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favorite cooling summer foods

With the weather turning hot lately, I've been trying to avoid using the oven as much as possible. That means I've been making lots of cold sesame noodles, gazpacho, and cold sandwiches.

What are some of your favorite summer dishes? Any suggestions?

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  1. Cucumbers are the first that come to mind for a 'cooling' food...I live in SW Florida...so I do NOT want to be turning on the oven for any reason...makes my poor a/c go C-R-A-Z-Y!!!!! And takes a long time to cool down too! I have been using my crockpot (Indonesian chicken) and pressure cooker (short ribs with garlic and port) lately. Do you have a crockpot? Saves time and energy, that's for sure! Depending on your tastes, you can cook some pasta and throw on some broccoli and nuts for a topping...there are so many options out there for cool summer dinners!

    2 Replies
    1. re: Val

      I don't have a crockpot, but your pasta suggestion sounds like a great idea. What do you dress the pasta with?

    2. Tomato/peach gazpacho (with red onions, tarragon and raspberry vinaigrette). Sliced cucumbers with onions and sour cream. Tomato aspic made from heirloom tomatoes. Vichyssoise (sp?) made from potatoes and leeks sourced at a farm. Cold cream of asparagus soup. Cold poached salmon with horseradish/dill cream sauce.

      Our go-to summer drink: Vanilla vodka, placed in a chilled beer mug with no ice, and ginger ale -- stuff tastes just like cream soda -- it's dangerous!

      1. My absolute favourite is Thai green mango salad. So colourful and festive and delightfully refreshing if prepared well!

        5 Replies
        1. re: vorpal

          mmm, i like green papaya salad. a big batch lasts me a few days.

          1. re: hotoynoodle

            Do you have a nice recipe for this Thai salad? I have never had it, but just know I would love it.

            1. re: chef chicklet


              is pretty close, but i used shrimp paste instead of dried shrimp, used some tamarind juice and a generous heap of thai bird chilies. it gets hotter the longer it sits,so be forewarned. too much fish sauce or shrimp paste makes it unappealingly brownish, though.

              this is definitely a wing it kind of dish once you make it a few times. i've also got a local market that sells the green papaya already shredded, which is awesome.

              1. re: hotoynoodle

                Oh thank you!! Everytime I see this salad made on a cooking program, my mouth is watering. I haven't seen green papaya let alone prepared in my local markets, but no biggy, I'll take a trip to Oakland. Thanks for mentioning the dried vs the shrimp paste. I have the dried but have heard the paste is what to use.
                I've never seen a recipe that includes green beans, are they blanched or raw?
                And the tamarind, just soak it in warm water and strain right?
                Sounds delicious, I can't wait to make this! Thanks!

                1. re: chef chicklet

                  i didn't have any green beans so didn't put them in. i did have jicama, so added that and some carrots for even more crunch. i found tamarind concentrate which suits my laziness better than the paste. :) dress to taset for sure, there are alot of variations for this.

                  i got everything at a southeast asian market -- not a regular grocer.

        2. Thick sliced tomatoes, s&p, balsamic vinaigrette and crumbled Stilton. I need some now!

          1. Popsicles, or for the adults in the crowd, frozen soufflees!

            1 Reply
            1. re: Phurstluv

              Mmm-on the same note- I love making Granita- time consuming for sure- but you can mix up the flavors so much...my favorite one was a take that we did a few months ago on a blood orange and black pepper, but pomegranate, blueberry, raspberry....all different kinds out there- soooo tasty-and even possibly good for you :-)

            2. It doesn't involve cooking per se but Persian panir sabzi, an appetizer involving a bunch of fresh herbs like mint and basil, some feta cheese, walnut halves, sumac powder, butter, radishes, green onions etc. - and fresh lavash bread.


              1. Ceviche is delicious and refreshing. I recently made a shrimp ceviche with red onions, cucumber, cilantro, avocado and lime juice.

                Smoothies are wonderful in the summer, too.

                Any fresh fruits and vegetables, salads, etc.

                Requiring a small amount of cooking is pasta salad. But it is also a summer favorite.

                1 Reply
                1. re: alliebear

                  Ceviche is definitely a summer food for me and I can't believe I'd forgotten about it.

                2. Let me begin with the temperature. It was well over 105 degrees. Hot.

                  Since it was still warm at dinner time, and I had left over pineapple chicken breasts with zucchini and grilled pineapple rings from last night, I needed to amp it all up I had left over fresh corn from a couple nights ago just begging to be eaten!
                  What to eat when it's this hot, who wants to cook or grill???

                  One of my favorite salads, is a spicy corn and black bean salad.

                  I used white corn, tiny black beans (canned and rinsed) cilantro, jalapeno, fresh lime juice and scallions sliced nice and thing. I added a little vegetable oil, salt and pepper is all with the lime juice. After a few bites I found that all I wanted for dinner was the salad. I've often made variations of this salad, sometimes mixing other herbs such as mint or basil, red onion, and I love grape tomatoes. But whatever you choose for the salad mixings, this is such a great salad with terrific textures, sweet, salty, hot, crunchy and the beans slightly creamy. I recommend that use a good brand of beans that are tender and small. You can add cumin, it also works really well in this salad.
                  I LOVE this salad. It's great and it's good and cold ( my fave way) or it can be served room temperature as a buffet item.

