It's too hot to cook
June 22, 2011 8:08 PM   Subscribe

It's too hot to cook.

Hell, it's practically too hot to eat.

The internet is full of cold bean/corn/veg salads which are really not to my taste. Complicated recipes are fine. Exotic ingredients & spices are fine. What's not fine is roasting in the kitchen. Difficulty: No access to a grill.

What do you make when it's too hot to stay in the kitchen?
posted by Space Kitty to Food & Drink (54 answers total) 83 users marked this as a favorite
posted by mkb at 8:12 PM on June 22, 2011

posted by ceribus peribus at 8:13 PM on June 22, 2011 [5 favorites]

posted by Seamus at 8:13 PM on June 22, 2011

I probably should have mentioned I'm looking for links to recipes. Thanks!
posted by Space Kitty at 8:15 PM on June 22, 2011

I switch to mostly-veggie burritos in this weather. I'll warm the tortilla (with cheese & refried beans, if I use them) slightly in the microwave, to make them pliable, but by the time I eat them they are more tepid than warm.

But the fresh veggies (diced tomatoes, onions, cilantro, lettuce) make them wonderful summer food!
posted by IAmBroom at 8:15 PM on June 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

Gazpacho (with many variations, like shrimp)
posted by IAmBroom at 8:19 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Go out to eat? Microwave? Deli meat sandwiches?

Buy a roasted chicken from your local grocery store. Usually can get sides too.

Hummus & pita, maybe some feta, some olives. Or french bread with protein/dairy of choice.

Or make some margaritas and use them to cool down during/after cooking.
posted by amoeba syndrome at 8:20 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

whole foods' recipe feed is doling out mostly warm-weather things like this. add it to your RSS reader via the microscopic link in the left column.
posted by patricking at 8:21 PM on June 22, 2011

Right there with you. We've moved our cooking schedule around to work with the cooler times of day. Early morning (and I mean 6-7) we do things like boil eggs, boil shrimp. Later in the day, we can assemble salads with romaine and Louis dressing, a hard boiled egg, and maybe some avocado.
Pretty much all seafood is good this way. Salmon, shrimp, lobster are all just fine cooked in the morning, then held in the fridge until you're ready to eat.
Also consider things like tuna salad, crab salad and salmon salad.
For cold soups, consider Cucumber or Gazpacho.
posted by Gilbert at 8:21 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Question: do you have a patio or balcony? When things really suck, I take it outside. I have my toaster oven on the patio, plus a grill. There are things that are easier to do outdoors, not heating up the kitchen, but still cooking. And I'm not afraid to cook all my proteins at midnight or 6am, if necessary (it's actually a weirdly pleasant experience to get up early and cook), then assemble and microwave, if necessary, later.

I tend to cook for 3-5 days at a time anyway. I usually make a sort of egg casserole for breakfasts, plus a ton of chicken, taco/fajita meat, lentils, and a big batch of something green (steamed broccoli, spinach, asparagus), which I use to assemble meals for the next several days.

Also, are you near a Trader Joe's? They have a number of prepared or partially-prepared foods that'll go a long way towards a meal with less cooking.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:38 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Recipes for 101 simple salads should have plenty of what you're looking for. It spans vegan, vegetarian and meat based recipes.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 8:45 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've been making a very simple green gazpacho. Sauteed spinach + cream or yogurt + lime juice. Only takes about two minutes of cooking time and it can be made raw. I usually cook the spinach in a bit of veggie stock, and add extra veggies like lettuce and cucumber. Then chill.

Kongguksu is a cold Korean noodle soup. Essentially it's wheat noodles (like spaghetti noodles) in a "broth" made from unsweetened soy milk (which can be homemade) garnished with sesame seeds, tomatom cucumber, salt, and ice. It's bland but incredibly cool and refreshing. I usually go light on the noodles and add more veggies. Here's a recipe that I haven't tried and here is a much more flavorful icy noodle dish called naengmyeon. It uses buckwheat noodles, which cook much faster than regular noodles and are delicious chilled.
posted by acidic at 8:49 PM on June 22, 2011 [3 favorites]

Ooh, forgot to mention Campechana, which is just a gussied-up Mexican seafood cocktail. You can use pre-cooked seafood, then just doctor it up to your taste. I've done it with everything from shrimp to clams to oysters to fish to crab.
posted by Gilbert at 9:05 PM on June 22, 2011

In the middle of the night, when things are cool, cook a whole big batch of rice porridge (Chinese congee) (recipes here: ). mix it up with little bits of fish, meat and/or veg (bits of salad/spring onion is good) if you like. **the porridge should be watery***. Leave the big batch of congee to cool and then stick the stuff in the fridge.

