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.)
How to Make a Perfect Smoothie
Peanut Butter & Jelly Smoothie
Starters (aka shortcut suppers)
All manner of dips and finger foods.
Buttermilk Dressing with Winter Crudites
Seven-Layer Dip (ignore the part about warming the beans and simply drain, rinse, and mash them)
Cheese-Stuffed Dates with Prosciutto
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).
Bibb Wedges with Blue Cheese Dressing
Moroccan Salad of Oranges, Red Onion, and Olives
Kachumbari Tomato and Red Onion Salad
Endive Salad with Gorgonzola, Pine Nuts, and Honey
Arugula, Fennel, and Orange Salad
Apple, Parmesan, and Mixed Green Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette
Arugula Salad with Pear and Blue Cheese
Tomato, Watermelon, and Feta Salad
Butter Lettuce and Fresh Herbs with Maytag Blue Cheese
Panzanella (forget sautéing the bread and simply use day-old bread drizzled with olive oil instead)
Fennel, Orange, and Watercress Salad
Chickpea and Spinach Salad with Cumin
Pear, Basil, and Pecorino Toscano Salad
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.
Goat Cheese with Olives, Lemon, and Thyme
Peach, Burrata, and Basil Salad
Fresh Figs with Ricotta and Honey
Sometimes a sleeper of a side can surprise you and turn into supper.
Shaved Summer Squash
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.
Cantaloupe Soup with Prosciutto-Mozzarella Sandwiches
Portuguese White Gazpacho with Crab
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)
Vietnamese-Style Chicken Salad
(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…
Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream
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
I don’t think there is anything more wonderful or refreshing than cold soup on a hot summer’s eve, either as an appetizer or main course with a terrific light salad. Here are a couple from old masters that I have copied from my Cold Soups folder—ENJOY!
Gazpacho Gelées (Jellied Soup) with Avocado Cream
Philippe Braun, who created this soft, slightly spicy tomato jelly topped with an unctuous avocado cream, is the extremely talented executive chef at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Paris. One of Joël Robuchon’s closest associates, Braun travels with the master to keep standards high at outposts in Las Vegas, Tokyo and, later this year, New York City.
1/2 cup drained canned tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup peeled, seeded and chopped cucumber
1/2 cup peeled and chopped red pepper
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon very finely chopped garlic
Dash of Tabasco
Pinch of ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon powdered unflavored gelatin
1 Hass avocado—seeded, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
In a blender, puree the tomatoes with the cucumber, red pepper, vinegar, garlic, Tabasco and cumin. Pass through a fine strainer into a glass measuring cup. Season with salt.
Transfer half of the mixture to a small saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the mixture and let stand for 5 minutes. Cook the mixture over moderate heat until the gelatin is melted, about 1 minute. Stir in the remaining tomato mixture. Pour into 4 small glass bowls and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
Meanwhile, clean out the blender, then puree the chopped avocado with the water, lime juice and olive oil. Season with salt. Spoon the avocado cream over each gelée and serve.
Make Ahead: The gelées and avocado puree can be refrigerated separately overnight.
Strawberry Orange Soup Recipe
By Rebecca Franklin, frenchfood.about.com
Both children and adults love this fresh berry soup. It’s lovely when used to round out an entrée salad for a light, healthy meal.
2 pints strawberries, hulled, plus extra for garnish
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup orange juice
1/3 cup water
1/3 to 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
Using a blender, process all ingredients until smooth. Chill for 1 hour before serving. Garnish with thinly sliced strawberries cut lengthwise.
James Beard’s Cold Minted Pea Soup
This spring-inspired soup from James Beard’s 1981 cookbook, The New James Beard, features tarragon, a unique variation on the traditional pea-and-mint pairing. Beard loved the anise-flavored herb; he once famously declared, “I believe that if ever I had to practice cannibalism, I might manage if there were enough tarragon around.”
6 cups chicken stock
1 small onion stuck with 2 cloves
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon tarragon
3 pounds freshly shelled peas or 3 packages frozen peas
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups heavy cream or plain yogurt
Finely chopped fresh mint
Put the chicken stock in a saucepan with the onion, garlic, tarragon, and peas. Cook until the peas are just tender.
Remove and discard onion.
Add salt and pepper to taste and puree in a food mill, blender, or food processor.
Combine with cream or yogurt and serve well chilled with a generous sprinkling of mint.
Paul, wow! Thanks. That ups the total to 82.