Eat without heat
When it’s too hot to be in the kitchen, these dishes will fill you up, easy breezy
We’ve been fortunate this summer.
We’ve yet to hit 100 degrees this year. As of deadline, Little Rock has yet to hit 95 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
But even with temperatures in the upper 80s and low 90s, it can still feel too hot to cook. Besides, who wants to toil away in the kitchen when there are so many other things to do that don’t involve heat or flames?
The following recipes can be prepared with little to no cooking. Some let the grocery store do the cooking, while others rely on fresh, canned or frozen foods that don’t require cooking.
No recipe, no cook meals:
■ Cheese, fruit and charcuterie platter: Arrange assorted cheeses, fruits, nuts, pickles, crackers and salami or other cured meat on a large platter or board. Plan 2 to 4 ounces of meat and cheese per person.
■ Abendbrot: German for “evening bread,” this simple dinner is similar to the one mentioned above, but on buttered bread instead of crackers. Think buttered pumpernickel topped with sliced radishes or sliced tomatoes. Or wedges of crusty bread buttered and spread with a bit of Braunschweiger (a type of liverwurst). Or pretzel rolls buttered and stuffed with ham or smoked gouda. Alongside, serve some pickles, hard-cooked eggs (available already cooked and peeled at some grocery stores), grapes and wedges or slices of cheese. Buttering the bread is a must for true German-style abendbrot.
Chilled Cucumber and Avocado Soup With Red Chile and Mint
1 English cucumber, roughly chopped (see note)
½ avocado, peeled, pitted, chopped Leaves from 2 (5-inch) sprigs mint
Juice of ½ lime, or more to taste
Generous pinch smoked
Red chile flakes or hot sauce,
In a blender or food processor, combine cucumber, avocado, mint and lime juice. Process until smooth. Add up to 1 cup cold water to thin to desired consistency. Season with smoked paprika, additional lime juice and salt to taste.
Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of red chile flakes or hot sauce.
Makes about 4 ( ½ cup) servings.
Note: Can substitute 2 peeled and seeded regular cucumbers. Recipe inspired by The New York Times
A quick soak in rice vinegar, maple syrup and crushed red pepper gives the cucumbers on this sandwich some zip. We replaced the traditional crustless white bread with heartier, flavorful pumpernickel to take this sandwich from tea time to supper time.
Cream Cheese and Pickled Cucumber Sandwiches
For the cucumbers:
1 cup very thinly sliced cucumbers (we used ⅓ of an English cucumber) 2 tablespoons rice vinegar 1 teaspoon maple syrup or
sugar, or to taste Pinch crushed red pepper
For the sandwiches: 4 full-size slices pumpernickel, toasted if desired
4 tablespoons cream cheese Fresh dill fronds, chopped Salt
Place cucumber slices in a shallow dish. Add vinegar, maple syrup and red pepper flakes; toss to coat. Let stand 10 to 15 minutes.
Spread each slice of bread with 1 tablespoon of cream cheese. Top cream cheese with cucumber slices, overlapping slightly. Sprinkle with dill and
season with salt. Serve openfaced or closed for a traditional sandwich.
Makes 2 servings.
Here we turn to rotisserie chicken for a filling yet nottoo-heavy summer main-dish salad.
Sesame-Lime Chicken Salad
1 red chile such as Fresno or
ripe jalapeno (see note) 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
(we used sunflower) 3 tablespoons lime juice (from
about 2 limes)
1 teaspoon sugar or other sweetener ¼½to teaspoon sesamechile oil (can substitute plain toasted sesame oil) Salt and ground black pepper,
1 small head romaine lettuce,
torn into small pieces 2 medium carrots, grated 2 green onions, thinly sliced Shredded meat from 1 rotisserie chicken OR about 3 cups shredded leftover cooked chicken ¼½to cup crunchy chow mein noodles such as La Choy OR crispy fried onion or crispy fried onion jalapeno (such as French’s) or a combination
1 large handful cilantro leaves
Cut the chile in half lengthwise; remove and discard seeds. Mince half of the chile. Thinly slice the remaining half; set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the oils, lime juice, the minced chile, sugar and sesame oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste, adding more lime juice or sugar, as necessary. Add the lettuce, carrots, green onion, sliced red chile and shredded chicken and toss to combine.
Transfer to a serving platter. Top with crunchy noodles
(or onion and jalapeno) and cilantro.
Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.
Note: Can substitute ¼ sweet bell pepper for a mild version.
Stuff this chicken salad into fresh ripe tomatoes or serve it as a sandwich filling or on a bed of lettuce. It can be made with rotisserie or canned chicken.
Chicken Salad With Pecans and Grapes
¾ cup plain Greek yogurt OR mayonnaise, or more to taste Finely grated zest and juice of
1 tablespoon coarse-grain mustard ½ teaspoon smoked paprika ½ teaspoon sugar Kosher salt and ground black
Shredded meat from 1 rotisserie chicken (about 3 cups) OR 2 (13-ounce) cans chicken breast, drained
1 cup red grapes, halved Heaping ½ cup toasted pecans
½ cup diced celery
4 green onions, sliced
In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, lemon zest and juice, mustard, paprika, sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Stir in remaining ingredients and toss gently to coat. If mixture is too dry, add more yogurt or mayonnaise. Taste and season with more salt, pepper or mustard. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Makes about 6 servings.
Technically this dish requires a little cooking, as you’ll need to boil some water to soak the rice vermicelli noodles, but the cooking is minimal.
Vietnamese-Inspired Shrimp Summer Rolls
For the rolls:
1 teaspoon fish sauce 1 teaspoon minced lemongrass Ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon granulated sugar 24 small cooked shrimp,
peeled and deveined
6 ounces dried rice vermicelli ½ cup julienned or shredded carrots ½ cup julienned cucumber 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into thin slivers ½ cup julienned red bell peppers
1 mango, sliced into thin slivers Fresh mint or basil leaves 24 rice paper wrappers (see
1 small head of butter, bibb or Boston lettuce, leaves separated, torn to fit Dipping sauce:
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice 2 tablespoons sugar 2 tablespoons water
1 small red chile, minced
In a bowl, combine fish sauce, lemon grass, black pepper, sugar and shrimp; set aside.
Cook noodles according to package instructions. Drain well, squeezing out as much water as possible. Set aside.
Remove shrimp from marinade. Cut each shrimp down the middle of its back so that you have two identical halves.
Arrange vegetables, mango and herbs on a platter. Fill a wide shallow bowl or other dish with water. And let diners assemble their own rolls.
To assemble: Dip one rice paper round in the water for 2 seconds, or just until slightly softened. Place on clean, dry work surface. Blot dry with a paper towel. The wrapper will still be a little stiff. Lay a lettuce leaf near the bottom third of the round. Top with 4 shrimp halves, vermicelli noodles, carrots, cucumber, avocado, bell pepper, mango and mint or basil leaves. Try to keep the ingredients compact and piled on top of the lettuce. Starting with the side closest to you, roll the wrapper tightly around filling. The wrapper is self-sealing. Serve with dipping sauce. To make the dipping sauce, combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Taste and adjust sugar, lime or fish sauce as needed.
Makes about 12 rolls. Note: Look for rice paper wrappers on the international aisle at the grocery store. If you can’t find them, leave the lettuce leaves whole and make lettuce wraps.
with the help of a rotisserie chicken from the deli, keeps the kitchen cool while filling you up.
Cream Cheese and Pickled Cucumber Sandwiches