Serve chilled and watery in the traditional Chinese hot-and-humid-summer-weather-eats way, when it's hot during the day, maybe with a little sesame oil and an egg, along with (for the table) cold side dishes of yummy pickled vegetables (like bamboo, mustard stem, and turnip), thousand year old egg (serve peeled and sliced with soy sauce and sesame oil poured over it), tasty fermented bean curd (I recommend the red/pink variety), salty duck eggs (the prized yolks are luxuriously rich if you get good ones; eat the salty whites with the bland congee) stir-fried peanuts (serve with soy sauce), and everyone's favorite, rousong (there's a bunch of other things too but that's just a selection of some of the most common items that go with congee - find them all down at your local Chinese/Asian supermarket ; if you have congee for breakfast, maybe you can even find the traditional breakfast fried cruller to along with it.).
posted by Bwithh at 9:08 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

An additional note about fried "cruller" mentioned in my post above. The link I used focusses on eating it for breakfast in the Taiwanese style. To eat with congee, I suggest slicing it up and dipping lightly in soy sauce which is more mainland Chinese (I think).
posted by Bwithh at 9:11 PM on June 22, 2011

More Bittman: 101 Summer Meals
posted by sigmagalator at 9:20 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Gazpacho is good. I shall share with you my lazy winn COMPLETELY UNAUTHENTIC gazpacho recipe!

So you get a bunch of cherry tomatoes or regular tomatoes that you've sliced up. You throw them in the blender once they're washed. It will not look like restaurant gazpacho. It will look weird, and pink and anemic, but persevere.

Then you get you a couple of kosher pickles. OMG! I hear you scream! But that is where the unauthentic thing comes in. Throw the pickles in with the tomatoes and blend them all up. Woo! This is like fusion cuisine or something!

Get a wee teeny bit of crushed garlic. Throw it in, too.

Merrily hurl in some olive oil and possibly a tiny bit of chopped onion. Blend for like a split second.

Pour it out, garnish with some cilantro and enjoy!

You can pull basically the same stunt of delight by replacing the pickles with some shredded basil leaves, but I love the pickles and they're very cooling.
posted by winna at 9:47 PM on June 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

Big tub of pasta salad -- a little work with veg chopping, but it'll last a while in the fridge and how nice to have something cold and tasty to scoop a bowl of anytime you like. Sorry for no recipe recommendations; mine is pasta, feta, vinaigrette, fresh basil if available, shredded carrots, marinated artichoke hearts, sliced plum tomatoes, diced peppers, sometimes sliced olives...lots of things can go in a pasta salad.

Caprese salad -- put leftovers on a naan, heat, eat as pizza.

A Google image search will help with sorting out what you want in your ploughman's lunch -- I have to have Branston pickle, some superlative bread, pickled onions, a few gherkins, a great old cheddar and a few other cheeses of note, half an apple, a tiny bit of salad, maybe a boiled egg, maybe one hot savoury pastry item.

Aoili garni -- garlic mayo with lots of cold boiled veg, egg, tomato, beans, etc to dip into it

Limonada -- throw lemons or limes in the blender with water and sugar, strain, chill and drink

I also like keeping a plate of thinly sliced tomatoes, vidalia onions, cheeses, peppers, cucumbers, &c in the fridge, and throwing those on Ryvita or similar with a layer of mayo

I like Costco (and good Italian delis) because I like stocking my fridge with huge jars of good artichoke hearts, marinated mushrooms, olives, roasted red peppers, pepperoncini, feta, and so on, and with these jars you can put together really quite good pizzas, pasta salads, antipasto plates, and many other things with very minimal effort.
posted by kmennie at 9:48 PM on June 22, 2011 [4 favorites]

Sandwiches and wraps. Start with thick slices of good herbed bread or pita (rosemary, sesame, etc) and a layer of cream cheese or cheddar. Toast the bread lightly first and put the cheese in/on for a minute so it warms to open the flavor some, spread some pesto/good mustard/easy dressing/whatever on the other half, then stuff or pile on cukes, tomatoes, onions, spinach or whatever you have. Spicy, delicious, filling and relatively cool.

