We love to cook. We bet you do too. However, sometimes during these dog days of summer it’s hard to find the inspiration to get yourself into the kitchen. While restaurants and take-out are tempting at this time of year, there are plenty of delicious recipes you can make at home without suffering from summer-cooking fatigue. Here are a few tips to make summer meals come together without getting all hot and bothered.
1. Take it outside: The most obvious trick to staying out of a hot kitchen in summer is to make dinner on the grill outside. Grilled meats and veggies can come together in a few moments and will satisfy even the hardiest of summer appetites. Grilled steaks with asparagus is a classic option, or try these Grilled Steak Kebab Pitas with Ginger & Garlic Dressing.
2. Find cool flavors that go with everything: Tzatziki is full of cool, crisp, versatile cucumber. It’s a fantastic accompaniment to grilled or poached chicken. It also transforms a boring salad or a plate of raw veggies into a meal cool enough to keep everyone dipping well after that blazing sun sets.
3. Transform a salad into a sandwich: Summer salads are a staple. They can be a whole meal in themselves, or they can accompany other simple summer favorites. Whatever direction you go, make a little extra. The next night that salad can be transformed into a brand new dinner. Simply tuck some of it between two slices of bread, slip it into a bun, or roll it up in a tortilla. Try it out with this easy summer salad.
4. Consider quick soups And stews: Really. Soups and stews need not be winter food that simmers away for hours and hours on a hot stove. A few summer veggies can be stirred into chicken or veggie stock, then simmered to perfection in less than 10 minutes. Or try this Summer Corn and White Bean Soup. It's the perfect antidote for a summer evening.
5. Spice it up: Take some advice from the cuisine of various hot-climate regions: spice is not something to avoid just because it's summer. If this seems counter-intuitive, just think about it this way: sweat is the body's natural air-conditioner. This Asian-Style Spicy Coleslaw is perfect alongside grilled bbq or on its own as a salad.
6. Lighten up your favorites: Chicken Cheesesteaks won’t weigh you down nearly as fast as the Philly originals, and other cool-weather favorites such as spaghetti and meatballs can also be lightened up. Chilled pasta, like this Caprese Sausage Pasta Salad, is a terrific way to serve a balanced meal without getting hot and bothered.
7. Get creative with raw fish: Sushi and sashimi can be great options when you just can't handle turning on the oven. Ceviche is another perfect option because the fish "cooks" by marinating in citrus juice, leaving your kitchen cool as a cucumber. It can also be made ahead of time, which is perfect for your next pool party. This Mango Ceviche's tropical flavors are particularly suited to summertime.