 4 to 6 large ripe summer tomatoes into wedges. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, flaky salt, and chopped fresh herbs (basil, oregano or thyme). Marinate for 30 minutes.

 

 

JESSICA HALSTEAD, LEAD CHEF OF SOCHATTI CHOCOLATE

SOCHATTI.COM, @SOCHATTI

“Try this easy two-ingredient dessert—the perfect combination of peanuts and

chocolate. No oven, stove, or microwave needed!”

SOCHATTI CHOCOLATE PEANUT CLUSTERS

Measure out two cups of shelled, salted peanuts into a bowl. Add 8 ounces of SoChatti melted chocolate and stir to combine. Scoop rounded tablespoons of the mixture onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet and then place into the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes. Enjoy immediately or store in an airtight container.

Stephanie Groves is a freelance writer based in Indianapolis who loves any excuse to chop up fresh herbs.