Beat the heat

Keep cool in the kitchen with this easy no-cook din­ner

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - By Raquel Pelzel

Iused to have all the time in the world to make din­ner. I was a free­lance food writer, and it was my job to ob­sess about what to cook, how to cook it and how to frame it for an In­sta­gram post. Then I did some­thing crazy — took a full-time le­git job as editorial di­rec­tor at cook­book pub­lisher Clark­son Pot­ter. Now, those lan­guid days of din­ner dream­ing are gone, baby, gone.

Even though I cook all the time, I am now one of those sin­gle moms who think, on my com­mute home, about the fastest way to get din­ner on the ta­ble for my two hun­gry boys. Typ­i­cally, I might turn to a bak­ing sheet to roast, braise or bake my way to a one-pan din­ner in one clean swoop, as it is ef­fi­cient, easy and the sub­ject of my next book.

But the weather is hot, so no-cook din­ner, here I come! No stove top, no grill —

recipes that are the holy grail of nights like these. Not only will you stay cool and com­posed, but you also can have the whole meal on the ta­ble in 40 min­utes, in­clud­ing a no-bake dessert. (Spoiler alert: You do need to melt choco­late in the mi­crowave.) Here’s a menu’s worth of dead-sim­ple yet so­phis­ti­cated recipes to see you through the hottest of days.

Heir­loom Toma­toes, Can­nellini Beans and Snap Peas

4 serv­ings

Crisp crunch and beau­ti­ful col­ors will pull your guests to the side of the plate where this salad sits.

MAKE AHEAD: The salad, mi­nus its basil and goat cheese, can be re­frig­er­ated a day in ad­vance.

From cook­book au­thor and Clark­son Pot­ter editorial di­rec­tor Raquel Pelzel. In­gre­di­ents

12 ounces (about 2 medium) ripe heir­loom toma­toes, hulled and cut into bite-size pieces

2 ta­ble­spoons ex­tra-vir­gin olive


K tea­spoon salt OR 1 tea­spoon

kosher salt

6 ounces snap peas, ends trimmed and pods thinly sliced on a bias (about 1 cup)

1 K cups drained and rinsed canned white beans, such as can­nellini (from a 15-ounce can)

L cup fresh basil leaves, stacked, rolled and thinly sliced cross­wise (chif­fon­ade), or more as needed

2 ounces fresh goat cheese Di­rec­tions

Com­bine the toma­toes, oil and salt in a mix­ing bowl, stir­ring gen­tly to in­cor­po­rate.

Add the snap peas, beans and most of the basil, then crum­ble the goat cheese over the top. Give the salad a gen­tle stir, sprin­kle with the re­main­ing basil and serve.

Nutri­tion | Per serv­ing (us­ing kosher salt): 210 calo­ries, 9 g pro­tein, 19 g car­bo­hy­drates, 11 g fat, 3 g sat­u­rated fat, 5 mg choles­terol, 380 mg sodium, 6 g di­etary fiber, 4 g sugar

Av­o­cado-Crab Rolls

4 serv­ings

Av­o­cado makes a creamy and pretty mayo al­ter­na­tive in this 10-minute recipe, let­ting the taste of the crab­meat shine through.

Although this is a no-cook recipe, a but­ter-toasted bun wouldn’t be heresy.

From Raquel Pelzel. In­gre­di­ents

Flesh of 1 ripe Hass av­o­cado 2 ta­ble­spoons fresh le­mon or

lime juice

K tea­spoon salt OR 1 tea­spoon

kosher salt

8 ounces lump crab­meat, picked

over to re­move any car­ti­lage

or shell

2 ta­ble­spoons thinly sliced

chives or scal­lions

4 hot dog buns or brioche buns,

prefer­ably split on top Small green leaf let­tuce leaves 12 sprigs cilantro, for gar­nish Di­rec­tions

Com­bine the av­o­cado, 1 ta­ble­spoon of the le­mon juice and 1/4 tea­spoon of the salt in a medium bowl. Use a fork to mash the mix­ture un­til it is semi-smooth, with some chunks.

