I don’t know why I wilt with warm weather. I wish I were like my husband, Larry, who announces on the hottest day of the year, at the hottest time of the day, that he is going on a 5 mile hike, straight up the mountain behind us. “Are you CRAZY???” I say, sitting in front of the fan with my bathing suit on and cold washcloths pressed against my forehead. He LOVES the heat, embraces it with every sweaty pore in his body. It might be because he grew up in hot climates—Chicago, New Jersey, Cleveland—and I grew up next to the beach. Maybe our heat tolerance has to do with where we spent our childhood. And I spent mine in the ocean (literally, all summer long).
By now you probably have figured out that I love to cook, but not when it’s hot. All of my normal passion in the kitchen goes on vacation to places like Antarctica while I am left behind trying to stay cool. But since I am still committed to eating well, I have my favorite no-cook recipes that get me through hot spells. I do all of my chopping in the morning before the house gets too hot then throw everything together at the last minute.
Cold soups are easy and refreshing. Served with a salad, some sliced melon and a baguette they taste wonderful on the hottest day of the year. I’ve posted some of my favorites here and here. The gazpacho and cucumber soup don’t require any cooking at all so are perfect on the hottest days. I found this cold black bean soup recipe on the Internet and it sounds yummy, also requiring no cooking.
Large dinner salads are perfect meals on hot days. You can layer whatever you want on a bed of greens. I like any of the following on my dinner salads: cold asparagus (you can use canned if you don’t want to cook it first), beans (garbanzos are my favorite), tomatoes, cucumbers, beets, cold hardboiled eggs, hearts of palm, fresh corn (taken off of the cob either cooked or raw) and generous amounts of toasted sunflower seeds or slivered almonds. If you eat tuna and salmon, add these straight out of the can. Then cover the salad with generous amounts of your favorite vinaigrette. This is a complete meal served with a crusty loaf of bread. One of our favorite hot day dinners when the kids were little was tuna salad or chicken salad, both made with grapes and fresh herbs (thyme, basil, or dill are my favorites), stuffed into either a cantaloupe or a tomato and covered with toasted almonds (try a papaya for the ultimate decadence).
Here is a raw vegan twist on this summer favorite. We had this for dinner tonight and it was fabulous!
Mock Tuna Salad
1½ cup raw sunflower seeds
½ cup raw almonds
3 stalks celery, finely minced
½ small red bell pepper, finely minced
¼ cup red onion, finely minced
½ cup diced seedless grapes
2 Tbsps fresh dill, finely minced
1 Tbsp dulse flakes (kelp granules)
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons tahini
½ t salt (or to taste)
freshly ground pepper to taste
Cover seeds and nuts in separate bowls with 2 inches of fresh water. Soak for 10-12 hours (overnight). Drain seeds and nuts, and take the skins off of the almonds. Rinse.
Grind seeds and nuts in food processor with tahini.
With processor going, add lemon juice and if needed, a few tablespoons of water. Process until a smooth paste is formed. Mix together all ingredients.