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too hot to cook

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We are experiencing a heat wave. I know for those of you used to high temperatures we are wilting out here!! Does anyone have easy, tasty ideas for lunches and dinner when it's too hot to cook. I'm getting tired of lettuce.

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  1. Do you have a grill? Grilling outdoors is a great way to keep the heat outside and keep your house cool.

    If you have a cast iron pan and/or grill pan, you can cook just about anything on an outdoor grill that you'd make on a stovetop or in an oven.

    4 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      Funny, but IMO it's been much too hot here in Pasadena to grill out - MUCH cooler in the house! And since my oven is on the wall instead of down by my knees, all that heat goes up to the ceiling (so all I have to do is stay off the ceiling, and I'm OK!). Therefore what I have been doing is as much all-in-the-oven cooking as possible, including another amazing dish from that cookbook I've been exploring, a whole chicken with potato wedges and red onion, all doused with a mustard/lemon vinaigrette marinade and baked for a couple of hours. I've also been pan-frying or pan-broiling a LOT of fish to have with just a salad.

      1. re: Will Owen


        Fair enough, but I usually do the dash-in, dash-out method when I grill outside during the summer heat.

        1. re: ipsedixit

          See, ipse, if I can't stand there with a glass of wine, lifting the lid between throwing the ball for the dog, it just ain't worth it. I gotta be out there 'cause it feels GOOD to be out there... The exception was last Saturday when I was grilling a dozen Italian sausages to serve with onions and peppers at a party the next day. Grilling them first works so much better than pan-frying, so there I was at the height of a SoCal afternoon...

      2. re: ipsedixit

        When Hurricane Isabel knocked our power out for 9 days, I learnt how to use my grill for everything, including baking. My grill has a side burner which was great for boiling water to use for making coffee in the French press. Then I figured out I could use my Pampered Chef pizza stone to bake in my grill. I put the stone on one side of the grill with the burners off (or on very low) and fired up the other side. I made biscuits and cinnamon rolls for breakfast. I made pizzas, calzones, rolls, etc. on that pizza stone. I had some frozen pies that were going to go bad, so I tried baking them on the grill and it worked!

      3. Some favorite hot (as in grossly hot and humid) weather food requiring no, or minimal, cooking.

        1. Vichysoisse. Not like you're simmering soup for hours, heating up the kitchen. Make enough for more than one meal.

        2. Gazpacho

        3. Sliced avocado, spritzed with fresh lime juice and some black pepper.

        4. BLTs, with fresh local tomatoes. BLTs are only great for a few weeks out of the year. Now's the time to over-indulge.

        5. What I had for dinner tonight. Fresh local peaches and fresh local blueberries, "dressed" with chopped fresh mint from my herb garden. Yogurt on the side, because these Georgia Belle peaches are just too good on their own to coat with yogurt, or anything.

        6. Grilled anything or everything. Meats, fish, vegetables. (I think grilled corn-on-the-cob beats the cook-in-water standard hands down.) It's cooking, but quick and you're keeping that heat outside.

        7. Pasta, with a "sauce" of fresh tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, and olive oil. Pepper flakes, if you like a bit of heat. The only thing you cook is the pasta.

        8. Homemade pimento cheese sandwiches.

        9. Hummus and pita or pita chips.

        I'll do other things, but these are my long-time hot weather "Go Tos" that never disappoint.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Old Spice

          You are too right about local tomatoes! We devour them in the summer. The other night for a quick dinner I made quesadillas with diced fresh tomatoes, avocado, onion and shredded jack cheese. They were simple but divine. Nothing beats fresh, simple tomato sauce for spaghetti either, IMO. Plenty of fresh basil too! Try egg salad sandwiches on toast with pesto too.

          1. re: Old Spice

            #7 is one of my favorites. I put all that plus some grated Parm in a bowl, dump the cooked pasta which melts the cheese and dinner is served.

            I like yellow crookneck squash, sliced in half lengthwise, brush with olive oil and grill.

