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Easy 3-Ingredient Summer Side Dishes That Require No Cooking

The best thing about summer (aside from swimming, lightning bugs, barbecuing and popsicles) is cooking with seasonal, farm-fresh produce. These no-cook sides use the best of summer's bounty and keep it simple, letting the fresh produce be the star.

3 min read

With fruits and veggies at their peak, you don’t have to be a master-level chef to pull together stunning side dishes using just three ingredients. The following recipes are designed to be easy-peasy for you, so the ingredients shine through. Bonus? Most of them are delicious at room temperature. Note: we didn’t count staples like olive oil, salt or pepper towards our three-ingredient limit. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Sugar Snap Peas, Mint and Ricotta Salata

Stem and blanch a pound to 1½ pounds (about four-five cups) of sugar snap peas. Chiffonade (a fancy term for thinly sliced or shredded greens) a couple of handfuls of mint. Toss with olive oil, ricotta salata, feta or crumbled goat cheese.

Quinoa Salad: Inspired by 101 Cookbooks(Opens in a new window)

Quinoa is like a high-protein, super-healthy blank canvas to use with whatever’s fresh and on hand. Heidi Swanson from 101 Cookbooks adds currants, shredded zucchini, dill and feta to this version. You could just as easily keep the zucchini (we might spiralize(Opens in a new window) it for extra bulk) and sub cilantro for dill and sliced radish for currants. A squeeze of lime or a few dashes of vinegar wouldn’t hurt a thing either.

Grilled Whole Watermelon

Watermelon, Feta and Arugula Salad

Sweet meets savory and slightly spicy in this new summer standard. Ina Garten’s version(Opens in a new window) has more than three ingredients, so we pared ours back and just used cubed watermelon, crumbled feta and peppery arugula. Guess what? It’s just as delicious. If you're having a barbecue, consider grilling the watermelon to take the flavor to the next level. Plus, get more summer salad ideas.

Oven Roasted Whatever’s-in-Season

We know the last thing you want to do is turn on the oven, but hear us out. If you roast a big batch of veggies at the beginning of the week, you can use them as sides, in sandwiches, on top of grilled pizza—you get it. Here’s how we do it: using a mandoline, evenly slice veggies (we like eggplant, summer squash or zucchini), toss in a big bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper. If we’re feeling spicy we add cumin or a pinch of crushed red pepper, roast at 375℉ until crisp-soft—it’s a thing, trust us.

Want more summer food ideas? Here's everything you need to know about grilling, our best easy no-bake dessert ideas, plus fun summer cocktails and refreshing mocktails.


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