Cold meals on hot days

Summer came upon me quickly. One week there were showers with some warm days sprinkled in. We bought 2 modest box fans to move air around in the bedrooms. The next week it was 97 degrees out and hella humid. We panicked and bought a gigantic "portable" air conditioner.

It kinda looks like a Flight of the Conchords robot to me.

When weather is this hot and oppressive, a major question is: what to cook? I have yet to find a meal that does not involve any heating at all. (OK, I guess one obvious choice would be a salad, but I am not big on salad for dinner.) However I try to cook things in batches or early in the morning, then have everything ready for a cold, refreshing dinner outside under our favorite maple tree in the evening. One recent concoction was a pasta salad with peas and bell pepper, plus grilled-then-chilled chicken.

With tomato season underway now, this dinner is also pretty classic:

fresh mozzarella with tomato slices and pesto on toasted sourdough slices

We have also been drinking lots of lemonade and seltzer and even... WATER to stay hydrated.

If you're in the heat like us, take care of yourself! And also I'd love to know--what are some cold dishes you like to make/eat when it's hot out?


ValleyWriter said...

I'm big on salads (that doesn't help you though!). As long as there's some protein (goat cheese, mozarella or sliced ham or turkey), I think it's filling.

The other thing I take advantage of (even though it doesn't produce cold food) is the crockpot. It puts off very little (if any) heat and it pretty much does all the work. Lately I've been doing ribs or pulled pork and serving it with a side of coleslaw. Quick, easy, delicious!

"Prof. Kitty" said...

Thanks VW, the protein tip is helpful--I can picture a salad becoming yummy if full of meat or cheese! I hadn't really thought of the crockpot as being "not hot," but that makes sense. My mom sent an email with a cold soup recipe, and she mentions crockpots too!

Here's her message:

Especially delicious cold ... but also delicious hot:

Peel 3 long cukes, ca. 8 inches long. Keep out a few paper-thin slices for eventual garnish. Cut the rest into chunks.

In a heavy pan, cook 1/2 c. minced shallots and/or onions in butter for several minutes until tender but not browned. Add the cuke chunks, 6 cups light chicken stock (or substitute a little water if need be), one and a half teaspoons wine vinegar, 3/4 t. dill weed or tarragon. Bring to a boil, then add 4 T quick cooking farina (I always used cous-cous). Simmer partially covered for 20-25 minutes. Puree and return the soup to the pan. Thin out with more liquid if necessary; season carefully with salt and pepper. Stir in 1/2 c. sour cream. Chill. Or, put dollaps of sour cream on each serving. (Or even a dash of milk or cream.) Garnish with cuke slices and add minced fresh dill, tarragon, or parsley. Excellent chilled on a hot day.

Also: instead of cukes, use zucchini but don't peel. Or, I've used cauliflower, adding a little curry to the initial sauteeing of onions. Celery is possible, too, but would then need to be strained after being pureed--too stringy otherwise. Or sometimes I've simply used onions with a touch of curry first.

Also good for not heating up the kitchen: the crockpot.

Alice said...

Chicken salad! silver palate's tarragon one is pretty classic. slather boneless skinless chicken breasts with creme fraiche and bake at 350 for 20-25 mins. Cool a little. cut into chunks or shred. 1/2 cup of mayo + 1/2 cup sour cream, whisk together, add salt and pepper to taste, and 1 Tbsp of dried tarragon. Combine with chicken and add diced or julienned celery and walnuts (optional). Chill for 4 hours. I stuff pita pockets or large tomatoes with it. Or make huge baguette sandwiches with it, layered with fresh veggies from garden. Even my husband who doesn't like "creamy things" will gobble this up.

Anonymous said...

I've found a really good thing in this kind of weather: Chinese Take Out! You don't heat up the kitchen and the only thing you have to make is drinks.

--Troy McClure, tryin' to stay cool when it's so totally HOT.