By Lynn Andriani
These fuss-free dishes require minimal utensils and hardly any clean-up -- and taste fresh, summery and even better with a cold drink.
Dining out can be one of the most fun aspects of vacation, but it can get expensive and exhausting. Often, by the third or fourth night, we're itching to stay in and cook something easy. When in an unfamiliar kitchen, though, we don't want to experiment. Instead, we rely on tried-and-true crowd pleasers, like this refreshed version of the ubiquitous taco salad, with lean chicken and chopped vegetables piled high on a crispy tortilla. For a shortcut, omit frying the tortillas and serve the chicken salad over large handfuls of good-quality corn tortilla chips.
Get the recipe: Chicken Tostada Salad
Your vacation rental may have a view and even some bare-bones cooking utensils, but a food processor? Not so much. That's why this steak dinner is just right: it has a zippy, herby sauce you can make by just chopping up some parsley with a paring knife (if you're driving to your destination, pack one that comes with its own sheath, such as one of Kuhn Rikon's colorful carbon-steel blades
). And the vegetable hash that goes with the meat is totally versatile: swap in whatever you can find at the local market--cherry tomatoes, corn, zucchini and baby spinach all work well.
Get the recipe: Flank Steak with Chimichurri and Summer Squash Hash
Whipping up a pie crust may sound like an elaborate undertaking after you've spent the day hiking (or snoozing on the beach). But this recipe has a genius shortcut: make the crust out of Ritz or Saltine cracker or tortilla chip crumbs. The rest of the ingredients -- grated cheddar, chopped ham, cottage cheese, onions -- can be found in any supermarket. One more reason this tart makes an ideal vacation supper: leftover slices are excellent for breakfast or lunch and pack well, so you can eat them wherever you are.
Get the recipe: Double Cheese and Ham Quiche
If penne with veggies sounds too much like one of your weeknight dinner standbys, try this stepped-up version on your next getaway; you'll still get the combination of tomatoes plus pasta, but with a delicious salty twist. The dish includes quartered Italian or Greek black olives and about a half of a can of tuna packed in olive oil.
Get the recipe: Penne with Tuna, Plum Tomatoes and Black Olives
This is another meal you can tweak based on whatever you have: if you've got skewers, make kebabs; if not, just grill the chicken breasts whole and slice them after they've cooked. Pile the meat into pita bread and top it with spoonfuls of yogurt-cucumber sauce (any leftover dip is great with raw veggies).
Get the recipe: Chicken Souvlaki with Tzatziki DipNext: Foods you never thought you could grill
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