8 Summer Dinners That Take 20 Minutes or Less

8 Summer Dinners That Take 20 Minutes or Less

Summer is not the season to spend cooped up in the kitchen. The backyard and beach beckon, the sun is up through the evening and most seasonal ingredients taste so good to begin with that you don’t even need to waste time jazzing them up with excess preparation and cooking. Instead, try this lineup of simple entrées that are not only delicious but can all be prepared in 20 minutes or less — just enough time to nourish and recharge before jumping back into summer fun! 

Spicy Shrimp Tacos With Garlic Cilantro Slaw

Spicy Shrimp Tacos With Garlic Cilantro Slaw from Pinch of Yum
Photo courtesy of Pinch of Yum.

Tacos make the perfect summer dinner. Quick-cook your favorite protein, throw on some toppings, wrap it all up in a tortilla and you’re good to go. Lindsay Ostrom’s recipe covers all of your flavor and texture bases with snappy, spiced shrimp, a creamy yet herbaceous slaw and classic Mexican add-ons like lime, smashed avocado and cotija cheese. Get the recipe on Pinch of Yum. 


Gazpacho from Oh She Glows
Photo by Angela Liddon | ohsheglows.com

A good gazpacho can taste transcendent on a scalding-hot summer day. Take it from Angela Liddon. Her version gets a kick from a combination of lime juice and red wine vinegar, helping to highlight all those gorgeous seasonal vegetables. The entire soup is prepared in the blender and takes just 10 minutes from start to finish. Doesn’t get simpler than that! Get the recipe on Oh She Glows.

Baked Dover Sole + Whole Grain Mediterranean Cous Cous

Baked Dover Sole + Whole Grain Mediterranean Cous Cous from The Clever Carrot
Photo by Emilie Raffa | theclevercarrot.com

Don’t let the fancy name deceive you — this dish is foolproof. Emilie Raffa’s light and flaky Dover sole comes to life with a sprinkle of lemon pepper and some fresh lemon slices before a quick roast in the oven. Add a side of cous cous spiked with briny Greek ingredients like olives, sun-dried tomatoes and feta for a dinner match made in heaven. Get the recipe on The Clever Carrot.

Grilled Chicken With Grilled Lemon and Garlic Relish

Grilled Chicken With Grilled Lemon and Garlic Relish from Brooklyn Supper
Photo by Elizabeth Stark.

Grilled chicken can so often be tired and boring. But thanks to a few easy tricks from Elizabeth Stark, this recipe gives new life to the classic with a punchy, smoky relish combining grilled garlic, lemon and loads of fresh herbs. A gorgeous dish that could just as easily be a weeknight dinner or an elegant dinner-party entrée. Get the recipe on Brooklyn Supper. 

One-Pan Pasta

One-Pan Pasta from Lottie + Doof
Photo by Tim Mazurek.

Just when you thought pasta couldn’t get any easier, along comes one-pan pasta. This ingenious recipe, brought to you by Tim Mazurek, cooks spaghetti and all the ingredients for a cherry tomato sauce in the same pan, at the same time, creating a richly concentrated tomato flavor and perfectly al dente pasta. The whole dish cooks in a flash and — bonus — you only have to wash one dish afterwards. Get the recipe on Lottie + Doof. 

Grain Salad With Carrot Ginger Dressing

Grain Salad With Carrot Ginger Dressing from Bon Appetempt
Photo by Matthew Bookman.

There’s nothing like a bright entrée-sized salad to leave you feeling healthy and recharged at the end of the day. Most of the prep for this Grain Salad with Carrot Ginger Dressing involves making the dressing itself, which, according to blogger Amelia Morris, is so good it warrants making an extra-large batch to keep in the fridge during the week. Add a fried egg and your choice of grain on the side and that’s dinner! Get the recipe on Bon Appetempt.

The Best Lentil Salad Ever

The Best Lentil Salad Ever from My New Roots
Photo by Sarah Britton.

Lentils are an ideal vegetarian dinner staple that are as versatile as they are delicious. Sarah Britton’s lentil salad combines petit Du Puy lentils with red onion, currants, capers and a spice-scented vinaigrette, creating a gorgeous combination of flavors and textures. Throw in your choice of add-ins like arugula, walnuts, goat cheese, sprouts or roasted vegetables to take it to the next level. Get the recipe on My New Roots. 

Cous Cous Paella With Sausage and Chicken

Cous Cous Paella With Sausage and Chicken from The Wanderlust Kitchen
Photo courtesy of The Wanderlust Kitchen.

Traditional paella not only requires a lengthy list of ingredients, it also takes hours and hours to prepare. This version comes together in a snap thanks to quick-cooking cous cous, pre-cooked kielbasa sausage and loads of herbs and garlic to give it lots of flavor without added prep time. Get the recipe on The Wanderlust Kitchen.


Maddie LaKind is a personal chef, caterer and writer living in Ravenswood. For more information about her services, visit her website, madonfood.com.

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