Food Friday: Simple recipes to beat the heat

Guest post by Kathryn Dunmore, Red Cross blogger

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about keeping cool in hot weather. In it, I mentioned the unchanged fact that you couldn’t pay me to turn on my stove or oven on hot summer days so I thought to share a few no-cook recipes.

Along with preparing no-cook meals, I also eat less but more often. In the winter, dishes like hearty macaroni and cheese with cauliflower for dinner keep me satisfied all night but in the summer I eat smaller meals like soups and salads more frequently throughout the day (things like turkey bites and cheese are my ritual snacks for a dose of protein).

There are many meals you can make without cooking, such as salads, cold soups (you'll need a blender though), dips like hummus, sandwiches and wraps, but here are a few recipes to keep you feeling gourmet despite the heat with few steps!

With many salad variations out there, here is one that will make you feel like you ordered it in a restaurant; however, I only prepare this one when I can buy a cooked whole chicken from the market (Tuesdays are sale days for cooked, whole chicken at my grocer – it’s cheaper than buying raw and avoids having to cook it yourself!)

Asian rotisserie chicken salad
You’ll need:
2 cups fresh cilantro leaves and soft stems
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from 2 limes)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 rotisserie chicken (about 2 1/2 pounds), skin and bones removed, meat shredded (about 4 cups)
1/4 medium red cabbage (8 ounces), cored and thinly sliced crosswise
1 red bell pepper (ribs and seeds removed), thinly sliced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 large head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup cashews

1. Make dressing: In a blender, combine cilantro, lime juice, and oil; season with salt and pepper. Blend until smooth.
2. In a large bowl, combine chicken, cabbage, bell pepper, and scallions; season with salt and pepper. In another large bowl, toss lettuce with 1/2 cup dressing. Divide among four bowls, and top with chicken mixture. Drizzle all with remaining dressing, and sprinkle with cashews.

I absolutely love cold spring rolls and love varying the ingredients I use in it from lettuce and carrots to shrimp and mint leaves. The trick here is to not cook the rice paper (spring roll wrap) but to only wet rice paper under running water or in a bowl of cold water for only a minute – it will become pliable to fill with ingredients of your choice. I love the presentation of Feasting at Home’s cold spring rolls pictured left.

To go along with the spring rolls, here is a peanut dipping sauce recipe that can be prepared in under three minutes (you will need a microwave though to get the peanut butter to the right dipping consistency):

You’ll need:
2 tablespoons peanut butter
4 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce, or more to taste
3-5 tablespoons water

1. In a small microwave-safe bowl, add hoisin sauce, 3 tablespoons of water, peanut butter, and hot sauce, and mix with a fork just to blend ingredients.
2. Microwave on high for 20-25 seconds. Remove from microwave, and use a fork to combine ingredients together. If sauce is too thick, add 1-2 additional tablespoons of water to achieve a thinner consistency. Add more hot sauce, if desired. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator until ready.

And when I miss my hearty winter lasagna, I make this dish which is a family favourite with the bonus of no noodles to be cooked!

Zucchini Lasagna
For this, you’ll need: Farmer cheese, salt and pepper, olive oil, zucchini, tomatoes, basil

1. Season farmer cheese with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Layer two strips zucchini with cheese, sliced tomatoes, and basil. Repeat; top with zucchini. Drizzle with oil; sprinkle with salt, pepper, and basil.
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