Last week, the hubby and I devised a dinner menu to help us combat the brutal, soul-crushingly high temperatures. Or at least to avoid heating up the kitchen too much, if at all, while making dinner. I see that my colleague Jyl Benson had a similar idea, so be sure to check out this week’s “Side Dish” for her suggestions. We challenged ourselves to do it again this week, so I thought I’d share the highlights of our experiments. It’s a lot easier to deal with dinner when you know the room isn’t going to become unbearable. Bonus: There is a lot less prep for these dishes as well.
Note: The first three options are no-cook and the final two are low-cook.
- Tomato sandos are one of my summer staples. In fact, I probably eat them way too much and end up costing myself a greater diversity of nutrients in any given week, but I can’t help it. Tomato season is fleeting, and I want to take as much advantage of it as possible. Keep it simple with chewy, whole grain bread (I use Dave’s Bread), Duke’s or Blue Plate mayo (or your favorite, but I prefer Duke’s, personally) and a sliced homegrown tomato or one from the farmer’s market. (A good alternative if neither is available to you is a pack of Campari tomatoes. I normally do not condone grocery store tomatoes, but Camparis are the exception. They are sweet and delicious. Just be sure to get them from a store that doesn’t refrigerate the tomatoes, because they get mushy and mealy when stored cold.) I add salt and pepper and call it a day, but you may want to fancy it up with avocados, basil, spinach or whatever else sounds good to you. Serve with pickled things, a salad, cold soup or whatever else floats your boat.
- Speaking of cold soup, our hands down favorite meal the past two weeks was Chef Donald Link’s gazpacho with crabmeat salad, which Jyl shared in the current issue of New Orleans Magazine in her “Nosh” column. Let me tell you it is the most flavorful and hearty gazpacho you’ll ever eat. Fennel bulb, watermelon and mint add complexity, while the crabmeat salad bulks up the traditionally light gazpacho. We took Jyl’s advice and subbed shrimp for crab (because crabmeat is elevanty billion dollars a pound these days, sheesh). Make if vegetarian with avocado, also per Jyl. My husband isn’t really a lover of gazpacho, but he is now a convert. I forgot to grab bread to have with it, but honestly, we ended up not needing it. I’m going to serve this the next time we have friends over for dinner and it definitely will enter our regular rotation.
- There’s nothing more fun or satisfying than a cheese and charcuterie board. We made ours with gouda, cheddar, an assortment of nuts, mortadella, crudités and a French baguette, but you do you! Add whatever your heart desires. Add chilled shrimp cocktail! Get some pâté! Make it vegan with plant-based alternatives! The world is your cheese board!
- Get two meals out of one with a couple of pounds of ground turkey meat, beef or your fave plant-based alternative. Have burgers on night one. I topped mine with goat cheese, onions and spinach, but again, make it your own. We had a cold potato salad. Boiling the potatoes didn’t heat up the kitchen too much at all. Cook all of the meat/meat alternative in burger form while you are making that evening’s portions and put what you don’t use in a container in the fridge.
- The next night, crumble the burgers into a skillet and season with chili powder, garlic, crushed red pepper, cumin or your favorite taco seasoning packet and voila — taco night! All you have to do is heat up corn or flour tortillas and top with your preferred toppings.
Bonus idea: Caprese salad with French bread, olives and pickles. We eat this about twice a week and I have no regrets.
What are your go-to, no- or low- cook meals? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to share!