With summer in full swing and interest in cooking flagging, what to do about meals?
Many of us look for cooler options when we’re preparing meals for ourselves and our families rather than cooking dinner over a hot stove (or using the oven). Here are a few ideas for staying cool while prepping meals in the summer heat.
Who said food has to be hot? Think sandwiches and main dish salads. Remember to plan around the USDA MyPlate: Include a protein, whole grain, veggie and fruit.
If you are still working from home, take advantage of the cooler temperatures in the morning and prep such items as pasta, hard boiled eggs and grains. Toss cooked pasta or grains with a bit of oil or fat to keep from sticking and place in the refrigerator for later.
One of my favorite summer meals is pasta salad. Once it’s made, I have meals at the ready for days.
Here’s my recipe:
- Cook and cool a pound of gemelli pasta. Or any short cut such as rotini, farfalle or penne. Be sure to cook it al dente.
- While the pasta is cooling, chop the following in bite-sized pieces: green and red bell peppers, small red onion, broccoli (steam a bit first), a one-pound chunk each of mozzarella cheese and hard Italian salami, 3.8 ounce can of sliced black olives and a can of drained quartered artichoke hearts.
- Now it’s time to dress your salad. Add red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, chopped fresh (or dried) basil and/or oregano and parsley, salt and pepper.
- Toss well and enjoy!
Mix a cool entrée salad. Start with a green leafy base with items such as romaine, leaf or other lettuces. Add other colorful vegetables that you like as arugula, radicchio, curly endive, cucumber, tomatoes, or bell peppers. The sky is the limit!
Top it with freshly grilled fish such as salmon, chicken, pork tenderloin or beef steak thinly sliced. Or take one of these protein foods left from a prior dinner and top the salad. Add dressing of your choice and enjoy its deliciousness!
Dinner does not need to be cooked. Instead, make cool sandwiches. Take some fresh crusty bread or rolls, lay down lean meat such as leftover chicken breast, layer in a slice of cheese such as mozzarella or whatever suits your fancy.
Add loads of veggies, such as lettuce leaves, sliced tomato, pickle, pepperoncini, onion, bell peppers and whatever else you enjoy. Add mustard, a bit of real mayo or hummus as a spread if you’d like. Or eat it Italian style by adding a few drops of olive oil, red wine vinegar and herbs. Bonus points if you use whole wheat bread!
It felt like the warmer weather would never get here this year. Now that it is, let’s take advantage of all that summer brings us – while social distancing, of course. You can enjoy delicious meals that just happen to be better-for-you!