NORTHWOODS COOKS: Simple, no-cook meals for hot, summer days

With summer in full swing, this selection of meal ideas from “30 No Cook Summer Meals” on won’t heat up the kitchen.

With summer in full swing, this selection of meal ideas from “30 No Cook Summer Meals” on won’t heat up the kitchen.
MNL/Martin Lee -

With summer in full swing, this selection of meal ideas from “30 No-Cook Summer Meals” on won’t heat up the kitchen.

Greek Pasta Salad

1/2 cup olive oil


1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1-1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1-1/2 tsp. dried basil

1-1/2 tsp. dried oregano

3/4 tsp. ground black pepper

3/4 tsp. white sugar

2-1/2 cups cooked elbow macaroni

3 cups fresh sliced mushrooms


15 cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup sliced red bell peppers

3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/2 cup chopped green onions

4-oz. can whole black olives

3/4 cup sliced pepperoni sausage, cut into strips

In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, garlic powder, basil, oregano, black pepper, and sugar. Add cooked pasta, mushrooms, tomatoes, red peppers, feta cheese, green onions, olives, and pepperoni. Toss until evenly coated. Cover and chill 2 hours or overnight.


Ranch Chicken Tacos

1/2 cup ranch dressing

1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream

1-oz. packet taco seasoning mix, divided

1 Tbsp. mild chunky salsa

2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken

8 (6-inch) corn tortillas

shredded lettuce

1 tomato, chopped

4 green onions, sliced

4-oz. can sliced black olives

1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced (optional)

1 cup shredded Colby-Monterey jack cheese

Combine ranch dressing, sour cream, 1 teaspoon taco seasoning and salsa in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Toss chicken with remaining taco seasoning. Cover bowl loosely with wax paper or plastic wrap. Microwave chicken until it is heated through, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Warm the tortillas in a skillet for about a minute on each side to make them pliable. Place a scoop of chicken on the tortilla and top with lettuce, tomato, green onion, olives, avocado, cheese, and a spoonful of the ranch dressing mixture.

Black Bean and Corn Salad

Sprinkle over lettuce and tortilla chips to create a taco salad.

1/3 cup fresh lime juice

1/2 cup olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. ground cayenne pepper

2 (15-oz.) cans black beans, rinsed and drained

1-1/2 cups frozen corn kernels

1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced

1 red bell pepper, chopped

2 tomatoes, chopped

6 green onions, thinly sliced

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Place lime juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, and cayenne pepper in a small jar. Cover with a lid, and shake until ingredients are well mixed.

In a salad bowl, combine beans, corn, avocado, bell pepper, tomatoes, green onions, and cilantro. Shake lime dressing, and pour it over the salad. Stir salad to coat vegetables and beans with dressing before serving.

Avocado and Tuna Tapas

Serve with a crisp white wine and crunchy bread.

12-oz. can solid white tuna packed in water, drained

1 Tbsp. mayonnaise

3 green onions, thinly sliced, plus additional for garnish

1/2 red bell pepper, chopped

1 dash balsamic vinegar

black pepper to taste

1 pinch garlic salt, or to taste

2 ripe avocados, halved and pitted

Stir together tuna, mayonnaise, green onions, red pepper and balsamic vinegar in a bowl. Season with pepper and garlic salt, then pack the avocado halves with the tuna mixture. Garnish with reserved green onions and a dash of black pepper before serving.

Simple Egg Salad

Serve on lettuce or a toasted bagel

6 hard-cooked eggs, chopped

1/4 cup chopped cucumber

3 tablespoons ranch dressing

1 tablespoon mustard

salt and ground black pepper to taste

Combine eggs, cucumber, ranch dressing, mustard, salt, and black pepper in a bowl.

Readers are invited to submit four to five of their favorite recipes to enjoy, along with a note about what makes them special. Send recipes to

Related Topics: FOODRECIPES
Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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