Easy Summer Meals

A delicious summer meal doesn't require a long day in the kitchen

During the height of summer, we like to spend as much time relaxing outside as possible. This means that we aren’t always in the mood for a day in the kitchen. For those occasions, we rely on quick and easy recipes. Whether you’re tucked away at home or relaxing in a beachside getaway, we’ve rounded up our favorite recipes for summer meals that come together in 20 minutes or less.

A light, cool pasta salad makes for a great meal on a hot summer day. Perfect for a picnic, our Greek-inspired pasta salad pairs rotini with tangy feta and ripe veggies. Slightly heartier is our sausage and arugula pasta salad with a simple vinaigrette. For an Asian twist, try our soba noodle salad with marinated cucumber and ponzu or our sesame noodles with a creamy peanut butter and and sesame paste sauce.

Grilling might seem too involved for a quick meal, but once you master the basics it becomes totally doable on a weeknight. Get your fire going and cook up a smoky brisket burger, lobster, or even a whole sea bass.

Fish cooks quickly, so it’s a prime candidate for a fast summer meal off the grill, too. Try cooking fish fillets in a skillet with cherry tomatoes for an easy but elegant supper. Even easier is blue catfish, which we very simply pan-fry in butter. Sole meunière is a French classic that sounds intimidating, but comes together in minutes with butter, flour, and lemon.

Find all of these dishes and more in our collection of quick and easy summer recipes.

Sausage and Arugula Pasta Salad

Pasta salads are essential summer food: they travel well; they’re easy to adapt to whatever produce you have on-hand; and they’re simple to make in large portions, making them perfect dishes to carry to parties, picnics, and barbecues. Get the recipe for Sausage and Arugula Pasta Salad »

Blue Catfish

This catfish recipe is incredibly simple—the fish doesn’t need more than a quick pan-fry in butter.

The “Grill Everything but the Burger” Brisket Burger

The all-brisket patty for this burger—from San Francisco’s Wes Rowe, a pop-up burger slinger—is grilled, but in a cast-iron pan over the flame.

Summer Bolognese

This recipe for summer bolognese has the classic comfort of bolognese, but without the heaviness of a red sauce, instead embracing the summer’s bounty of gorgeous tomatoes and fresh basil.

Soba Salad with Marinated Cucumber and Ponzu

Soba Salad with Marinated Cucumber and Ponzu

Whole Grilled Sea Bass

Fish stuffed with loads of herbs and rubbed with a simple garlic butter are grilled whole, which leaves them with a smoky, charred flavor and tender meat.

Pan-Seared Cod with Spring Vegetables

Writer Isabel Gillies tosses together this summery dish with cod fresh from the Maine shoreline and seasonal garden greens. Rainbow chard, bibb lettuce, spring peas, and fresh herbs contrast with the richness of butter-basted pan-seared cod. Get the recipe for Pan-Seared Cod with Spring Vegetables »

Grilled Lobster with Cilantro-Chile Butter

Chiles, lime, and cilantro flavor these grilled lobsters. Get the recipe for Grilled Lobster with Cilantro-Chile Butter »

Sesame Noodles

A garnish of chopped peanuts and slivered cucumber and carrot add crunch to the silky, savory Chinese-American noodle dish. Get the recipe for Sesame Noodles »

Linguine with Clam Sauce

The secret to this simple and satisfying pasta dish is boiling the linguine until it’s just al dente, so that it will absorb plenty of the briny, winey sauce when the two are cooked together. Get the recipe for Linguine with Clam Sauce »
A bright salsa made from ripe mangoes, cilantro, red onion, and lime is the perfect foil for thick swordfish steaks.

Greek Pasta Salad

Tangy feta and crunchy veggies get extra body from rotini in this classic Greek-inspired pasta salad. Get the recipe for Greek Pasta Salad »

Seared Scallops with Wasabi-Ginger Butter

After discovering that fresh whole wasabi plants were available in the United States, Adrian J.S. Hale found all kinds of innovative uses for them, such as this butter-rich sauce in which the pungent heat of the wasabi root, or rhizome, is balanced by the delicate earthiness of the leaves for a mild heat and slight bitterness that accentuate the sweet flavor of plump pan-seared scallops. Get the recipe for Seared Scallops with Wasabi-Ginger Butter »
Manhattan’s Grand Central Oyster Bar serves this dish each spring in softshell crab season, but it’s delectable all summer long.

Swiss Chard and Chipotle Tacos

Onions, mushrooms, sweet corn, and chiles in adobo add hearty, smoky flavor to this Swiss chard-based taco filling. Get the recipe for Swiss Chard and Chipotle Tacos »

Whole Grilled Fish with Lemon (Riba na Rostilju)

Seka Salamun, a home cook in Tisno, Croatia, uses olive wood to impart a mild smokiness to this grilled fish. Though delicious with just a squeeze of lemon, it also pairs beautifully with classic French fish sauces. Get the recipe for Whole Grilled Fish with Lemon (Riba na Rostilju) »

Chile-Garlic Shrimp (Gambas Al Ajillo)

These shrimp are cooked in a hot cast iron pan with tons of garlic and red Thai chiles.

Spicy Yuba Stir-Fry with Edamame

Spicy Yuba Stir-Fry with Edamame

Sole Meunière

Dover sole is a remarkable fish—meaty and succulent, but with a delicate flavor. When it comes to cooking it, the simplest way is the best, as in classic sole meuniere, where butter and lemon subtly enhance the taste and texture.

Curried Mussels

Curry powder and cilantro add zest to classic white wine-steamed mussels. Get the recipe for Curried Mussels »

Tagliatelle with Poppy Seeds and Prosciutto

Poppy seeds lend their toasty aroma to a creamy pasta dish based on one served by chef Matthew Accarrino at SPQR in San Francisco. Get the recipe for Tagliatelle with Poppy Seeds and Prosciutto »

Quick Fish Filets in Tomato Sauce

Bring all the ingredients along for this simple main dish on a camping trip and make it with freshly caught fish.