          2. Ipsedixit is right...your grill is your friend...with all the veggies in abundance, they are SOOO good grilled. Also...don't forget your crockpot! You can bake potatoes in it without heating up the kitchen...I buy 4 baking potatoes, prick with a fork, stand them on end, close lid and put on LOW for about 5 or 6 hours (time will vary with your crockpot...mine is an oldie but goodie from the late 70's). Some people just put them in the microwave but I don't like how they come out which is will little burnt/dry spots and texture is all weird, to me. We eat lighter in the summer, so 4 bakers last us for the week since we eat 1/2 at a time...pair it up with grilled veggies, and you have a very nice meal!

            3 Replies
            1. re: Val

              Baked potatoes in the crockpot?! Wow, never thought to do it that way. How do you get them to stand on end? I take it yours is round. Mine's oval, probably wouldn't work. If they don't stand on end, do they overcook?

              1. re: Phurstluv

                No, I think you could totally do this just laying them down...some people wrap them in foil, but what a waste...not needed, I've found. You don't add water or anything. I'd been jonesing for a baked potato and swore I was NOT turning on that oven with the heat down here in SWFL...I googled it on the 'net and found a bunch of people who had done it successfully so I tried it without the foil and was so pleased! And, yes, my CP is the old-school round Rival, not oval.

                1. re: Val

                  Baked potatoes in a Crock Pot is a swim meet staple around here. For swim meet use, we always wrap in foil because we're keeping them hot for the entire day, and it's just easier to serve them when they are wrapped. The kids unwrap them and fill them up with butter, cheese and sometimes chili/cheese. I have a 7-qt cooker and I can fit about 10-12 good-sized spuds in it. At the meets, we keep adding uncooked potatoes as the cooked ones are used - it only takes a couple hours on high to cook. Swim meets start early and go quite late.

            2. Last night I grabbed a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket. Made salads with chicken (baby spinach, avocado, goat cheese, soy beans, radishes). Tonight I'll make chicken quesadillas with black beans. It means putting the stove on for a little while, but I cook them slowly on low heat.

              2 Replies
              1. re: CurlieGlamourGirlie

                I too find those rotisserie chix to help on nights I don't want to cook, you can do a million things with it. I love an asian salad with cabbage, nuts, raisins, chx, roasted ramen noodles and a sweet dressing (rice vinegar, oil, sugar).

                Or just a rollup, or pulled chicken tacos.

                1. I like to use my toaster oven in summer.

                  Also try cold tofu with sesame oil, green onions, soy sauce, fried shallots and Sriracha or chili flakes.

                  1. We make a lot of couscous in the summer. Just have to get the water boiling once, then shut it off. And I love flavoring it with lemon juice and serving with fish or seafood.

                    Another great thing to get is a grill-roast pan, I got mine from W-S, <$30, I think (it was a gift). Then you can use it on your grill to make all kinds of things that would normally fall through the grates, or have to be skewered. Like sugar snap peas, corn off the cob, small tomatoes, mushrooms, shrimp & scallops.

                    I also make a lot of fresh fruit salads. Tuna, crab & chicken salads. Cucumber & tomato salads. Stuff tomatoes & avocados. Use cucumber & zucchini slices or jicama spears with your favorite dips.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Phurstluv

                      Couscous is a great idea. If you are only cooking a few ears of corn on the cob you can wrap them in plastic wrap and microwave. I like to do some food prep in the morning before before the day gets warm (we live in NH so nights are usually cool). Three bean salad can be put together without cooking if you use canned beans. Sometimes we have shrimp cocktail. Other times I cook up enough to have leftovers of fresh veggies. Last night I had the oven on for 25 minutes, oven roasting zukes etc. Tonight I'll just re-heat in the microwave. I recently found an oriental noodle salad recipe with a great dressing. Noodles are mixed with napa cabbage, red cabbage, etc and chopped cilantro. The dressing was supposed to keep for 3 days. For my bag lunches I put salad dressing in the bottom of my plastic container and put salad ingredients on top. Usually I put sliced onions and broccoli in first so they can sit in the dressing. My salad stays crisp in the frig until lunch at work.
                      I also use the stove exhaust fan while cooking to suck some of the heat out. Tonight grilled stead with reheated oven roasted veggies and fresh green beans from the garden. If they don't get picked (it's raining) I have some leftover beans I can toss with french dressing, sliced onion and cherry tomatoes. Cold watermelon is refreshing on a hot day.

