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An Easy Summer Dinner for When It's Just Too Hot to Cook

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by guest blogger Stephanie Eckelkamp, senior associate editor at Prevention magazine

Most summers, I actually find the thought of cooking kind of nauseating--the kitchen of a brick house built in 1925 with no air conditioning is not a happy place. And roasted veggies, normally a dietary staple, have now been figuratively packed up and thrown in the attic until at least mid-October.

So, what do I make? Because sweat isn't my favorite seasoning, I aim to cook outside on the grill (or not at all) whenever possible. So naturally, some combo of raw spiralized veggies and grilled meat usually does the trick.

Lately, I've been obsessed with this light-but-satisfying mix of raw zucchini noodles, sweet and salty sun dried tomatoes, and perfectly seasoned grilled chicken, all tossed in a rich and nutty basil pesto. It's overflowing with fresh summer flavor and nutrients, and is pretty darn easy to make. And if you really have no time, go ahead and sub the homemade grilled chicken for some quality pre-made grilled chicken strips, or a sliced up portion of an organic rotisserie chicken.

I'm not judging--at least when it's this hot out.

"Zoodles" with Grilled Chicken & Basil-Walnut Pesto
Serves 2

Ingredients:
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 med zucchinis
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, sliced or chopped
  • 4-6 Tbsp basil-walnut pesto*
Directions:
  1. Season or marinate chicken as desired. Coat a grill (or grill pan) lightly with cooking spray and heat to medium-high. Grill chicken until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board and slice into strips.
  2. Spiralize your zucchinis (if you don't have a spiralizer, use a julienne peeler or vegetable peeler). Transfer zucchini noodles (a.k.a. zoodles) to a large bowl along with sun-dried tomatoes and pesto. Toss to coat.
  3. Divide zoodles between two plates and top with sliced grilled chicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste. BAM! You're done!
*To make basil-walnut pesto: Combine 2 cups loosely packed basil leaves; 3 cloves garlic, minced; 1/2 cup chopped walnuts; 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil in a food processor and puree until smooth. Tweak ingredient ratios (and add salt and pepper) as needed until your tastebuds are happy.

Stephanie Eckelkamp is a senior associate editor covering food and nutrition at Prevention magazine and is also a certified holistic-health coach. She's obsessed with her pup, Milo, and loves to get a little crazy in the kitchen. For more from Stephanie, visit StephEckelkamp.com.

For more from Maria Rodale, visit www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com