11 Easy Vegetarian Summer Dinners

Bountiful meals for the most bountiful time of year.

By Tanya Sichynsky

After those excursions to the beach, leisurely park meet-ups and daylong pool hangs, you’ve still got to eat. Chances are you’re a bit wiped from the sun, too. So turn to the best produce summer has to offer and keep things as easy and breezy as the season. The recipes below come together in 30 minutes or less and make the most of the tomatoes, corn, eggplant, zucchini, green beans and cucumbers that we just can’t get enough of right now.

1. Tomato Butter Pasta

When you’ve tired of slices of juicy, heirloom tomatoes on toast, try this recipe from Ali Slagle, which calls for the most ripe fruit you can find. That’s because here, the tomatoes are barely cooked: They’re grated and stirred vigorously with butter for a couple of minutes over heat, where they emulsify with the fat for a luscious sauce that tastes like a summertime garden in a bowl.

Recipe: Tomato Butter Pasta

2. Zucchini Tofu Udon

In this quick stir-fried noodle dish from Hetty Lui McKinnon, a buttery sauce built on punchy fuyu, or fermented tofu, enrobes softened zucchini and chewy udon. A generous amount of black pepper is mixed in as well for flavors that recall cacio e pepe.

Recipe: Zucchini Tofu Udon

3. Halloumi With Corn, Cherry Tomatoes and Basil

This warm salad of softened tomatoes, browned cheese, crisp red onion and fresh basil might be Melissa Clark at her best. While those components are already mouthwatering on their own, the addition of jalapeño, cumin seeds and lime juice takes their flavors to new heights. Good luck not making it every week until Labor Day.

Recipe: Halloumi With Corn, Cherry Tomatoes and Basil

4. Summery Greens and Beans With Toasted Crumbs

Brimming with soft Swiss chard, just-tender green beans and hearty lima beans, this cassoulet-inspired meal from Rick A. Martínez is brothy, delicate and surprisingly deep in flavor given its pared back ingredient list.

Recipe: Summery Greens and Beans With Toasted Crumbs

5. Cold Tofu Salad With Tomatoes and Peaches

When you don’t want to cook, look no further than this recipe from Hana Asbrink. It’s cooling, tangy, sweet and herbaceous, the perfect antidote to late-summer heat. Inspired by both Japanese hiyayakko and Italian caprese, it pairs seasonal fruit with creamy, jiggly silken tofu, all in a savory balsamic and soy sauce dressing that mingles with the juices of almost too ripe tomatoes and peaches.

Recipe: Cold Tofu Salad With Tomatoes and Peaches

6. Chilled Zucchini Soup With Lemon and Basil

Put away the pots and pull out the blender for this meal from Hetty Lui McKinnon. Not only is it cooling and no-cook, but also it’s vegan. Cashews add creaminess and body, and plenty of garlic, miso, citrus and fresh herbs punch up zucchini’s gentle flavors.

Recipe: Chilled Zucchini Soup With Lemon and Basil

7. Herb-Marinated Seared Tofu

When the garden is bursting with herbs — or when you’ve simply bought too much parsley and cilantro and oregano for some other recipe — turn to this recipe from Ali Slagle. Its charm is in its endless adaptability: Use cilantro or mint or dill, add capers or ginger or chile. The ingredients can be roughly eyeballed and imprecise, and it will still come out perfectly, the truest marker of a great summertime recipe.

Recipe: Herb-Marinated Seared Tofu

8. Tomato Salad With Chickpeas and Feta

Take the straightforward tomato salad up a notch with the help of Hetty Lui McKinnon. Here, she doctors the requisite tomatoes and basil with chickpeas and feta for heft, and a fragrant mixture of spiced nuts and seeds for a crunchy topping that amounts to savory sprinkles.

Recipe: Tomato Salad With Chickpeas and Feta

9. Abdoogh Khiar (Chilled Buttermilk Cucumber Soup)

Tangy buttermilk and creamy yogurt team up in this supremely slurpable Iranian cold soup from Naz Deravian. The dairy is blended until frothy before cucumbers, raisins, walnuts, and fresh and dried herbs are added in. Lavash is tucked in at the last minute, and, to keep it at just the right chilly temperature, ice cubes are tossed in just before serving. “All nine dinner party attendees agreed that this cool, flavorful soup is a perfect summer treat,” wrote one reader in the comments.

Recipe: Abdoogh Khiar (Chilled Buttermilk Cucumber Soup)

10. Summer Vegetable Skewers

When it’s this warm and the produce is this good, dinner can just be a load of vegetables. Season zucchini and eggplant with garlic, oregano and red-pepper flakes, as Melissa Clark does here, and thread them on skewers for a simple meal that looks spectacularly summery. To round out your meal, pair them with skewers of paprika-dusted grilling cheese.

Recipe: Summer Vegetable Skewers

11. Crispy Grains and Halloumi With Smashed Cucumbers

You’ve been warned: While this recipe does ask you to turn on the broiler, it’s only on for an incredibly brief time. In this bright and unexpected salad, Ali Slagle has you spread out hearty cooked grains like farro or brown rice, chunks of grilling cheese and chickpeas on a sheet pan until they become perfectly crisp. (Alternatively, you can do this in a skillet!) Citrusy cucumbers and herbs add freshness to every bite.

Recipe: Crispy Grains and Halloumi With Smashed Cucumbers

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