Keeping Your Cool: Eat Well Without Heating Up the Kitchen This Summer

by Gina Blitstein · 0 comments

Summertime signals a change in what we eat and the way we eat it. We spend our days differently in the summer, feed more – or less – mouths and dine in a variety of places. Our tastes often gravitate toward lighter dishes that are served cool or at room temperature. On the hottest of days, the last thing we want to do is add more heat by cooking. It can be all-too-tempting to head to a restaurant and let them do the sweating in the kitchen – but that’s a costly habit to get into.

Whether we’re simply feeding the family or bringing a dish to a picnic or gathering, summer weather dictates that the foods we prepare are tasty, simple and refreshing. Summer fare can be delicious, take advantage of a bounty of in-season foods and be quite affordable.

I’ve compiled a collection of tips and recipes to help you discover and enjoy casual, cool summer cuisine inexpensively at home:

1. Planned Leftovers – When you do cook, plan for leftovers which can be used for future no-cook meals.

There are many foods you can cook in quantity so you have extra for use in preparing cool dishes. Cook extra pasta that can be used to make a future pasta salad, or potatoes for a potato salad. Boil up extra eggs for sandwiches, snacking or adding to salads.

Grilling steaks on the barbie? Toss on an extra one to be used in a steak salad served over crisp lettuce. Cook up some chicken breasts at the same time, which can likewise be tossed in a salad, or enjoyed on a sandwich or in a wrap. Leftover grilled vegetables are wonderful in chilled marinated salads or wrapped in a tortilla with the cheese of your choice.

Speaking of the grill, I particularly like to make pizza on mine. Yes, pizza. On a grill. It’s different than oven-baked but it’s a very satisfying yet lighter alternative to traditional pizza that will not heat up your kitchen. Here’s a great explanation of the grilled pizza method – top it however you like!

2. Let your creativity reign! – Summer is all about casual living, cooking and eating Consult recipes for inspiration but use what you have on hand to avoid running here and there in the hot weather for ingredients. Think of your favorite dishes, then riff on them by transforming them into a cold version, like salads and sandwiches such as these:

  • Spaghetti salad – Pre-cooked noodles, diced tomatoes, onions, garlic, peppers, basil and oregano, tossed with olive oil, salt and red pepper flakes and topped with Parmesan cheese.
  • Meatloaf sandwiches – Last night’s leftover meatloaf served on hearty bread with a little mayonnaise is a classic – and cool – meal today.

There’s a plethora of inspiration out there to encourage you to embrace meal preparation, even when it’s too hot to cook. Here are some resources to help whet your appetite for serving up some cool dishes:

Eating well in the summer doesn’t have to mean letting someone else do the cooking. When you plan ahead, think creatively and utilize what’s in season, you can serve up affordable, nutritious, delicious dishes – while keeping your cool – right from your own kitchen.

What’s your favorite hot-weather dish to prepare?

Bonus Tip:

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