To me, summertime meals should be about ‘do-nothing’ recipes that require (mostly) farmers market and/or backyard garden finds. The following dishes require ‘no-cooking’ at all – yup, that’s right, no need to turn the oven or stove top on!! Bonus: even if you consider yourself a disaster in the kitchen – I guarantee you’ll be able to recreate these flavourful, fresh and oh-so-summery recipes with ease. Cheers to warm weather eating and ‘do-nothing’ recipes!!

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Arugula & Melon Salad with Honey Jalapeno Dressing 

I absolutely love this salad. Simple, delicious, nutritious and a perfect side to a rich burger off the grill.


1 tbsp (15 mL) liquid honey

2 tsp (10 mL) balsamic or cider vinegar

1 tsp (5 mL) Dijon mustard

2 tsp (10 mL) finely diced jalapeno pepper (seeds removed *flesh only) *note: I highly recommend wearing gloves when chopping jalapeno – the heat can stay on your bare hands even after washing. Be cautious when rubbing eyes and/or nose. Alternatively, you can use 1/4 tsp (1 mL) chili flakes.

1 clove garlic, minced

hefty pich salt and pepper

2 tsp (10 mL) quality olive oil


6 cups (1.5 L) lightly packed arugula leaves 

½ cantaloupe, peeled, seeds removed and chopped in cubes

Whisk together dressing ingredients and toss with arugula and cantaloupe. Place on a platter and serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8 as a side dish.  

Tip: ~ Use chopped pineapple instead of cantaloupe

~ feeling adventurous? Toss slices of cantaloupe (or pineapple ) with a bit of olive oil and grill for a few minutes per side. Chop into chunks and add to salad.  

Char’s Spicy Lentil Dip 

I always have canned beans and lentils on hand. Simply drain, rinse and add to a variety of dishes (like soups or salads) for a dose of economical plant protein and fibre. If you love spice and dips as much as my gang does – this is the dip for you! Enjoy!     

1 (540 mL) can lentils, drained and rinsed

⅓ cup (75 mL) tahini

finely grated zest and juice of one lemon

½ tsp (2 mL) chili flakes

½ tsp (2 mL) salt

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ cup (60 mL) quality olive oil

1 tbsp (15 mL) water

½ cup (125 mL) chopped fresh parsley

Garnish: sesame seeds, chopped fresh mint and parsley, chili flakes and quality olive oil

Place lentils in a bowl of food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse until roughly chopped. Add remaining ingredients (except for parsley) and pulse until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl when needed. Add chopped parsley and pulse until just combined. Spread on a platter (or place in a serving bowl) and garnish with sesame seeds, mint, parsley, chili flakes and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve with veggies and flatbreads.  Makes about 1 ¾ cups (425 mL).

Tip: ~ have a variety of leftover herbs kicking around? Add to dip when pulsing in parsley. Dill,  basil, mint and chives all lend themselves well to this dip.

~  spread about 3 tbsp (45 mL) of dip on a whole wheat 6-inch pita. Top with sliced tomatoes, chopped fresh basil and drizzle of olive oil and fresh cracked pepper for an alfresco style ‘pizza’.  

Strawberry Ginger Icebox Cake 

Simple and absolutely delicious!! Not a fan of ginger? No problem!! Use roughly crushed vanilla wafers, or crushed biscotti instead.

3 cups (750 mL) finely chopped fresh Ontario Strawberries

finely grated zest and juice of one lemon

2 1/4 cups (560 mL) 35% whipping cream

Seeds of ½ vanilla bean (or 2 tsp (10 mL)) vanilla extract

2 tsp (10 mL) coconut extract *optional

½ cup (125 mL) icing sugar

1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt

3 cups (750 mL) roughly crushed gingersnap cookies (ideally the thin cookies)

½ cup (125 mL) toasted coconut flakes 

Line the bottom of a 9-inch round springform pan with parchment paper. 

Stir together strawberries and lemon zest and juice.  

In a large mixing bowl whip together cream, extracts, icing sugar and salt until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in strawberry mixture. 

Using the back of a spoon spread about one third of the cream/strawberry mixture evenly on the bottom of the pan. Scatter approx 1 cup (250 mL) of crushed gingersnap cookies over cream mixture. Repeat layers two more times finishing with crushed gingersnap cookies on top. Sprinkle evenly with toasted coconut. Using your hand, lightly press cookie crumbs/coconut flakes down. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at  least 6 hours (ideally overnight), or up to two days. Makes 10 servings.  


Charmaine is the host of “In Char’s Kitchen” on YourTV Muskoka and regular guest on: Rogers IN StudioRogers Daytime OttawaCTV Morning Live OttawaCHCH Morning Live and Breakfast Television sharing her love and enthusiasm for all things food, cooking and fitness.

Most importantly; Charmaine is the mother of two active boys; Tyler & Colgan.

Charmaine understands the importance of preparing healthy, wholesome dishes all while keeping budget and time in mind.

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