Gen­tly fold in the crab­meat, the chives or scal­lions and the re­main­ing cit­rus juice and salt.

Line the buns with the let­tuce leaves. Di­vide the av­o­cado-crab mix­ture evenly among them. Top each por­tion with cilantro sprigs.

Serve right away.

Nutri­tion | Per serv­ing: 240 calo­ries, 16 g pro­tein, 29 g car­bo­hy­drates, 9 g fat, 2 g sat­u­rated fat, 75 mg choles­terol, 670 mg sodium, 3 g di­etary fiber, 6 g sugar

Cau­li­flower “Cous­cous” With Herbs

4 serv­ings

A quick side dish gets even quicker when you can pick up the cau­li­flower al­ready bro­ken down to a cous­cous con­sis­tency — typ­i­cally found these days in the re­frig­er­ated or frozen pro­duce sec­tion. The dress­ing com­po­nents go right into the salad.

From Raquel Pelzel. In­gre­di­ents

K medium head of cau­li­flower, sep­a­rated into flo­rets (or 10 ounces of frozen/de­frosted cau­li­flower cous­cous; see head­note)

1 medium red bell pep­per, halved, seeded and finely chopped

1 medium cu­cum­ber, peeled,

halved length­wise, seeds scooped out and cu­cum­ber finely chopped

O cup fresh herbs, such as basil, cilantro, fen­nel fronds, mint, pars­ley or tar­ragon, or a com­bi­na­tion thereof) 3 scal­lions, white and light­green parts, finely chopped 1 ta­ble­spoon mirin

1 ta­ble­spoon fresh le­mon juice,

or more as needed

1 tea­spoon ground co­rian­der

K tea­spoon salt OR 1 tea­spoon

kosher salt, or more as needed 3 ta­ble­spoons ex­tra-vir­gin olive


L cup roasted, salted sun­flower

seeds Di­rec­tions

Place the cau­li­flower flo­rets in a food pro­ces­sor; pulse for six or eight 1-sec­ond pulses, un­til they are fine-tex­tured and look like cous­cous. Trans­fer to a mix­ing bowl.

Add the bell pep­per, cu­cum­ber, herbs, scal­lions, mirin, le­mon juice, co­rian­der and the salt, stir­ring to in­cor­po­rate. Add the oil and stir un­til ev­ery­thing is well sea­soned; taste to make sure, and ad­just as needed.

Stir in most of the sun­flower seeds. Serve with the re­main­ing sun­flower seeds sprin­kled over the top.

Nutri­tion | Per serv­ing: 200 calo­ries, 4 g pro­tein, 12 g car­bo­hy­drates, 16 g fat, 2 g sat­u­rated fat, 0 mg choles­terol, 380 mg sodium, 4 g di­etary fiber, 5 g sugar

Lentils with HotSmoked Salmon

4 serv­ings

Canned lentils are a con­ve­nience item that mer­its co-star at­ten­tion here. Serve this spiky-sa­vory salad as a main dish or side.

Hot-smoked salmon has a flakier, more “roasted” tex­ture than cold-smoked, lox-style salmon, though in a pinch, the lat­ter works just fine. Here, it can be flaked apart or chopped and then folded into the salad, or you can sim­ply serve it along­side the lentils. From Raquel Pelzel. In­gre­di­ents

One 15-ounce can lentils,

drained and rinsed

3 radishes, trimmed and cut into

thin rounds

1 ta­ble­spoon ca­pers, drained

and coarsely chopped 2 ta­ble­spoons finely chopped

fresh dill

1 ta­ble­spoon sherry vine­gar

N tea­spoon salt OR K tea­spoon

kosher salt

N tea­spoon freshly ground

black pep­per

2 ta­ble­spoons ex­tra-vir­gin olive


8 ounces hot-smoked salmon, skin and pin­bones dis­carded (see head­note) Di­rec­tions

Com­bine the lentils, radishes, ca­pers and dill in a mix­ing bowl. Driz­zle with the vine­gar, then sea­son with the salt and pep­per, stir­ring to in­cor­po­rate. Add the oil and toss to coat.

