Hot Weather Meals
We're about to get hammered with a series of near 100 degree days here in the Boston area so I'm thinking about hot weather foods that can be prepped totally ahead of time (no air conditioning). So far, gazpacho, the makings for salade nicoise, real homemade chicken salad, and Thai fresh rolls with shrimp are on the list. What is on your list for when the temperature soars yet you want to eat at home?
We've been having those days for what seems like forever now. I cooked beans in the crock pot, divided and froze them to add to salads, roll-ups,whatever. Yesterday I cooked eye of round steaks and cooked extra to make a steak salad, I boiled some macaroni at the same time and some eggs. Then made tuna salad and a taco chicken pasta salad. I buy the packages of bone in chicken breasts,cook them in the crock pot,then use the meat in pasta salads,chef salads,chicken salads,and roll -ups,chicken nachos. I want to make a potato salad but the idea of boiling potatoes and eggs doesn't appeal to me. It's so hot we haven't even been grilling.
I couldn't make it without the a.c. I'm a big wimp. Good luck!
Oooh, I didn't even think about the crockpot. I always associate it with winter. Thanks for the idea! Right now I have beets roasting in the oven, hard boiled eggs in process. Tomorrow morning before work I'll blanch grean beans and snap peas, simmer some lentils, and poach shrimp. Off to look at my crockpot recipes . . .
I'm in the Boston area too, but I will not use the oven if the temp is over 70. I'll only use the stove if it takes no more than 20 minutes. So I pay attention to forecasts and cook a lot when it's cool, freezing in portions. Costco's big bag of frozen potstickers is a staple - brown flat size in oil, add water, cover, simmer until water is gone. I poach boneless skinless chicken breast in the microwave and use for salads and sandwiches. I bakes a pound of bacon a few weeks ago. Once cooked, it is fine in the fridge for over a month.
I also multitask my heat - e.g., steamer basket with vegetables over the pot in which I am making pasta or hard-cooked eggs. Then I use the hot water in the dishpan and cool the burner by putting a pan of water onto the turned-off burner. You can do the same with your oven, transferring the heat into the water, Either use it or pour it down the drain. It prevents the oven heat from raising the room temp as much. I use a waffle iron for grilled cheese, zucchini, eggplant, and other flat foods.
Forgot to add that for salads and sandwiches, I microwave poach boneless, skinless chicken breast. Cover with water, add a generous shake of TJ's 21 Seasoning Salute.
I chill or freeze that liquid and re-use it to poach a couple more times. By then it is strong enough to make a generous portion of soup by adding vegetables and whatever starch is handy, or else I freeze it to use next time I am making gravy or stock.
Tonight I made peanut/sesame noodles. I used japanese noodles (3 minutes in boiling water and they are done). I added the meat from a Costco rotisserie chicken, shredded carrots, julienned cucumbers, julienned red peppers, sliced green onions, and chopped cilantro. Tossed it all with a homemade peanut sauce.
some inspiration for ya:
oh, and in terms of make-ahead, there are tons of threads about that too...and egg dishes are always a good choice for that - quiche, frittate, etc.
Making quiche and fritatta is a lovely idea when it's not so hot that one can actually turn on a heat element. My electric kettle, crock pot and microwave are currently being used for emergency only. The big, beautiful bunch of basil I bought at the farmers market (properly cared for, I might add) last Saturday wilted by Sunday morning.
Sometimes the weather leads the appetite.
Making quiche and fritatta is a lovely idea when it's not so hot that one can actually turn on a heat element.
precisely my point about the make-ahead...they keep well in the fridge or freezer, and are perfect to enjoy at room temp, no oven required...of course a zap in the MW helps if it's frozen, but you can also avoid that and use a warm water bath to thaw...
In a similar situation I once discovered that it is possible to cook a turkey breast in the crock-pot without turning on stove or oven, then you have it for cold sandwiches. I would put the frozen turkey breast (still frozen) in the cp before I went to bed at night and left it on all night and all the next day when I was at work. Got home to find it done perfectly. Another good hot weather thing is tabbouleh, no cooking required (soak bulgur in cold water while chopping parsley, scallions, and mint---mash all water out of bulgur, mix with chopped stuff, season with lemon juice, a little olive oil, salt. I leave out cucumber and tomato so it won't get slimy and keeps a week in fridge---add the cucumber and tomato when you eat it)..