The same with whole wheat or nut bread, peanut butter, cheddar and fresh fruit - I swear by grapes, cut in half and pressed into the peanut butter cut side down - is also totally filling and deliciously cool as a meal.
posted by mediareport at 9:57 PM on June 22, 2011

I love the recipes on Green Kitchen Stories, a vegetarian food blog run by a Swedish/Danish couple. Plenty of salad ideas as well as raw desserts that don't require baking.
posted by peripathetic at 10:12 PM on June 22, 2011

More Mark Bittman suggestions!
posted by scody at 10:33 PM on June 22, 2011

Crock pot. It won't heat up the kitchen. I know, you're thinking all winter food and stews and hearty rib-sticking meals. Hear me out. Cook down a shoulder of pork or beef or lamb with rough-chopped onions, carrot, celery, herbs, maybe tomatoes, and some sherry or wine and the basic spices of your choice.

The next day, discard the bones and any hunks of fat. Pull the meat and pack it in your leftover deli containers with the veggies/herbs and deliciously rich cooking liquid (extraneous fat will rise to the top in the fridge.)

And then you've got a seriously versatile source of delicious umami protein to include with ingredients requiring minimal cooking and all the fresh herbs you can find.

The pulled meat will reheat in a skillet in two minutes, add more distinctive spices at this point if you like (garam masala, cumin/coriander/cayenne, etc.) Couscous cooks in a few minutes, use more of the cooking liquid and chopped dried fruit and slivered almonds. Tortillas warm in a skillet in a few minutes, add salsa and well-rinsed canned beans. Orzo cooks in a few minutes, add sundried tomatoes and jarred roasted peppers and artichokes and olives. Polenta reheats in a few minutes, again, use your antipasti. Warm pitas in a skillet, add feta and cukes and tahini.
posted by desuetude at 10:37 PM on June 22, 2011 [11 favorites]

These are great! Thanks! I've always loved congee, but never heard of serving it cold. The cold noodles sound like just the thing & I'm loving the cold drink ideas, too. Please keep the suggestions coming.

PS: Grilling is totally out of the question. It was 114 degrees out today and I'm only leaving my sweet, beautiful air conditioning in a dire emergency.
posted by Space Kitty at 10:44 PM on June 22, 2011

Cold rolls.

Banh mi.

posted by obiwanwasabi at 11:14 PM on June 22, 2011

Use a solar cooker.
posted by aniola at 11:15 PM on June 22, 2011

cold soup ?
posted by Oli D. at 12:22 AM on June 23, 2011

We've been cooking in the morning, when it's cool out, then reheating later. I did grill yesterday, at 8am, and that worked out great. Also, cook multiple meals at once. For instance, I grilled steak, chicken and hot dogs, so we'd have grilled meat for a few days.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:33 AM on June 23, 2011

Pesto (if you can deal with boiling water for noodles).
Assorted non-tomato gazpacho recipes from the LA Times.
When it's really too fing hot, I enjoy cold veggies like carrots, celery and cucumbers dipped in mustard. Throw in some cheese, hummus and bread and it can count as dinner.
Slices of tomato on basil drizzled with olive oil and balsamic and sprinkled with salt and pepper are also pretty great on a hot day. Treat yourself to some good bread to soak up the juices.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 1:28 AM on June 23, 2011

Do you have an outside electrical outlet? If so, use your crockpot, rice cooker, etc outdoors to avoid heating up the house.
posted by marsha56 at 1:49 AM on June 23, 2011

I'm a bit confused by your point about things that aren't to your taste -- are you saying the recipes you've found are not to your taste, or that you don't like cold bean/corn/veg salads on principle?

Because one of my go-to books for summers is the Moosewood "Daily Special" cookbook, which has nothing but soup and salad recipes -- and the "soups" include chilled soups -- but some of them involve beans. Then again, some involve grains and pasta. In fact, I'm having a Persian rice-and-pistachio-and-currant salad paired with a red-lentil-and-red-pepper salad for lunch today.

Just wanted to clarify the parameters before I recommended a couple things.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:54 AM on June 23, 2011

This Mexican bean salad always gets my juices flowing!
posted by tvdveer at 5:18 AM on June 23, 2011

This creole rice salad is great. You do have to hard-boil eggs and cook some rice, but you can do that at night when it is cooler, put everything together and stick it in the fridge for the next day's lunch or dinner.
posted by mikepop at 5:19 AM on June 23, 2011

If you have a toaster oven, sometimes that'll do the trick without heating up the house. Worked for me the other (hot) night when making some stuffed zucchini.
posted by Dr. Wu at 6:46 AM on June 23, 2011

Lately we've been buying frozen chicken breasts in bulk, brining them, and then cooking them all off in the middle of the night (with the a/c blasting) and then freezing them again.