                  Before dinner I had washed some romaine leaves, cut them to just the right sizet to fill up with salad, for bites. I carefully chilled them( use paper towel over the lettuce first then plastic wrap) for even more crunch. But I found that the salad was just too delicious and didn't use the lettuce, and just ate it with a spoon. The corn is exceptional and it came from my son's garden. The nice thing about this salad, is that it gets better and beter as it hangs out in the fridge.

                  Tomorrow I'm going to cut up whats left of the chicken, mix it with red onion and grilled pineapple, cilantro, and mint. Then make a dressing of sweet hot chili sauce and a dab of mayonnaise mix it up and fill the romaine leaves. Beautiful! Two salads from one meal! Ahhhh summer!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: chef chicklet

                    I'm not much of a salad-as-a-meal type of person, but I can dig this on account of the beans and corn. I may give this a shot this week.

                    1. re: parabolicaer

                      It's all gone.
                      I just want to add, use really nice black beans, the tiny ones, and rinse the juice? off.
                      This is killer. Adding more lime juice and cilantro just brightened it all up.

                      I also made a salad with the grilled chicken, pineapple, zucchini andcilantro, scallion jalapeno dinner. I chopped it all up mixed it with a little mayo, lime juice, more cilanrto, and then wrapped it in the bite size pieces of romaine. Another winner!
                      It's gone too.

                      My hubby is a bid eater, he loves pasta, and the elaborate dinners I'll make. He told me he loved both of these, and could I make these more often? Heck yeah!

                  2. we live in iowa. when it starts to get hot, i start to think of the seasonal choices available. i seldom eat corn, cantaloupe, tomatoes, raspberries or blueberries out of season. in late june, i'll use the oven to make raspberry cobbler, just as i'll happily bake a blueberry buckle this weekend. local melons topped with chopped mint and a water-based, lemon dressing are wonderful--and cooling to boot.

                    i regard same-day sweet corn and sliced, just-picked tomatoes as birthright foods. over the next weeks we'll enjoy them with almost unseemly frequency--steak and corn, bbq chicken and corn, blt's and corn, caprese salad, pasta with shrimp and garden tomatoes, basil/tomato soup--and then blt's and sweet corn again.

                    1. Sometimes even creamy salad dressings seem too heavy for hot weather. I really like to play with my mandoline, so a favorite is to make paper-thin slices of cucumber and/or radish, and salad onion, then marinate in diluted and sweetened white or rice vinegar. It stays crunchy, which makes it a satisfying accompaniment to sandwiches and burgers.

                      Remember that you can reduce kitchen heat by turning off the burner under the pot after the pasta comes to a boil. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/583856
                      Once you've drained the pasta, put some cold water into the pot, cover, and return it to the turned-off burner. Residual heat will go into the water, not the room. Use the hot water for dishwashing, put the hot pot outside to cool and then use water(e.g. for watering plants), or dump it.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: greygarious

                        I do that with cucumber, sometimes I add a drop of toasted sesame oil to the vinegar. It's so easy, and the flavor imparts pretty quickly... not like waiting days for something to pickle.

                      2. We've been having cold chicken salad when it's hot. My SO uses a Mark Bittman recipe where you poach the chicken breast in chicken broth (in the morning when it's cooler or later at night). Makes incredibly moist flavorful cold chicken for salads. Then he adds things like apples, celery, grapes or raisins, toasted nuts or whatever sounds good. Dressed with a mix of mayo and yogurt and curry powder.

                        We also make a cold cucumber soup a lot.

                        Also make a good couscous salad with a lemony dressing and garbanzo beans or black beans and whatever vegies look good.

                        How about corn pancakes (if you don't mind that part of being near a stove) with some lox or smoked salmon.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: karykat

                          The chicken breast is raw when you start the poaching process, right?

                          1. re: karykat

                            Oh karykat, the corn pancakes? What how do you do these, and what do you serve with them? I saw a latka recipe the other day using zucchini, but I think since my corn is coming in ( YES i grew two stalks! and they're loaded!) I would love to do this.

                            I do love good corn, I'd love a recipe. Now if I could find a recipe for the ultra cream decadent, corn and jalapeno pudding.....

                            1. re: chef chicklet

                              I think they're like corn fritters. My mom use to make them, with , I think, creamed corn in the can. Anyway, we didn't eat them with anything.

                          2. Shepherd's Salad
                            Quinoa (1 minute in pressure cooker once up to pressure, then natural pressure release.)

                            1. It isnt very warm in London, but we are enjoying summery foods... Summer rolls are a favorite here. And I also made that Deborah Madison Cucumber and Melon and Mint salad. It is basically cucumber, mint, melon, scallions and some lime zest and juice. So refreshing!