                      1. re: greygarious

                        I eat Japanese food-
                        cold soba noodle or cold somen noodles served with chilled broth and kamaboko. Garnish with green onion and wasabi. Receipes are on the web.

                        1. re: greygarious

                          I'm going to pick up a gently used waffle maker this morning for $5!!! Eggplant is on sale at Publix...will love my waffle-cooked eggplant tonight, I'm sure!

                          1. re: Val

                            Val, please forgive me....are you really going to cook an eggplant in a waffle? If so, I would like to know how to do that. So many neat ideas on this site...just learned how to bake a potatoe in a crock pot....now eggplant in a waffle iron....WOW....talk about thinking out of the box.

                            1. re: cstout

                              i imagine she's going to slice it and press the slices in the waffle iron - you'd be amazed at what you can do in those things! you should check out the Waffleizer blog for ideas & inspiration...

                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                My goodness, I do not even own a waffle iron & now you all are telling me you are doing all these things in waffle irons??? Well, I want to run out & get one Right Now!!!! I think I just crawled out of a hole into a world of new ideas. What is a good brand? This waffleizer thing is going to be great....bye for now...I want to learn all about waffleizing. Makes me wonder what else you can do in there, or what else people do in their crockpots. Oh my...this is just something else...so new to me...thanks all you wonderful hounds for sharing...I bow down to all the great ideas you come up with.

                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                    Again, thanks for sharing. I really enjoyed that web site.

                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                  @cstout, yes, I've cooked the eggplant in the waffle iron...sliced just like ghg says...works pretty well...I wouldn't want to cook TWO eggplant this way...takes too long, but for l'il ole me, works fine. NOT turning on my oven in SWFL during the summer is the way to go for us!

                          2. Shepherd's salad or
                            red bell peppers and snow peas with hummus and Mary's Gone Crackers or TJ's hemp tortilla chips

                            1. Tomato/zucchini gratin in the toaster oven. Layer tomato and zucchini, drizzle olive oil and grated parm on top, bake. Some people put sauteed onion/garlic on top but that's using stove. Yummy. Maybe boil some frozen shrimp for protein.

                              1. It's hot and humid here for about 9 out of 12 months. We never put the grills and smoker away, they're used year-round. But we don't change our cooking styles that much from so-called season to season - exception: using what's in season. But if I didn't make soups and stews and other heartier things year-round, I'd feel deprived. So I try to use the oven as little as possible during the hottest months, but otherwise, no changes. Pay for the darn a/c and pray for cooler weather!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: bayoucook

                                  Bayoucook is on the MS Gulf Coast and I grew up in NOLA - and many of those years were BEFORE air-conditioning!!!
                                  People in the Deep South cooked year round, but we did it in the morning, before the day heated up. Then the kitchen was "closed."
                                  Of course, before they invented "food safety," the food was often left on the stove for noontime "dinner" and leftovers might be served for a light "supper."
                                  Anytime the oven was used, food was placed in it and the cook left. "If you can't stand the heat..."
                                  Southern cooks cheered in unison when the Radarange hit the market.
                                  We didn't much change what we ate except for, as bayoucook says, it was totally seasonal and local. Lots more fresh vegetables in summer and, of course, the fish, crabs, and shrimp we were catching. Seafood Gumbo is still a Summer Gumbo to me and I rarely make it in Winter.

                                  Even after air-conditioning and moving North, it was years before I stopped cooking in the morning on a regular basis during the Summertime. I still do it a few times a week.

                                2. I use my oven at 6am, while it's still cool. Then when I come home from work, heat up in the microwave. It's kind of the best of both worlds.. lol!

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: mcel215

                                    Since this thread is over three years old, I'll update my answer. I do quick stir fry's too with leftover meat/shrimp from the fridge. Use veggies that cook quickly and voila, in and out of the kitchen in no time. :)


                                    1. re: mcel215

                                      An easy micro-dinner for summer -- filets of fish and broccoli -- put on a plate in a wheel pattern, alternating the fish with the broccoli. Drizzle a little EVOO and lemon, S&P. Cover with a pyrex bowl and nuke until the broccoli is bright green and the fish is opaque. Only needs a few minutes. Here is an actual recipe that also includes an orange sauce and couscous:

                                    2. Ceviche is the perfect food for hazy, hot and humid days. Fresh fish and citrus are required but beyond that you can be as creative as you like. Yummy!

