With temperatures hovering around 100º for the foreseeable future, I’ve dipped into the Blue Kitchen archives for some no-cook and minimal-cook recipes.
The recent heatwave has the Cole Porter classic “Too Darn Hot” running through my head—as sung by Ella Fitzgerald, of course. What the heat doesn’t have me thinking about, despite my best intentions, is the kitchen. Here are a few ideas for some cool foods that require little or no cooking. A couple are complete meals. Others can be paired with sandwich makings—cold cuts or a store-bought roast chicken, for instance—so you can eat well without overheating.
1. Berry Blue Cheese Watercress Salad
Take advantage of abundant berries now in the market. Blueberries and raspberries team up with watercress, butter lettuce, blue cheese and a simple vinaigrette for the salad shown above. Every ingredient plays a role, from the fresh, tart berries to the peppery watercress and earthy blue cheese, in creating a lively summer salad. Here’s the recipe.
2. Flank Steak with Watercress Salad
Okay, this one requires a little cooking—a grill pan on the stove for the steak and a quick sauté of the shallots. But the resulting meal is satisfying without seeming too heavy or hot. And the time in the kitchen is minimal. A Dijon mustard vinaigrette adds a nice kick to the already lively watercress. You’ll find the recipe here.
3. Strawberry Gazpacho
Besides being cool and refreshing—and just a little spicy—this gazpacho is just plain cool, an unexpected, impressive starter for summer dinner parties. Marion combines strawberries, cucumber, cayenne pepper, chives and hot sauce into a sweet, tangy, spicy no-cook first course. But you don’t have to wait for a dinner party. Larger servings of this strawberry gazpacho would nicely pair with a sandwich for a quick, cool lunch.
4. Peach Caprese Salad
With fresh basil, tomato slices and slabs of creamy mozzarella, caprese salad just tastes like summer. And if anything, this version that swaps out the tomato for juicy slices of peach is even more summery. You could serve it alongside cold leftover chicken, but there’s really no need. This recipe is satisfying as a light meal on its own.
5. Pasta Shells with Italian Tuna and Artichokes
I first posted this salsa cruda here almost five years ago. It remains a summer go-to meal for us. Salsa cruda is Italian for no-cook sauce; the only thing you cook for this dish is the pasta. The mix of capers, artichoke hearts, garlic, parsley, canned Italian tuna and lemon juice and zest all explode with fragrance and flavor when mixed with the still hot pasta. And they cool the pasta slightly, making this a delicious, warm, light meal.
6. Seared Salmon with Mixed Greens and Miso Vinaigrette
Minimal cooking creates maximum results with this dish. Thin slices of salmon seasoned with Japanese chili pepper are quickly sautéed; they slightly warm the bed of mixed greens, green beans, snow pea pods and cilantro tossed with a Japanese-based miso vinaigrette.