Agree -- salads. I made Nigella's lovely watermelon salad last week with quick-pickled red onion, olives, mint, parsley, feta -- but that one needs to really be consumed immediately, as it gets a little iffy for leftovers.
And, I know the list below is obvious, but for a couple of weeks I dilly-dallied around and didn't pre.assemble the ingredients, so then I wasn't eating as much salad this summer. Now with a little forethought, it is soooo easy. Open fridge and grab. Beautiful too with summer colors bursting vibrantly on the plate.
*Make a big batch of a favorite salad dressing (or two) -- see below
*toast some nuts (I did almonds this week, and I reallly like pistachios in salads too) -- just a few minutes stovetop at medium heat in a dry pan, and then I stored these for salads for the week and
*get some of your favorite crumbly cheese -- Gorgonzola, feta, goat cheese, queso fresco (or smoked Gouda, non.crumbly also nice, especially paired with apple)
*pick up some fruit -- peaches, blueberries (2 for 1 at Shaw's this week), and mango are current favorites and
*fresh greens -- from a farmers' market if you can. I have been thrilled with the most tender, perfectly tangy arugula from the farmers' market the other day, making salad upon salad with my newly discovered dressing, with a slight sweetness that perfectly sets off the arugula:
Honey vinaigrette, a big batch:
4 tsp honey, 4 TBSP champagne vinegar, 2 tsp Worcestershire, 2 large cloves garlic smashed into a paste with some sea salt, 2 tsp Dijon. Whisk. Add salt and pepper, some fresh herbs if you want too. Then, stirring constantly, whisk in 1/2 cup olive oil.
Shake vigorously before each use, of course.
Cobb salad, open faced crab melts, Chinese chicken salad, stuffed tomatoes, avocado cherry tomato salad with grilled chicken, cold ham with slaw and beans, banh mi, BLATs, (BLT+avocado), veg plates( broccoli salad, potato salad, deviled eggs, pasta salad, panzanella, Caprese), and all the wonderful and infinite variations, cold cuts, ceviche, West Indies salad, fruit soups... Summer brings everything that's good to eat!
I am another crock pot user in the summer. I have two, a little one, because I am only cooking for myself, and sometimes, I don't want a lot. I do the beans in the crock pot all the time, then use them different ways through the week. They freeze well, too.
I also use my rice cooker to make a batch of my 3 grain pilaf. (1 rice measuring cup of jasmine rice, 1/2 a cup of quick cooking barley, the other half bulgur wheat) Then I use that thru the week to make a quick stir fry or salad. Or for brunch with a fried egg.
Couscous is another good thing. Make it plain then toss it with different stuff.
Reubens. Takes five minutes in a sandwich press.
Grill a bunch of veggies on the grill. I love roasted bell peppers. I always keep them on hand. Roasted veggie muffuletta sandwiches with a yummy olive salad. You can add meat, if you are a meat eater. Grilled veg are good tossed into everything.
Fresh tomato and herb sauce. It's just the juiciest yummy fresh tomatoes, chopped with garlic and fresh herbs and a little EVOO, and let it marinate for an hour. Toss with angel hair pasta that takes only a few minutes to cook.
Fruit and cheese and nuts.
Poached fish and a salad. Poached shrimp.
Antipasta platter with yummy crusty Italian bread.
Or when I really am super hot, and have no energy or appetite, I break out the blender and do a fruit sorbet, frozen fruit smoothie, or I just have Ben & Jerry's Pistachio Pistashio for dinner and call it a night.
I will frequently poach and chill some prawns and make a remoulade or classic cocktail sauce, and just serve up a plateful with another plateful of mezze: olives, artichokes, hummous baba ganoush, flatbreads, anything else marinated I can lay my hands on. We also like chicken (pre-marinated in a paste of plain yogurt, curry powder and garlic paste) baked and served cold, with orzo or rice salad, and don't forget a huge caprese with a chunk of French Bread. Cold grilled steak, marinated, makes a wonderful salad with lettuces and heirloom tomatoes and blue cheese crumbles, or chopped with greens and a Thai-gingery vinaigrette, with noodles and green onions and cilantro and water chestnuts, which works well with grilled chicken also. A big bowl of chicken salad is a wonderful thing to have around; keep it classic and you can always jazz it up with nuts, fruits, chopped chutney dressing: wonderful in wraps, or stuffed into tomatoes. Cold soups: borscht, cucumber, gazpacho (white or red) or fruit soups, with a plate of bread and cheese and charcuterie. Enjoy your meals.
