It's too darn hot to cook. The grill on our sun-blasted deck is so hot I wouldn't even need to light the flame to cook dinner. And I would cook right along with it. No thanks.
In my search for cool, mostly no-cook dishes that would help me survive this historic heat wave. I looked for for salads and entrees using what’s at the Bainbridge Farmers’ Market. I need recipes to make in big batches that I can whip out for future meals without lifting a knife or turning on a burner. Dishes that serve as an entrée when it’s too hot to eat, or as an instant side dish.
One standby meal that’s perfect for beating the heat and flexible enough to use up most anything you have in the fridge is quinoa salad. Last night I chopped up leftover smoked-paprika roast chicken, tomatoes, canned black beans, scallions, and zukes and tossed it all up with quinoa and cilantro and a lime-cumin vinaigrette. I’m enjoying it again as I write this. There are many recipes for quinoa salad, such as Quinoa Salad with Fresh Mint and Quinoa Salad with Corn and Black Beans. You really can’t go wrong with what you put in it, but the way you cook the quinoa makes a big difference. For light, fluffy quinoa I pre-boil it in a lot of water for about 10 minutes, then drain it and steam it for another 15 minutes until it fluffs up into a perfect base for any salad.
Another recipe that requires no cooking at all is this Beet Salad with Mint and Feta from local-food maven Patricia DiGiacomo Eddy of CookLocal.com. I used Port Madison Farms “Eagledale” goat cheese. Yes, the beets are raw. And yes, they are crunchy and delicious with less of that “earthy” quality that seems to annoy non-beet-lovers.
Mark Bittman, author of The Minimalist column in the New York Times, just published a fabulous list of 101 Simple Salads for the Season.
There’s nothing cooler than raw. Ceviches (seafood “cooked” by marinating) are the perfect antidote to this heat. Spicy, cold, crunchy, yeah! Try a Halibut Ceviche.
Whenever I cook salmon, I make extra to keep around for salads. Top some fresh local salad greens with leftover grilled or roast salmon, some blanched sugar snaps or green beans, tomatoes, Port Madison cheese (any variety) and dinner is done. Or you can make a wonderful Salmon Nicoise salad with local eggs, tomatoes and beans.
The new “Cookstr” site, which features recipes from a stellar collection of chefs and cookbook authors, just published a list of cool summer salads, including a super-simple Parsley Salad from Seattle chef Tom Douglas, a Crab Salad with Carrots, Basil and Lime, and a Farm Stand Greek Salad. You can also see their entire list of summertime recipes.
And then there’s potato salad. Good by itself or as a cool ready-made side-dish. Last week I cooked some of Betsey Wittick’s multi-colored potatoes until they were forkable but firm, sliced them (no peeling required), tossed them while still warm with apple-cider-vinegar, olive oil, garlic, and salt and pepper, and then added some fresh chopped basil from the garden. It was good warm, cold, and in between. I’ve been eating it all week. Last month NPR did a special on rethinking potato salad.