Dinner: A dish best served cold

It was 95 today. Supposed to be even hotter tomorrow. I grew up in Illinois in a home without air conditioning. I can handle heat, to a certain extent. But I didn’t do the cooking in those days. Or chase kiddos. If I wanted to sit in front of a fan and read all day, I did.

That’s not an option now. The two children in our house demand regular feedings (go figure!) and my husband usually works during the dinner hour, so I am left to slave over a hot stove by myself. (I can hear your pity. Or is that condescension? I never can tell.)

Last summer, in the midst of a heat wave, my husband and I made an executive chef decision and stocked up on mostly prepared cold foods, mainly for lunches. Eating hot foods on hot days, and even worse, preparing hot foods on hot days, held no appeal for either of us, so we wandered the grocery store aisles for ideas.

I’m re-establishing the plan this summer. Here’s my working list:

  • Hummus. A can of chickpeas, some tahini (you can make it or buy it; I prefer to buy it), garlic cloves, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and you’re basically set. My kids will eat this, although not always with the carrot and celery sticks I provide.

    A few of the pantry ingredients for our summer suppers

  • Salsa. With tortilla chips or the aforementioned veggie sticks. Can you tell we like dippy things in this house?
  • Pasta salad. One of our favorite variations uses pesto, olives, roasted red peppers, and shredded parmesan cheese. But I also like a traditional cucumber-tomato-Italian dressing option.
  • We tend to eat a lot of sandwiches. To add variety to the ham, roast beef, and turkey selection, I’m going to make some chicken salad, and maybe some tuna salad. Our favorite chicken salad recipe contains cucumber and green onions. It’s in the Betty Crocker Bridal Edition cookbook. Ours is falling apart from overuse. I highly recommend it.
  • Also egg salad. Our stand-by is an Alton Brown recipe served on pumpernickel bread.
  • BLTs. Toasted bread. Mayo. Bacon. Lettuce. Bacon. Tomato. Did I mention bacon? And my husband’s family adds a slice of cheese, something I’d never considered doing to a BLT before I met him. This sandwich and the previous two involve some cooking, but a little pre-planning is all it takes.
  • Tapenade. Another dippy/spread sort of dish made from olives. We’ve tried to make our own in the past but had some not so great results. Might be time to give it a whirl again. We like this on hearty crackers like Triscuits.
  • Speaking of olives, any salad or raw veggie plate in our kitchen has to have olives on it. The kids love ’em.

Do you have any summer food traditions or favorite cold dinners? Share them here and maybe none of us will have to run our ovens all summer!


2 thoughts on “Dinner: A dish best served cold

  1. We’ve been doing lots and lots of fruit, yummy sandwich spread to make sandwiches with more variety, tuna cakes (minimal cooking) and lots of grilling. I’ve been cooking a little as well, but when I do I have making twice as much meat or whatever so that we can have leftovers…we’ve been having a lot of taco’s as a result (Grilled chicken or chicken whatever one day, chicken taco’s next day, burgers one day taco’s next day, Zach made buffalo spaghetti yesterday and today we had buffalo tacos).

  2. Thanks for the great ideas for cold foods. We do a lot of grilling, but end up getting tired of the same foods.

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