budget talk

No Cook Meals For the Budget Savvy

Whether you’ve been out to work all day, or just had a lazy day at the beach, cooking dinner on a hot summer day is sometimes the last thing you want to do. Here are some no cook meal recipes and suggestions for items to keep on hand for an impromptu meal.

Cold Soup
I know some people can’t accept the idea that soup can be served cold, but to those people I say, you’re missing out on a quick and easy summer meal. Many years ago I found a great recipe for gazpacho and since then I’ve been experimenting with it and here’s my version of the classic soup. It serves 4-6

4 cups of V8 juice
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
A good pinch of both salt and pepper
A good dash of Tabasco sauce
1 English cucumber, or any other seedless variety, peeled and finely chopped
Half a medium onion, finely chopped. I like to use Walla Walla or Vidalia, but red onion works perfectly too
1 rib of celery, finely chopped

In a blender, add the V8 juice, oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and Tabasco sauce and blend. Pour the mixture into a large bowl. I like to use a glass bowl as the soup seems to chill faster and keep cooler longer. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir together. Chill at least two hours and serve in bowls that you’ve placed in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.

Salmon Quesadillas (Serves 2 as meal, 3 as an appetizer)
4 flour tortillas
1 7 oz. can pink salmon, drained and bones removed
¼ cup of mayonnaise, mixed with 1 teaspoon of dill weed.
Mix the salmon and mayonnaise together and spread the mixture on two of the tortillas. Top them with the remaining tortillas and press down slightly. Lightly grill or fry them until they’re golden brown on each side and cut them into quarters.
Serve with them salsa to which you’ve added about ½ cup of chopped, peeled cucumber.

Curried Chicken Salad (Serves 4)
This one’s really tasty and full of good for you ingredients. If you don’t want to use chicken, you can opt for tuna. And if you want to go vegetarian, I use a product called Quorn, www.quorn.us, which you can buy in many supermarkets and co-ops. I use the Chik ‘n Tenders for this recipes and use them in salads all summer long.

3 cooked chicken breasts, chopped into bite sized pieces
½ cup of mayonnaise
1 cup of seedless red or green grapes, halved
¼ cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted
1 tablespoon curry powder
Just mix everything together in a bowl, and serve with French bread or in a scooped out tomato.

Pasta Salad (Number of Servings depends on what you have on hand)
Take any cooked pasta, my favorite’s penne for this one. It’s also great for using up leftover pasta, even spaghetti. Toss the pasta with chopped tomatoes, fresh shredded basil, and cubes of mozzarella cheese, chopped olives, and a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste.

Veggie Loaf (Serves 4-6, depending on how hungry everyone is)
Here’s something I’ve been making for years and I always connect it with summer.

Take an uncut loaf of bread… any round shaped bread is great for this. Cut it in half horizontally.
In a bowl, had half a sliced onion, two chopped tomatoes, half a red pepper, chopped.
Add a handful of pitted chopped olives, ¼ cup blue cheese, and enough Italian or vinaigrette dressing to coat all the ingredients.
Mix everything together and pile onto one half of the loaf and top with the other half. Press the loaf down firmly and wrap with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour. When it’s chilled enough, slice it into wedges. You’ll find all these ingredients have blended together and made the bread soft and full of flavor. This also makes the ideal picnic treat.

The Pantry Comes to the Rescue
I’ve found the following items are ideal to keep on hand for no cook or quick cook meals. Cans of tuna, beans, pasta, olives, sun dried tomatoes, lots of herbs and spices. And in the freezer keep a couple of different kinds of bread on hand. You can make pizza, sandwiches or just something to eat with a salad.

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