Behold, our top 100 recipes and ways to help keep yourself sated while keeping your kitchen cool during the dog days of summer. Includes stuff to sip, to have for supper, and, natch, satisfy a craving for something sweet.
This past July, I made the mistake of baking a pie from scratch. It was magnificent. But when the air is so heavy that even a feeble waft from a quick flip of a magazine page offers relief, it’s too hot to turn any oven dial—let alone bake a pie.
If you’re anything like a lot of us, kitchen production comes to an almost screeching halt during these slow-moving dog days of late summer. And while can’t do anything about the heat outside, we can help you turn down—or rather, not turn up—the dial in the kitchen.
We’ve gathered all our no-cook recipes to get you through one sweltering day after another of late summer. Not a single one of these cold kitchen recipes requires you standing and staring down at the stove. Not even to boil water. So if you can, peel yourself off that couch and shuffle your way to the fridge. You’ve got some non-cooking cooking to do.—Cynthia Furey
A little something to keep you company throughout the day, whether you prefer things naughty or nice.
(If you don’t have simple syrup already on hand, don’t bother making it. Instead, just stir in the same amount of sugar until it dissolves.)
Starters (aka shortcut suppers)
All manner of dips and finger foods.
Seven-Layer Dip (ignore the part about warming the beans and simply drain, rinse, and mash them)
Miso with Japanese Crudites
Place some yellow miso in a small bowl. Add a splash of rice vinegar, some hot pepper flakes, and a ton of ground sesame seeds. Add cold water, whisking constantly, until the mixture has the consistency of a creamy dip. Serve with veggie sticks—carrots, daikon, snow peas, sugar snaps, celery, green beans, fennel, kohlrabi, and whatever else you find in season at the greenmarket.—Chiyo Ueyama, LC Recipe Tester
We’re not just talking leafy greens here (though of course there’s some of that, too).
Panzanella (forget sautéing the bread and simply use day-old bread drizzled with olive oil instead)
Sliced Tomatoes and Sweet Onion
Slice a Creole tomato (or any kind that you have growing in the back garden) and toss with very thinly sliced sweet onion and your favorite balsamic and olive oil. You can add sliced olives and chunks of any kind of cured sausage you might happen to have on hand as well as sliced mozzarella or feta. Basil is also nice. Actually, this is a blank canvas just waiting for any other toss-ins.—Karen Depp, LC Recipe Tester
The Iconic Watermelon, Mint, Feta, Balsamic Salad
Chop chilled watermelon and feta into chunks and toss with mint, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil.—Brenda Carlton, LC Recipe Tester
Not Exactly A Salad Fruit Salad
Slice or dice Hawaiian papaya away from its peel, scoop out the seeds, and squeeze with lime.—Renee Schettler, LC Editor in Chief
Tomatoes, cut into bite-size chunks
Raw sweet corn, sliced off the cob
Bocconcini (little fresh mozzarella balls)
Basil, cut into chiffonade
Vinegar, whatever kind sounds good
Coarse sea salt
Stir all of the ingredients together right before you’re going to serve, because you don’t want to refrigerate the tomatoes and the basil doesn’t improve after being cut. It might not be the most original but I’ve been making it for a long time and never had a real recipe.—Debbie White, LC Recipe Tester
No one ever said a cheese course can’t constitute supper.
Sometimes a sleeper of a side can surprise you and turn into supper.
Cannellini Beans and Tomatoes
(Simply stir raw chopped tomatoes in with the beans in place of the roasted tomatoes on the side.)
Radishes with Butter Dressing
(Let the butter turn into a puddle at room temperature.)
Cucumber and Black Bean Salad
Toss together canned, drained black beans, diced cucumbers, chopped and seeded tomatoes, lime juice, hot sauce, and cilantro.—Chiyo Ueyama, LC Recipe Tester
Simple Italian Kale
Just wash and dry a bunch of Lacinto or Nero di Tosca kale and then thinly shred or slice the leaves crosswise into ribbons, as if for slaw. Toss the kale with a vinaigrette made from not-too-pungent olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and lemon zest to taste. Refrigerate for at least an hour or two, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.— Marilyn Canna, LC Recipe Tester
Chilled soups (aaaaaah)
No pan. No burner. No sweat. A knife, a cutting board, and a blender are pretty much all you need.
Something more substantial
Some of these require a little creativity to get into the no-cook category, but we’ve included our tricks to keep you cool.
Steak and Quinoa Salad
(This requires a little easy forethought in making some extra quinoa and grilling a little more steak than usual next time you do cook and stashing them in the fridge where no one will demolish them)
(Forget the croutons and use leftover grilled chicken or shrimp to keep it oven-free.)
Pea Shoot Salad with Chicken
(It’s easy enough to rely on leftover grilled or rotisserie chicken rather than cooking anything fresh.)
Chinese Chicken Salad
(Use leftover grilled or rotisserie chicken rather than hearing up the grill or kitchen just for this recipe)
This is a classic no-cook tofu dish for the loooong, hot summer in Japan. Place a block of silken tofu (you can cut it in four or six pieces if you’d like) on a plate. Scatter lots of grated ginger and chopped scallion over the top and drizzle with really good, full-sodium soy sauce.—Chiyo Ueyama, LC Recipe Tester
These days when it hits 90 plus, I’m not very innovative. It’s mostly salads with greens from the garden or farmer’s market and whatever leftover protein scraps are in the refrigerator. A freshly made vinaigrette with herbs from the garden can change the whole nature of whatever meat or cheese or bean dish we had two nights before.—Cindi Kruth, LC Recipe Tester
Nothing wrong with some seasonal stone fruits, berries, or melon for dessert. Although sometimes you’re in the mood for something a little more surprising…
Girl Scout Cookies
Preferably from that stash you keep in the freezer. (You DO keep your GSC in the freezer, don’t you?!)—Renee Schettler, LC Editor in Chief
Take the ripest fruit on the counter—cherries, berries, bananas, peaches—and mash with a little sugar. Then stir into plain unsweetened yogurt. Freeze the pops in plastic molds using popsicle sticks from the craft store. Serve with some carrot sticks and sliced bell peppers to the little ones for dinner.—Cindi Kruth, LC Recipe Tester
Originally published August 2, 2010