                                      1. When it's hot, when I cook, I try to get the most bang for my buck, and make extra, so I have to cook less during the week, and I use my rice cooker, and crock pot, instead of turning on the oven. I don't have a grill anymore, but I used that often too.

                                        With the crock pot, I would make dishes like ratatouille, or caponatina. Can be eaten warm or room temp, or cold. As a side for grilled meats, or leftovers with crusty bread for lunch. Or boil up some pasta the next day and toss it with the caponatina and top with cheese for a nice and easy pasta dish. Another easy crock pot summer dish around here, is ham, potatoes, and string beans.

                                        I use my rice cooker to make a batch of my rice pilaf, and then use that through the week with quick things like salads (like Tabouleh or Cous Cous, which were mentioned, I think and are good ideas), and stir fries, with out heating up the kitchen.

                                        I really miss being able to make a huge batch of grilled veg. I would use these in everything. Salads, stir fry, make wraps or layer them on crusty bread, with olive oil and maybe a olive salad and then weight them down in the fridge with something heavy. Muffalata sandwiches are good too, if you like meats.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: Matahari22

                                          Do you have a good olive salad recipe or whatever that would go into a Muffalata sandwich??

                                          1. re: cstout

                                            Sure, this one is pretty darn close. I would use just red onion, and not pickled.


                                            1. re: Matahari22

                                              Matahari22, thanks so much for the website you mentioned...had several recipes that I want to print out & try. I have only done "no knead" bread, but will try my hand at the Muffalata bread to go along with the olive salad. You are a dear.

                                              1. re: cstout

                                                Cstout, you are welcome. I should thank you as well for inspiring me to make up a new olive salad this week. It's very yummy and it's been a staple for me this week. :) The mere mention gave me cravings. Lol

                                        2. Go to the store and get two of the store's rotisserie chicken. Spend 1/2 hours this evening, boiling up some small potatoes, braising beet greens, and sauteing summer squash, or boiling pasta for a pasta salad. Eat for dinner tonight and two more nights. Have tuna sandwiches on the 4th night. Go out to dinner on the 5th. At least, that's what I'm going to do. Or in a day or two, strip the chicken from the bone, boil pasta, make peanut sauce, add veggies and eat it as a cold veggie salad.
                                          I used to roast a chicken or two the day before a heat wave, but to be honest, the ones roasted by the store are perfectly acceptable for the summer. (I still roast my own in the winter.)

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: somervilleoldtimer

                                            somervilleoldtimer...all your ideas are wonderful....thanks for sharing.

                                          2. Another crock potter, griller here, with a shout out to toaster ovens as well.

                                            And yes, I'll cook in the am, especially if I need to bake. My neighbors can't believe it (they know we don't have air conditioning) but if it do it early, it is no problem.

                                            Pasta salads, grilled chicken salads with grilled peaches - assembly, not cooking, seems to be the name of the game.

                                            1. The panini press is my best friend lately. I can't even count how many days in a row it's been over 100 here.
                                              My favorite hot weather panini is tomato, arugula, and a nice italian cheese. A big slice of melon on the side, and there's dinner!

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: alliegator

                                                alliegator, do you make your own bread or what kind of bread do you use??

                                                1. re: cstout

                                                  Usually I use a nice store bought ciabatta. Bread making isn't something I've ever really done much of. I'm so lucky that my grocery store has a great bakery!

                                                2. Use the slow-cooker for a lot of things. Being a swim mom taught me even more about the versatility of slow-cookers for great baked potatoes -- cook on high for about 2 hours. The other swim meet dish we make is BBQ Beef or BBQ Pork in the crock pot. It is not foodie version -- but a hearty and tasty nonetheless. Just plop a big hunk of meat in the slow cooker the night before the meet. Cook on low about 10 hours. I use various rubs and seasonings on the meat before cooking. By morning the meat is well cooked and can be shredded with two forks. Add your favorite BBQ sauce, and set dial the warm. Voila! Swim meet BBQ. Serve it on a bun with a side of chips and a pickle for $4.