As the temperature outside climbs, it becomes harder and harder to keep the inside of your house cool. On those days, the thought of standing over a hot stove or turning on the oven is almost enough to melt you into a puddle. And besides, do you really want to eat a warm meal when you’re already sweating?
But don’t forgo the idea of dinner altogether! Cold dishes are the key to getting your daily nutrition without overheating. These simple no-cook meals will see you through the hot summer months.
Use Up Tomatoes in a Caprese Salad
When your backyard garden and neighborhood farmer’s market are bursting with ripe tomatoes, put them to good use in a caprese salad. This simple salad is the ideal showcase for the rich flavors of a garden-fresh tomato. A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil helps marry together the layers of tomato, mozzarella and basil leaves.
To take full advantage of the summer’s tomato harvest and add interest to the presentation, use multiple types of tomatoes. Slice the largest ones and lay them on your serving platter first. Then halve grape or cherry tomatoes, and sprinkle them over the sliced tomato rounds.
Get Your Seafood Fix with Crab Rolls
No, crab meat isn’t the least expensive protein out there by any means. However, whipping up a batch of crab rolls is cheaper than preparing lobster rolls, the dish’s more common cousin, or going out for a seafood dinner. You’ll need two 6-ounce cans of crab to prepare four servings of these rolls, and each will probably cost $3 to $5.
You’re getting good nutrition for your money. Crab meat is low in fat, calories and mercury. It’s a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and also provides B vitamins.
Although the meat isn’t the cheapest, the buns can be. After mixing the crab in a mayo-based sauce, just scoop it into a standard hot dog bun lined with a lettuce leaf.
Cool Off with a Cold Soup
Homemade soup is often touted as a low-cost meal, but when the temperature rises, its appeal declines. Chilled soup to the rescue! Like many stovetop soups, cold varieties are packed with produce. The difference is that they go through a spin in the blender instead of a stint on the stove.
With about four average-size cucumbers and a handful of other ingredients, you can quickly whip up enough cucumber soup to feed four people. Serve the refreshing dish with a side of olives, salami, and sliced bread.
Layer a Salad for a Striking Presentation
When you have a dish to bring to a potluck or just want to impress your family, layer a cornbread salad in a clear bowl. This Mexican-inspired dish layers cornbread crumbles, shredded cheese, corn kernels and canned beans for a colorful presentation.
To keep this recipe no-cook, purchase prepared corn muffins from your grocery store. If you want to save a few dollars by preparing your own cornbread at home, bake it first thing in the morning when the outdoor temperatures are coolest.
Pick up a Rotisserie Chicken for a Convenient Meal Starter
If your local supermarket sells hot rotisserie chickens, these can be an easy way to add meat to a no-cook meal. These pre-cooked birds are often sold for a lower price than raw whole chickens. Use the rotisserie meat while it’s still hot, or refrigerate it first for a cold meal.
One dish to try with rotisserie chicken is a simple Asian salad. Mix orange juice and other ingredients for a light dressing. Pour it over shredded chicken, chopped snow peas and sliced mango for a dish that offers refreshment in every bite.
Feature Seasonal Sweet Corn in a Wrap
Corn on the cob is a classic summer flavor, but for a cold meal, try removing the corn from the cob. Combine lunchmeat, sliced corn kernels, lettuce and two types of tomatoes in a tortilla for a quick and easy wrap. An oil-and-vinegar dressing adds an extra layer of flavor.
This meal is handy for on-the-go summer days or nights. To help the wrap hold together, encase it in aluminum foil. Peel back the foil in stages as you eat, just as you would with a burrito from your local taqueria.
Go Vegetarian with a Sandwich
Lunchmeat sandwiches are common, but you can mix it up with a meat-free take on this classic meal. Try bagels spread with hummus and piled high with fresh vegetables, for example. Made from chickpeas, hummus boasts both protein and fiber to help you feel satisfied. A slice of cheese on your sandwich adds flavor and also gives you additional protein.
For a hummus sandwich, you can use prepared hummus or make your own. Mixing a homemade batch is easy if you own a food processor. Start with canned garbanzo beans, and puree them along with a handful of additional ingredients. Use this spread not only on sandwiches but also as a dip for vegetables or crackers.
What’s your idea of a perfect meal for a summer day: a no-cook dish or something hot? Personally, I think you can’t go wrong with a simple sandwich. Leave your favorite hot-day meal ideas in the comments, and please share this article with your social media friends.