6 Light and Easy Summer Dinner Recipes

avocado and watermelon radish toast

While summer is a longed-for season to savor, your days may be more playful and social. Added to the expansive days and heat of summer, you may be a little tuckered out by the end of the day. Luckily, the seasonal foods of summer are generally lighter, fresher, and much quicker to prepare.

Here are six simple, quick, and delicious recipes for you to try during your busy summer work week.

1. Summer Salad with Creamy Beet Dressing

Just when you thought summer couldn’t get any brighter, try this creamy pink beet dressing to top your salad. 

Prep time: 10 minutes

Ingredients for salad:

  • 5 cups mixed greens (or lettuce of choice)
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 3 sliced radishes
  • 1 small cucumber, chopped
  • 1/2 cup toasted cashews

Ingredients for dressing:

  • 1 cup cooked beets (available pre-cooked at your local health-food store)
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil (or oil of choice)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Water (for desired consistency)

Directions:

In a bowl, toss together salad greens, carrot, cucumber, radish, and cashews.

In a blender, combine beets, coconut milk, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, oil, and salt. Blend until smooth. Add water until desired thickness is achieved.

Toss salad with dressing.

Serves 2

2. Garden Green Gazpacho

This delicious and nutritious fresh spin on a summer gazpacho is quick and easy to make. The nutrient-dense pumpkin seeds are rich in healthy fats, protein, and various minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron, making this either a complete and balanced meal, or a lovely side dish.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cucumber, peeled                                                                              
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 celery stalk                                                                     
  • 1 garlic clove                                                     
  • 1/2 cup water (more optional)                
  • 1 avocado                                                                          
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil                      
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt (or to taste)                                                              
  • 1 small jalapeño
  • 1/4 cup parsley                                                                
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup spinach                                           
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt (optional)

Directions:

Chop the veggies into small pieces.

Mix all ingredients into blender and blend until smooth. Add water as needed for desired consistency.

Add extra sea salt to taste and Greek yogurt, if desired.

Serves 4

3. Avocado Toast with Himalayan Sea Salt, Watermelon Radish, and Microgreens

The best elements of avocado toast—America’s trendiest breakfast—are simplicity, versatility, the healthy fats in the avocado, and, of course, the buttery rich flavor. While you can’t go wrong with most versions of avocado toast, this is a tasty spin with a summer twist. 

Prep time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 2 slices of your favorite bread
  • 2 teaspoons avocado or olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Himalayan sea salt
  • 1 watermelon radish, sliced (If unavailable, use any type of radish)
  • 1/4 cup microgreens
  • Optional: your favorite protein (such as smoked salmon, poached egg, or nitrate-free turkey bacon)

Directions:

Toast bread under broiler or in toaster until your bread is golden brown. Drizzle with oil.

Mash avocado onto toast. Sprinkle with Himalayan sea salt.

Top with sliced watermelon radish and microgreens. Finish it off with your favorite protein. 

Serves 1

4. Massaged Kale Salad

As you may have heard, kale is known for its powerhouse nutritional density. Massaging raw kale helps it naturally wilt while it remains raw with its nutrients intact. Try this simple salad ready in just minutes.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of kale
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive or avocado oil
  • Juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts

Directions:

Tear the kale leaves off the stem and into bite-size pieces. Place into a bowl and add oil, avocado, lemon, and sea salt.

Massage the kale leaves gently with your hands, coating them with oil and avocado until the kale is slightly wilted. Add cherry tomatoes and toasted pumpkin seeds. Toss and enjoy.

Serving suggestions: This salad is a wonderful stand-alone meal. You may also top with your favorite protein, such as baked tofu, grilled chicken, or smoked salmon.

Serves 4

5. Veggie Medley Quinoa Bowl with Tahini Drizzle

You can pour this tahini drizzle on almost anything for a delicious dose of protein and fat (or just eat it right off the spoon!). Add it to your favorite seasonal stir-fried vegetable and quinoa bowl and you will have a tasty dinner ready in minutes.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients for quinoa bowl:

  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 2 cups your favorite summer vegetables:
    • Peppers
    • Broccoli
    • Cabbage
    • Leafy greens of any sort
    • Green beans
    • Tomatoes
    • Zucchini
    • Mushrooms
    • Bok choy
    • Leeks

Ingredients for tahini drizzle:

  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 2 tablespoons tamari or coconut aminos
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 inch piece of ginger (same size as a garlic clove)
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 cup water (depending on desired thickness)

Directions:

Cook 1 cup of quinoa in 2 cups of boiling water for 15 minutes.

While the quinoa is cooking, sauté chopped garlic and onion with avocado oil until lightly cooked and aromatic.

Add your favorite chopped vegetables (2 cups, raw) to pan. Sprinkle with sea salt. Sauté until lightly cooked (3–5 minutes). Place the tahini sauce ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Place quinoa and vegetables in a bowl, drizzle with tahini sauce, and mix.

Serves 2

 

6. Asian Chicken Slaw with Red Cabbage, Black Sesame Seeds, and Avocado

Try this spin on a mayonnaise-free slaw. Rich in phytonutrients (nutrients found in some plants that may have health benefits for humans), red cabbage is a wonderful cancer-fighting, antioxidant-rich healing food to add to your diet. The Asian-inspired dressing gives this dish a delightful bit of spice and flavor.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Ingredients for slaw:

  • 3 cups shredded red cabbage
  • 3 shredded carrots
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • 3 tablespoons black sesame seeds
  • 2 cups cooked chicken (grilled or roasted)

Ingredients for dressing:

  • 1/2 cup toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons red chili paste
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon wasabi paste (optional)

 Directions:

For the dressing, whisk together all ingredients well.

Then mix the shredded red cabbage and carrot together. Toss with avocado and black sesame seeds. Pour the dressing over cabbage slaw little by little–tasting as you go–to be sure you find the perfect amount for you. Mix well.

Top with cooked chicken and serve.

Serves 4

Cooking summer meals can be healthy and efficient. Nourishing yourself with nutrient-dense summer foods will keep your energy and vitality high so that you can enjoy all of your fun in the sun.

*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Chopra Center's Mind-Body Medical Group; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program


Discover Deepak Chopra’s simple yet powerful practices to create a balanced and healthy lifestyle all year long with our online course, Secrets to Vibrant HealthClick here to learn more.


 

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About the Author
SueVanRaes

Sue Van Raes

Functional nutritionist and Food Psychology Specialist
Sue Van Raes is a functional nutritionist, food psychology specialist, and author in Boulder Co. As founder of Boulder Nutrition , Sue helps people navigate how to make sustainable changes in their health and make peace with their plate. Sue uses a combination of science-based testing, clinical nutrition, holistic nutrition, natural medicine, functional medicine, homeopathy, and metabolic typing to guide folks in experiencing clarity, vitality, and body-positive living. She works with clients locally, remotely, online and on her local and international health and yoga retreats.Read more