What to cook in August, also known as “Heat Wave Cooking”

Hey friend, how are you keeping up in this heat? For many of us, August has provided soaring temps that have made turning on the stove seriously unappealing. But there is great news for August meal planning! We just so happen to be entering prime time for the very seasonal produce that late summer is famous for. Fig and stone fruits are sun-ripened and ready. Eggplant and zucchini are at their peak. We are talking very seasonal ingredients that taste of summer. When deciding what to make in August, I might suggest heading to the farmers market and jumping on the bounty while it’s hot.

Of course, the best recipes for August must also be easy. For those of us with children, we enter the back-to-school juggling act, then simple dinners which can be quickly assembled and enjoyed is top priority – we’re talking minimum effort, maximum reward. Everything on my August list checks the box for simplicity, which I have a feeling you’ll appreciate even if you’re still in full summer vacation mode.

Let me know what you’re up to this month – I love being inspired by what you do. And if you post it, tag us Instagram…we might just have to share. Scroll on for 14 delicious ideas for what to cook in August, then add a very cold drink and a great playlist to enjoy this month to the fullest.

image above: Belathée photography for ours dinner party with Mariana Velasquez

Refreshing salads to make in August

‘Tis the season for no-cook salads that can be tossed together with bright, summery fruits and vegetables. It’s all in the mix: crunchy, salty, creamy and sweet combine to create a salad that will linger in your memory. These are my favorites to make this month.

Watermelon Chopped Greek Salad

One of my favorite lunch spots on the planet, Malibu Farm, has a Greek salad on the menu, served on top of a thick wedge of juicy watermelon. It’s a surprising presentation that’s as beautiful as it is delicious—it turns out that sweet watermelon is the perfect foil for the salty olives, salty feta, and summery tomatoes that make up a more traditional Greek salad recipe. This is mine chopped version, and I dare say it’s even a little (slightly) better than the original.

Burrata with figs and pesto

Here’s what you need to know about this dish: It only has 4 ingredients and that’s it insanely delicious. Make it when figs are really ripe and sweet, as they play such a major role in this dish.

Cumin chickpea salad with mint chutney

Make a big batch of this on Sunday and treat yourself to delicious lunches all week. Satisfying texture, filling proteinand a colorful mix of vegetables to help you meet your daily quota. And when it comes to taste, this chickpea salad – starring mint chutney – might just be the tastiest salad you’ve ever had.

Easy dinners to cook in August

Keeping it simple in the kitchen doesn’t have to mean boring – high-quality ingredients treated with a little care can shine brightly this time of year. You’ll notice a flatbread and pizza theme in my August dinner series. It’s a perfect palette for an unexpected mix of summery toppings.

Eggplant and Ricotta Flatbread Pizza

You know I’m always experimenting with new pizza recipes and this one is the ultimate in quick assembly, very little cooking and big reward on the taste scale. It’s also loaded with vegetables plus a hearty boost of protein in the form of ricotta, making it a summer dish that feels as good as it tastes.

Peach, Pesto and Balsamic Pizza

Summer on a crust! This month is the perfect time to experiment with unexpected flavors and add an unexpected twist to old favorites. And nothing is a more perfect canvas for highlighting seasonal ingredients and flavor nuances than pizza. I dare you to try it with ripe peaches, basil pesto and a drizzle of sweet balsamic – you can thank me later.

Roasted salmon with spicy cucumber-orange salsa

The spicy, citrusy and slightly sweet salsa elevates a simple, healthy baked salmon. Dill and jalapeño give it a kick, while the orange peel makes it taste like summer. This one is 100% doable for a weeknight dinner, and it’s also the easiest summer dinner recipe to date.

Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Galette

This heirloom tomato and burrata galette is the perfect simple summer dish to share at any gathering. Set it out as the centerpiece of a menu of small dishes, or serve as a main course for an alfresco lunch. Just make sure you do it during tomato season, because here they are the stars of the show.

What to cook in August – on the grill

When it’s too hot to turn on the oven, I turn on the grill. These dishes boast that delicious char and score bonus points for no pots and pans to clean at the end.

Grilled Zucchini with Chile Mint Vinaigrette

This delicious way to serve zucchini is a complement to chef Valerie Rice. She says, “This recipe is just as delicious with whatever squash you have on hand. I like to plant a variety, my favorites are the gray zucchini and Romanesco squash because they have an earthy flavor and creamier texture when being prepared.” Serve it as a starter or side dish – or devour the whole dish yourself and call it dinner.

Mahi Mahi with black olive vinaigrette

Mahi Mahi is a firm, lean white fish with a flaky, mild flavor similar to halibut that really shines when dressed up with a squeeze of lemon or other complementary flavors. The magic of this recipe is all in the dual mood of the black olive vinaigrette and the bright citrus sauce. Both are super simple, come together in no time and are beyond doubt, worth it. Plus, you’ll want extra on hand to sprinkle over, well, just about anything.

Caramelized onion and prosciutto grilled pizza

Sweet, caramelized onions simmering for a full hour are the secret behind this incredible pizza. Just add creamy mozzarella, salty prosciutto, light arugula, and you’ve got it char. I explain precisely how to grill the perfect pizza here (but you can also bake it in the oven if that’s more your style.)

Orange-chili glazed pork tenderloin with carrot pesto

I’ve been making this dish for years – it’s a simple but impressive dinner to throw on the grill if you have people over. The carrot pesto sounds unusual, but trust me: with the sweet-spicy charred taste, you’ll want to eat it with a spoon.

Cool desserts to make in August

A chilled, no-bake dessert always wins points, but these shortcakes are worth firing up the oven for, especially piled high with whipped cream and berries.

No-Bake Mango and Cardamom Icebox Cake

Similar to a trifle, a freezer box cake involves putting together some kind of cream, cookies, and filling that are put together in the refrigerator. The result is a layered dessert that looks like a layer cake when sliced. Except, no baking is required! The layers in this special freezer box cake are as follows: mango puree, cardamom cream, biscuits and salty pistachio crumble. It’s a must this month.

Vegan and gluten-free strawberry shortcakes

By combining gluten-free flour with just a handful of basic ingredients, this shortcake recipe produced biscuits that were crispy and browned on the outside while remaining delightfully light on the inside. They contain just a touch of sweetness and are a good vessel for whipped cream and sweet summer berries. Believe it or not, this gluten-free strawberry shortcake is also dairy-free, nut-free (other than coconut), and egg-free. Everyone is happy.

Summer fruit Fools

This comes together in less than 15 minutes, and you can whip it up in advance and have it hanging in the fridge well before the guests arrive. If you’re new to the world of fruit trick recipes, don’t let the name put you off – it’ll win you over in one delicious bite.

Do you have more ideas for what to cook in August? Drop them in the comments so I can add it to my list.

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