Can you cook without heating a single thing? Bowl of cereal to the rescue!
Oh, you want to cook cook? And end up with an actual meal? Good news: You can do that, too. (Just don’t judge me on the rare nights when I do eat a bowl of cereal for dinner.)
Especially in the summer, the desire to keep your kitchen and yourself cool is very real. Consider these tips for putting together a meal without turning up the heat.
Go raw. Yes, of course, giant piles of fruit and vegetables in a salad are a glorious summertime meal. But don’t forget about the ways you can enjoy seafood and meat without cooking. Follow the lead of South America and make ceviche, which cures raw fish with citrus juice. Or do as Hawaii does, and enjoy some poke. You can even develop your own specialty and cure fish with your choice of flavorings. Sushi is, of course, another option. As far as meat goes, a beef carpaccio (or its close relative, carne cruda) is always in style. Ditto steak tartare and Ethiopian kitfo.
Let someone else do the prep for you. Rotisserie chickens are one of the most versatile store-bought ingredients out there. (They often are close in price to a whole raw chicken.) Along the same lines, consider oil-packed tuna or anchovies. A can of beans is a great, not to mention inexpensive, shortcut. And it doesn’t get much simpler than purchasing deli meat for a sandwich or wrap. Tofu is ready to be eaten straight out of the package if you so choose.
Be smooth. Your blender and food processor are two of the best tools for easy, no-cook dishes in the summer. Gazpacho and other cold soups will never cease to be refreshing. Whip up a hummus or other dip for a light meal. Prefer a smoothie for breakfast or lunch? Go for it.
Package small bites into a satisfying spread. I’m a huge fan of noshing my way through lunch or dinner. Whether it’s just for you or a large crowd, a well-stocked collection of cheese, charcuterie and suitable accompaniments (crackers, dried fruit, olives, etc.) can be fun and filling. Snag inspiration from the Mediterranean with a mezze spread of hummus, tzatziki, pitas, jarred roasted red peppers, crudités and more.
Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke. Serve the fish with greens or on its own if you don’t want to cook rice or other grains.
Flounder Crudo With Marinated Summer Vegetables. Thinly sliced fish and vegetables cure and marinate in no time.
Almond Gazpacho With Cherries and Flowers. Never did almonds and old bread look so elegant. Fresh fruit, flowers and greens make this one really pop.
Cold Mango and Rum Soup, in the composite, above. This makes a nice appetizer, but it may also be just the thing for lunch on a sweltering weekend afternoon.
Curried Chickpea Salad Sandwiches. Here’s a perfect example of how to make the most of canned chickpeas.
Tomato, Pesto and Ricotta Sandwiches, in the composite, above. I’m all in favor of a simple tomato sandwich, but I’m also in favor of a few easy additions to turn it really luxurious.
Tangy Tuna in Spicy Sauce. This is not your typical mayo-heavy tuna salad. Instead, the fish is tossed with a dressing that includes lemon juice and Sriracha.
Chicken Curry Salad, in the composite, above. There’s hardly a better use for a rotisserie chicken. Most of the work here involves pulling the meat off the bones, but that only takes a few minutes.
Tomato, Nectarine and Burrata Salad. Think Caprese, but with creamy burrata and store-bought salsa verde.
Zucchini Noodle Salad. Thinly cutting the zucchini and salting it means you don’t need to cook the vegetable to achieve good flavor and texture.
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