budget talk

No Cook Meals

It’s hot, it’s humid and you can’t stand the thought of spending more than 10 minutes in the kitchen. Here are some meal ideas I often fall back on. They’re quick and budget friendly.

Mediterranean Platter
This one’s a breeze to put together, especially if you have some of the ingredients already in your pantry. On a large platter, place hummus, sun dried tomatoes… I prefer the ones packed in oil, some olives, and feta cheese, maybe some canned tuna and pair it with pita bread or focaccia. It’s a light meal and people can pick and choose what they want. Leftovers make ideal sandwiches for lunch the next day.

Salmon Quesadillas
You’ll need four tortillas; one 7 oz. can of pink salmon, about ¼ cup of mayonnaise, mixed with 1 tsp. dill weed. Mix the salmon and mayo mixture and spread it on two tortillas. Top with another of the tortillas and press down slightly. Lightly grill or fry until they’re golden brown on each side and then cut into quarters. Serve it with your favorite salsa.

Tuna and Egg Stuffed Tomatoes
When I taught afternoon tea classes I’d used this mixture for one of the sandwiches, but these days I find it makes a really good filling for stuffed tomatoes. I like to serve them with triangles of toasted whole wheat or whole grain bread. Allow either one large beefsteak tomato per person or two smaller ones. The filling serves four. Three hard- boiled eggs, chopped. Six tablespoons of mayonnaise, one 7 oz. can tuna in water. Mix all the ingredients together, pile into the tomatoes and chill for about an hour before serving.

Grilled Fish
A quick cooking food is fish. You can select any fish you like, grill it for a few minutes, and serve it with salsa or chutney. It’s ideal paired with a tossed green salad.

Curried Chicken Salad
This one’s really tasty and full of good for you ingredients. If you don’t want to use chicken you can go with tuna. Another idea is to replace the real chicken with a vegetarian product like Quorn. This recipe serves four people. You’ll need three cooked chicken breasts, chopped into bite size pieces. ½ cup of mayonnaise, 1 cup of chopped seedless red or green grapes, ¼ cup chopped toasted pecans or walnuts, one tablespoon of curry powder. Just mix everything together. This is great with crusty French bread, or once again served in a scooped out tomato.

Pasta Salad
Take any cooked pasta and toss it with chopped tomatoes, fresh shredded basil, and cubes of mozzarella cheese, chopped olives and add a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste.

Veggie Loaf
Here’s something I’ve been making for years and I always connect it with summer. Take an uncut loaf of bread; I really like the round boule style ones. Cut it in half horizontally. In a bowl add half a sliced onion, the sweet varieties like Walla Walla are great for this, two chopped tomatoes, half a red pepper, chopped. Add a handful of 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 down firmly and wrap tightly 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. If you don’t want to go with just veggies, you can add a can of tuna to the mix. This makes a really great picnic item because a ‘soggy’ sandwich is really what you want to end up with anyway.

The Pantry Comes to the Rescue
I’ve found the following items are ideal to keep on hand for no cook or simple meals, cans of tuna, beans, pasta, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, lots of herbs and spices, and in the freezer you should keep a couple of different types of breads.

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