With no air conditioning here on the UWS, I don’t want to turn on the stove & have gotten creative with the microwave, electric kettle, and blender/processor. Since these methods don’t add flavor, I use plenty of salsas, fresh herbs, spices, onion & garlic, peppers, citrus, vinegars etc to punch them up. As well as mayo-based sauces, I make yogurt-based with lots of garlic and/or herbs, or citrus-based with ginger and hot peppers.
Here are some "low-cooking" ideas
- Carbs: couscous, bulgar, or rice noodles cooked by boiling water from the electric kettle, or baby potatos in the microwave.
- Vegetables: microwaved (asparagus is especially good this way) then dressed, marinated, and/or used in a salad
- Fish/chicken: microwaved then seasoned highly and chopped (or not) for a warm dish or inclusion in a composed salad
- Eggs 1: let them come to room temperature (halfway to boiling temp last week!) then pour over boiling water from the electric kettle + give them a few minutes on the stove for hard-boiled. Pour off the hot water promptly and cool down the eggs & pan with cold water.
- Eggs 2: beat them with a little water then microwave; cut into strips
And other delights
- Dessert 1: cookie-crust (melt butter in microwave while you grind up any type of cookies in the food processor; combine & press into a pie pan; or buy one pre-made); whipped filling of cream cheese/plain yogurt/heavy cream with lemon zest, liquer, & a little sugar; top with fruit that’s been briefly microwaved to bring out the flavor. Freeze or refrigerate.
- Dessert 2: layer a grain (cookies, cake, ladyfingers, or granola) with fruit (chopped fresh; microwaved to bring out flavor; or jam) and dairy (instant pudding, whipped cream, and/or sweetened yogurt) refrigerate at least 2 hours. This is ice-box cake; a variant is the famous chocolate-wafer cake with whipped cream. Anna’s Swedish wafers are great for this in various flavors.
- Cold soup: my favorite is plain yogurt and tomato juice (more juice than yogurt) with scallions or onion, fresh lemon juice, and red or black pepper to taste; whizzed in the blender with plenty of ice; then add lots of fresh basil and blend briefly. I like this for breakfast or throughout the day on a real scorcher. Good with garlic toast, caeser or spinach salad, tabouli, or ceviche.
Tomato salad. Really good tomatoes cut into wedges, EVOO, maldon sea salt and a chiffonade of herbs (I am partial to chervil).
Shrimp cocktail with a variety of sauces
Crab salad in endive
Bruschetta (bread grilled not baked)
Ricotta and pea puree on toast or as a side dish to cold salmon
When it's that hot, I think fresh produce: taco salad, Caesar's salad, lots of tomatoes--a cheese/garlic/panko stuffed tomato that you normally broil but can microwave instead.
Tuna fish (or chicken or shrimp) salad stuffed in a tomato on a bed of lettuce. Lettuce wedges with homemade 1000 Island dressing with rose mixed in and chillled is yummy with sprinkled bacon chunks on top.
Cold suppers have long been a tradition in the South. Dates back to the times that the noon meal was served hot and was substantial.
Cucumbers in marinade, sliced tomatoes, deviled eggs, a potato or pasta salad, cold sliced ham or chicken, fruit for desert.
Pickled shrimp, a grain salad, sliced avocados with salad greens.
Make a variety of salads and prep veggies in the cool of the day and meals are easy to put together for most of the week.
Salmon Bowl - brown rice base, sliced radish or radish sprouts, chunks of cooked salmon, diced avocado and cucumbers, minced green onions. Drizzle with wasabi vinaigrette and lastly sprinkle with nori furikake, or toasted sesame seeds OR Somen Noodle Salad - romaine or iceberg lettuce base, al dente somen noodles, julienne cucumber, tamago (Japanese egg quiche), red kamaboko (steamed fish cake), chopped char siu, or surimi krab (optional), minced green onion, and toasted sesame seeds. Dressing made w/ soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, and salt.