Vegetarian Column: No-Cook Vegetarian Ideas for the Summer

When it's hot, the thought of turning on the stove can discourage cooking and result in an expensive meal out. Thankfully, no heat needed for a delicious raw meal. Summer is one of the best times to throw a no-cook vegetarian meal together.

If you're balking at the thought of a large green salad, fear not, there's more to it than just arugula, spinach, or raw kale (although those are all delicious with a nice vinaigrette). Summer provides a wealth of vegetables that need only a simple drizzle of olive oil and some sea salt for a healthy, easy meal.

Already, two of the essential no-cook ingredients for summer vegetarian meals are in season: asparagus and zucchini. For years cooks boiled the life out of asparagus, but now light and fresh preparations are the name of the game. Simply slice asparagus thinly on the diagonal or slice with a vegetable peeler for long, thin strips. Raw zucchini tastes best when sliced or shaved into long strips or cut into small cubes. Drizzle with your finest extra-virgin olive oil and vinegar for a zucchini carpaccio or combine both raw asparagus and zucchini in a Green Summer Salad.

In a month or so the real stars of the show will arrive: corn and tomatoes. Of course corn is delicious boiled or grilled and topped with butter and salt and tomatoes make for fantastic sauces, but they are really at their best and most flavorful when eaten raw. Simply slice the corn kernels from the cob with a serrated knife. Toss with cubed tomatoes and torn basil for a simple, raw meal. Try tomatoes beyond just sliced and drizzled with olive oil in a raw tomato gazpacho or tomato and corn salsa.

Of course, no meal is finished with only a pile of delicious, in season vegetables (though it almost is!). For maximum flavor, try adding a hard cheese like Parmesan or Manchego, or a creamy, soft summer cheese like fresh goat cheese or burrata. Sprinkle some texture over the salads in the form of sliced almonds, chopped pistachios, or pomegranate seeds.

Just because it's raw, doesn't mean there can't be dessert! Slice up some fresh summer fruit, and drizzle with milk or another dairy substitute. For extra flavor, try adding a scoop of nut butter or a treat like dulce de leche.

What are your favorite summer no-cook recipes?