Ideas for No-Cook Meals to Make During a Heat Wave

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The last thing you want to do when it’s boiling outside is boil something inside. Here are some no-cook meal ideas from our staff to help you keep the kitchen bearable this week.

Inspired by the Summer Garden Pasta recipe by Ina Garten of the Barefoot Contessa, food writer Megan McCaffrey combines halved cherry tomatoes, garlic, fresh basil and olive oil together and lets it sit all afternoon. Pile on top of a big piece of country bread and serve with a knife and fork.

She also makes chopped Mediterranean salad with shrimp, stuffed in a pita; seafood salad on rolls; smoked salmon over a cucumber and spinach salad with horseradish dressing; and caprese sandwiches with mozzarella, tomato and pesto on ciabatta, served with slaw.

Related: 10 Tips for Keeping Cool in the Kitchen

Another fan of the caprese sandwich is theater writer Peter D. Kramer. “Long roll, fresh mozzarella, basil, tomato, balsamic vinaigrette,” he says. “Sangria. Summer.” Indeed.

Real estate writer Barbara Nackman makes a mean gazpacho and serves it with sliced avocado and sour cream. And rather than beer, she likes hard cider for a hot summer’s night.

 

tomatoes

Tomatoes, onions, bread and herbs can make a number of terrific no-cook meals, from gazpacho to salad to sandwiches.

Store-bought roast chicken served at room temperature is a no-brainer, and garden writer Bill Cary likes to augment it with a couple of homemade or store-bought side salads. He also suggests microwaving bacon to make a chef’s or Cobb salad. And to make a pasta salad for dinner, he gets up really early to cook ziti or penne, then tosses it with canned tuna, arugula, good black olives and halved cherry tomatoes and a simple vinaigrette.

For me, lobster rolls (with pre-cooked lobster) are a savior. Saute top-split hot dog buns in butter (that won’t take too much heat) and pile them high with lobster chunks tossed with mayonnaise, tarragon (just a little), lemon zest and lemon juice. Another great meal: slices of hard salami and thin prosciutto served with olives, a sheeps’ milk cheese like Manchego or Idiazabal, and crusty bread. Or go Mediterranean: buy good hummus and serve with pita, olives, nuts and blueberries and cherries. And when it’s super-hot like this, I just can’t get enough melon. Toss watermelon with mint and basil and top with feta cheese and slices of jalapeno. Wrap prosciutto around slices of cantaloupe or honeydew. Sprinkle any melon with salt and chili and eat out of hand.

And yes, rosé. Lots of rosé.

And last, editor Karen Croke recommends her mother-in-law’s tomato salad. Take 6 ripe garden tomatoes cut in large wedges and toss with a half cup chopped red onion and a clove of finely chopped garlic. Add a half cup of crumbled sharp provolone cheese and some sprigs of basil and toss with enough olive oil to make a dressing. Add dried red pepper to taste.

“We eat this for dinner with a loaf of fresh French bread and a bottle of icy cold pinot grigio,” she says. “Make sure to use enough olive oil to make a dressing, which you sop up with all that crusty bread!”

Sounds divine. Stay cool, everyone.

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About Author

Liz Johnson is the food editor of The Journal News and LoHud.com, for which she's won awards from the New York News Publishers Association, the Association of Food Journalists and the Associated Press. She lives in Nyack with her husband and daughter on a tiny suburban lot they call their farm — with fruit trees, an herb garden, and a yardful of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, shallots, cucumbers, zucchini, radishes, cabbage, peppers, Brussels sprouts and carrots and four big blueberry bushes.

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