Cut the salmon into 4 equal por­tions, or flake the salmon into the lentil salad and toss gen­tly to in­cor­po­rate, then di­vide among in­di­vid­ual plates.

Nutri­tion | Per serv­ing (us­ing kosher salt): 210 calo­ries, 17 g pro­tein, 15 g car­bo­hy­drates, 9 g fat, 2 g sat­u­rated fat, 15 mg choles­terol, 770 mg sodium, 8 g di­etary fiber, 2 g sugar

No-Bake Co­conut­ter Fudge Bars

24 small squares Chopped dried cher­ries en­hance the choco­laty fla­vor and rich­ness of this easy dessert or snack.

The choco­late does need to be melted in the mi­crowave, so we can’t hon­estly call this a no-cook recipe. But mak­ing it won’t heat up your kitchen, and that’s the goal.

MAKE AHEAD: The as­sem­bled bars are eas­ier to han­dle with at least 20 min­utes of chill time. Store or pack them in a sin­gle layer; wrapped well (once they are firm), they can be frozen for up to 1 week.

From “Sheet Pan Sup­pers Meat­less: 100 Sur­pris­ing Veg­e­tar­ian Meals Straight From the Oven,” by Raquel Pelzel (Work­man, 2017). In­gre­di­ents

1K cups roasted, salted peanuts N cup Dutch-pro­cessed co­coa

pow­der (unsweet­ened) k tea­spoon salt OR N tea­spoon

kosher salt

1N cups dried cher­ries 2 ta­ble­spoons creamy peanut

but­ter (op­tional)

8 ounces semi-sweet choco­late,

finely chopped

M cup low-fat co­conut milk 1K ta­ble­spoons liq­ue­fied

co­conut oil

Flaked sea salt, for gar­nish

(op­tional) Di­rec­tions

Com­bine the peanuts, co­coa pow­der and salt in a food pro­ces­sor; pulse about 10 times (1-sec­ond pulses), un­til finely ground. Add the cher­ries; pulse about 6 times, un­til you can squeeze the mix­ture to­gether with­out it break­ing apart eas­ily. If it seems loose, add the peanut but­ter and pulse to bind and in­cor­po­rate.

Line a quar­ter bak­ing sheet with parch­ment pa­per. Spread the peanut mix­ture in the pan. Place a sheet of plas­tic wrap on top of the peanut mix­ture, and, us­ing the bot­tom of a mea­sur­ing cup, press it into a solid and even layer. Freeze un­til set, about 15 min­utes.

Place the choco­late in a mi­crowave-safe bowl. Mi­crowave on HIGH in 20sec­ond in­cre­ments, stir­ring be­tween each, un­til the choco­late is com­pletely melted; this should take a to­tal of about 1½ min­utes.

Whisk in the co­conut milk and co­conut oil un­til smooth, then pour the mix­ture over the frozen peanut-mix­ture base, spread­ing it in an even layer. Sprin­kle with flaky salt, if us­ing, and freeze for at least 20 min­utes be­fore cut­ting into 24 squares.

Nutri­tion | Per piece (us­ing kosher salt): 140 calo­ries, 4 g pro­tein, 13 g car­bo­hy­drates, 9 g fat, 4 g sat­u­rated fat, 0 mg choles­terol, 40 mg sodium, 1 g di­etary fiber, 9 g sugar

Jen­nifer Chase, The Wash­ing­ton Post

Heir­loom Toma­toes, Can­nellini Beans and Snap Peas.

Jen­nifer Chase, The Wash­ing­ton Post

Cau­li­flower “Cous­cous” With Herbs.

Jen­nifer Chase, The Wash­ing­ton Post

Av­o­cado-Crab Rolls.

Jen­nifer Chase, The Wash­ing­ton Post

Lentils With Hot-Smoked Salmon.

Jen­nifer Chase, The Wash­ing­ton Post

No-Bake Co­conut­ter Fudge Bars.

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