Stay cool

4 Aug

Here in the Pacific Northwest we’ve managed to avoid the heatwave that’s been plaguing the rest of the U.S up until this point.  That’s all supposed to change this weekend as we make it into the triple digit temperatures for the first time this year.

While I’m looking forward to some of the effects of this heat (hello, homegrown tomatoes!), I’m not much of a fan of hot weather.  So, I’ve been trying to keep in mind some of my favorite tips and recipes for staying cool.

The kitchen is the prime source of unwanted heat, so I try to switch up the kind of cooking that I do when the sun is out.  The key is to avoid turning the oven on at all costs, and the stove-top should be used as little as possible.  Thankfully, there are tons of recipes that are seasonal, tasty, and use little to no heat.  The Kitchn just did a recipe roundup of 20 no-heat or low-heat recipes.  Lots of smoothies and salads there.  I’ll be making lots and lots of gazpacho once our tomatoes come around.

If you do want to cook with heat, keep your wits about you.  I’ve found that using the crock pot to cook dried beans takes longer but keeps the house much cooler than using the stove.  Couscous takes less time and heat to cook than pasta does.  Cook extra so that you can reuse leftovers rather than heating your house again to make another batch.  And just about anything can be made outdoors if you have a decent grill.  Grilled pizza is a favorite around here.

When it’s hot out, there’s no shame in cheating a little.  Pre-cooked food items are fair game.  Shred some chicken from your local deli for taco night or slice a little roast beef to use as a salad topper.  Tofu and tempeh are pre-cooked and can be added to your dinner straight from the package.

One of our favorite hot weather foods is the classic salad roll.  It’s great because you can adapt it to include whatever ingredients you already have around.  These bad boys are vegetarian, with chunks of tofu and hard-boiled egg inside.  You could easily vegan-ize them by leaving out the egg, if you so desire.  Lots of fresh veggies and herbs are required, though!

Salad rolls:

  • 1 package of rice papers
  • rice noodles, cooked according to package directions (usually soaked in hot water for 10 minutes and drained)
  • 2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 cucumber, cut into matchsticks
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
  • 1/2 package tofu, sliced
  • Lettuce leaves
  • Bean sprouts
  • Fresh herbs (mint, basil, cilantro)
  • Peanut sauce (see below)

Soak the rice paper wrapper in warm water until pliable, about 30 seconds.  Place on a work surface and load on your desired ingredients.  Wrap up like a burrito, both ends folded in and rolled up tight.  They don’t have to be perfect!

Perhaps the best thing about salad rolls is that they act as a vessel for one of the world’s greatest condiments: peanut sauce.  Here’s my go-to recipe; it’s super easy and you probably already have all the ingredients already.

Peanut sauce

  • 4 T smooth peanut butter (natural is best, if you use something else you may want to use less sweetener)
  • 1 T rice vinegar
  • 2 t soy sauce
  • 2 t honey or agave syrup
  • 2 t minced ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced fine
  • Water
  • Sriracha hot sauce to taste (optional)

Mix first six ingredients in small bowl.  Add water until desired consistency is reached, approximately 3-4 tablespoons.  Mix in a squirt of Sriracha if you so desire (you know I do).

Stay cool out there!

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