I use a very basic brine: salt, sugar, water, bay leaves, peppercorns, garlic. If I'm feeling crazy I might add some candied ginger or some allspice berries. Then I put the chicken breasts on a cookie sheet and add different seasoning to two breasts a piece. Some of the seasonings I've used:

* curry powder and orange zest
* bbq rub and cracked pepper (when I reheat we put some bbq sauce on these)
* dried italian herbs and lemon zest
* chile powder, cumin, garlic powder

After they cook, I let them cool down completely and then stick them in the freezer. The day before I want to use them, I just defrost in the fridge and then eat them with couscous (five minutes of stove time!) and some fresh veggies or cut them up and add them to my favorite cold salad or whatever strikes your fancy. You can cook them from frozen if you want them a little warm as well--since they're already cooked they just need to warm up just 10 minutes on the grill or in the pan.
posted by Kimberly at 6:48 AM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

super yummy broccoli slaw salad:

Oriental Slaw

2 pkgs. Broccoli slaw
1/2 c. celery (opt.)
1 bunch green onions
1 c. sunflower seeds
¼ c. almonds (opt.)
½ c. oil
½ c. sugar
¼ c. salad vinegar
1 ½ t. soy sauce
2 pkgs. Ramen Noodles, crumbled

Mix broccoli slaw, celery, green onions, sunflower seeds and almonds in bowl.

Mix oil, sugar, vinegar and soy sauce in small bowl.

Pour dressing over salad mixture and toss.

Sprinkle noodles on top just before serving.

It makes 4 quarts so you may want to halve it if you don't want that much food. I make this and eat it for lunch all week. SOOO good.
posted by morganannie at 7:40 AM on June 23, 2011

Lately I have been poaching chicken breasts a few at at time and then I have them on hand for salads or sandwiches. It's great because you bring the liquid to a boil, then put the chicken in, put a lid on it and turn off the heat and let it sit for 20 minutes or so.
posted by blacktshirtandjeans at 7:47 AM on June 23, 2011

I don't know if you'd count this as a bean salad... it contains garbanzos but it's mostly couscous. It's my favorite light refreshing summer meal. It's a Weight Watcher's recipe but it doesn't taste like diet food.

Couscous Salad
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 8:31 AM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Tomato-Mushroom Bruschetta

French bread
15 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
4 oz. can chopped mushrooms
2 T. fresh basil, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 T. capers
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium bowl, stir together tomatoes, mushrooms, basil, garlic, capers, and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Serve the mixture on French bread sliced at an angle.
posted by johnofjack at 8:46 AM on June 23, 2011

Oh yeah! I just remembered: that bruschetta recipe originally came from a book called The Storm Gourmet, which is all about things you can make to eat without using electricity.
posted by johnofjack at 9:11 AM on June 23, 2011

Hi, EmpressCallipygos -

The thing about bean salads is the most common recipes I find are a variations on a theme of cold beans, raw onions, corn & bell peppers in vinaigrette and I just really don't like that combo. I actually do like all manner of beans & lentils, just not that preparation. The two salads you mentioned sound really good. Green salads are ok, but not really exciting or filling. Before the heat wave, I was obsessed with learning to cook Indian, Persian, Ethiopian & Korean food and I was hoping to keep some of that variety going.

In an ideal world, I'd eat sushi or steak salad every day but that's just dreaming.
posted by Space Kitty at 12:04 PM on June 23, 2011

I'm not sure if this breaks your guidelines, as it does contain beans and raw onions, but I made it last night and it was delicious: Tuna, White Bean, & Roasted Red Pepper Salad.

I added some pasta, but you could just serve it with bread, too.
posted by palliser at 12:27 PM on June 23, 2011

This cold cucumber-avocado soup saves me during the summer:

* 1/2 medium cucumber, peeled and cut into 4 pieces
* 1 ripe small California avocado, quartered
* 1 scallion, cut into large pieces
* 1 garlic clove
* 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
* 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
* 1/2 cup plain yogurt
* 1/2 cup cold water
* 1/2 cup ice cubes

In a blender, puree all ingredients until smooth, and season with salt and pepper.

Serve soup garnished with coriander. Eat it with some tasty bread.

