Thursday, August 25, 2022

No-cook dinner ideas

Back-to-school season and the return of fall activities is very chaotic for many families. The last thing on your mind is what to make for dinner. That’s why I love no-cook meals. They don’t require planning, and you don’t have to heat your oven.

The first no-cook dinner I’m sharing is chicken souvlaki. This is less of a recipe and more of a concept, so ingredient measurements aren’t exact. The main ingredients are pita bread, chicken, and tzatziki and/or hummus. I like to always have Trader Joe’s Fully Cooked Lightly Seasoned Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts in my refrigerator, and I just warm them up in the microwave. But you could also use rotisserie chicken, canned chicken, or any other pre-cooked chicken. There are numerous toppings you can add, like lettuce, red onion, cucumbers, tomatoes, feta cheese, and olives. I like to set all the ingredients out and have everyone build their own pita.

Chicken souvlaki pitas


  • Pita bread
  • Cooked chicken 
  • Tzatziki and/or hummus
  • For serving: lettuce, red onion, cucumbers, tomatoes, feta cheese, olives


  1. Warm up pita bread and chicken in microwave.
  2. Spread generous amount of tzatziki and/or hummus on pita bread and top with several pieces of chicken and desired toppings.
  3. Serve immediately.

Another great no-cook dinner option, especially for anyone tired of chicken, is a spicy salmon rice bowl. I first made something similar to this with tuna last year. I posted a video of it to TikTok, and it went viral, accumulating over 1.6 million views! You can use smoked or canned salmon for your protein (I like Trader Joe's Wild Sockeye Smoked Salmon Ends & Pieces) and frozen microwave rice for you starch to keep in the spirit of no-cook meals. I also like to add cucumber, carrots, avocado, and green onion to my rice bowl. I top it all off with spicy mayo and furikake seasoning. I purchased my furikake seasoning at Trader Joe’s, but if you can’t find it in store, you can order it on Amazon or substitute with nori.

And if you want something a little extra with your meal, edamame makes a great side dish. Just like with the chicken souvlaki pitas, this is less of a recipe and more of a concept, so I’m not going to put exact amounts in my ingredients list.

Spicy salmon rice bowl


For the spicy mayo

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoons sriracha
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce or coconut aminos
  • 1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar

For the bowl

  • Frozen rice
  • Smoked salmon, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Persian cucumbers, sliced thin
  • Shredded carrots
  • Avocado
  • Scallions, both white and green parts
  • Furikake seasoning


For the spicy mayo

  1. Mix mayonnaise, sriracha, soy sauce, and rice wine vinegar. Sauce should be thin enough to drizzle. Set aside.

For the bowl

  1. Heat frozen rice in microwave. Place in bowl.
  2. Top with salmon, cucumbers, carrots, avocado, green onion, and furikake seasoning.
  3. Drizzle spicy mayo over bowl and serve.

The last no-cook dinner option I’m sharing today is a pasta dish. You may wonder how I can have a no-cook dinner with pasta. The answer is hearts of palm pasta! I purchase my hearts of palm pasta from Trader Joe’s, but I’ve seen other brands like Palmini and Pasta Zero at other local grocery stores. Unlike other pasta substitutes, hearts of palm pasta has a texture very similar to regular pasta, and I like that you can heat it up in the microwave. For this recipe, I like to use canned tuna for protein, but you could also use chicken, salmon, or omit the protein.

Hearts of palm pasta with warm lemon vinaigrette


For the vinaigrette

  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 anchovy fillets, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

For the pasta

  1. Hearts of palm pasta
  2. Canned tuna, drained
  3. Capers, drained
  4. Panko bread crumbs
  5. 1 cup fresh herbs (any combination of parsley, mint, scallion greens, basil), torn


For the vinaigrette

  1. Smash together garlic, anchovies, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and lemon zest to form a paste. 
  2. Whisk in lemon juice, dijon mustard, and honey.
  3. Slowly pour in extra virgin olive oil while constantly whisking to emulsify ingredients.
  4. Set aside.

For the pasta

  1. Heat pasta in microwave according to package directions. 
  2. Add tuna, capers, and panko.
  3. Drizzle vinaigrette over warm pasta and toss to coat. 
  4. Garnish with fresh herbs and serve.


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