This recipe makes 2 servings, though if you're like me you'll eat it all yourself over the course of a day.
posted by wondermouse at 12:33 PM on June 23, 2011

coriander=cilantro leaves, not the seeds.
posted by wondermouse at 12:34 PM on June 23, 2011

Remember that cold/frozen items require more seasoning than things served warm or hot, because cold dulls the flavors.
posted by cyndigo at 1:28 PM on June 23, 2011

Gotcha. I'd definitely get the aforementioned "Daily Special" cookbook from Moosewood, because they have a ton of recipes that still fit the bill. Their salads even come in different "main dish" and "side dish" categories.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:31 PM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Cottage cheese+ deli meat+vegetables.
Frozen fruit, blended with some milk for dessert.
posted by leigh1 at 4:12 PM on June 23, 2011

This is the only chicken salad I'll eat, because mayo is disgusting. This one has a very light mustard dressing instead. The chicken and roasted red pepper are the only cooked ingredients, and both can be cooked beforehand in non-heating-up-the-house ways (seconding the Martha Stewart 20-min poach method mentioned above; works like a charm) or purchased precooked.

Well it calls for bacon too but you could fake (bits) or omit.

OP, are you down with quinoa-based salads?
posted by jessicapierce at 7:34 PM on June 23, 2011

Yes! Love quinoa.
posted by Space Kitty at 8:05 PM on June 23, 2011

This is KILLER with quinoa substituted for the couscous, although I fear it may fall into the bean-onion-pepper zone you don't care for. But it's so good I figured it was worth mentioning.

Again, the dressing is strong and meant to be used quite lightly, which means it isn't as gloppy or weird as some cold bean salads get. If I remember correctly, that dressing wants a lot of tweaking to taste like anything other than straight lime juice, but once you get it to your preferred level of herby/spiciness, it's really great.

Quinoa cooks so quickly, and in a covered pot so you won't heat up the house, that you might think about using it in place of rice whenever you can. That + microwave-steamed veggies + a pre-made sauce = not a bad dinner.
posted by jessicapierce at 8:21 PM on June 23, 2011

And this cashew-snow pea-chicken thing cooks in a flash if you use shredded pre-cooked chicken. It's good cold or at room temp, too.
posted by jessicapierce at 8:28 PM on June 23, 2011

Quinoa salad:
1 C. quinoa, rinsed (better to soak it for 15 minutes, then rinse it)
2 C. water
1 15-oz can black beans, drained
1/4 red onion, diced
2 tomatoes, cored and diced (or a 15-oz can of chunky tomatoes)
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 C. corn, fresh or frozen
2 T. canola oil
2 T red wine vinegar
2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
the juice of 1/2 lime
a pinch of cayenne (optional)

In a medium saucepan, add the quinoa and water and bring to a simmer. Cook on medium heat, covered, until all of the water is absorbed (usually 10 - 15 minutes). Fluff and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining ingredients.

Blend in the quinoa and chill the salad for 1 hour before serving.
posted by johnofjack at 9:44 AM on June 24, 2011

I'm currently fixated on this Moroccan carrot salad recipe. It's really good, really easy, nice in hot weather, and will keep in the fridge for three or more days (I assume it would last more than three, but it only took me three days to finish off the vat of it I made on Monday).
posted by Lexica at 4:11 PM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

I make a cold tuna/quinoa/bean salad that goes vaguely as follows. It may be different enough from your usual hated bean salads that you might like it:

A can of good quality tuna packed in olive oil.
A can of whatever beans you feel like, usually I like pinto or kidney.
A proportional amount of cooked & cooled quinoa. I never measure the stuff so just use as much as you want to balance with everything else.
A seedless cucumber.
A red or orange bell pepper.
A minced garlic clove or two, maybe some scallion.
Feta cheese.
Italian dressing (or whatever - you can use olive oil and vinegar and assorted seasonings).

Cut everything up and mix it together. Add more seasoning if you like. Use as much cilantro as you want, or if you hate cilantro you can use parsley. DO NOT ADD TOMATO, and I say this as someone who loves tomatoes.

This salad is good to eat cold for a few days.
posted by wondermouse at 8:43 AM on June 25, 2011

Turkey Couscous salad

boil water, add couscous and raisins, cover. wait 5 min, fluff.

Take 1/2 lb of deli turkey, cut into thin strips.

Wash a bag of arugula and chop.

Toast some walnuts. chop.

Grate two carrots.

Squeeze a lemon with 6 tablespoons of olive oil. Salt & Pepper.


Mix it all together in a bowl!
posted by dracomarca at 10:28 AM on June 27, 2011

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