Soaring temperatures can sap anyone’s interest in cooking, especially when it means heating up the kitchen. This is unfortunate since summertime offers a short-lived bounty of fresh fruits and veggies to savor. Fresh summer salads are a common go-to for hot days. Yet there are times you want more substance than a salad (although this late-summer salad may change your mind). Here are ideas for healthy meals if you can’t stand the heat in the kitchen:
Outdoor grilling is an obvious way to avoid heating the kitchen. Look beyond burgers and hot dogs — grilled vegetables are delicious. Portobello mushrooms, bell peppers, and zucchini are especially well-suited for the grill. Try this grilled zucchini, tomato, and mozzarella wrap.
Did you know you can grill avocados? This grilled avocado and tandoori chicken recipe will make you a believer.
True, pastas and grains require heat for cooking, but you can cook them early in the day before it gets too hot — or use leftovers from a previous meal. You can also find precooked quinoa, brown rice, or wild rice in many grocery stores. Precooked quinoa is a great shortcut for this curry quinoa salad.
Salads made with whole grains such as farro, quinoa, or bulgur can be surprisingly hearty due to their high fiber content. Add in veggies, dressing, and additional protein of your choice to make a simple, complete meal. Check out this fantastic guide from Linda Shiue, MD, on making grain bowls.
Pasta salads are a timeless summer dish. This blueberry orzo and sweet corn salad and summer garden pasta feature summer veggies at their peak and make for excellent leftovers for lunch the next day.
Fresh (not fried) spring rolls like these Vietnamese fresh spring rolls with rainbow vegetables and tofu are cool, flavorful, and veggie-packed. Swap out shrimp for the tofu if you prefer. You may want to make a double portion of the spicy peanut dipping sauce to enjoy in a grain bowl the next day.
You don’t have to turn on the oven to make this hearty eggplant sandwich — searing the eggplant on the stovetop maximizes flavor without generating much heat. Pair with watermelon granita for a cooling and light dessert.
Don’t let the heat force you into a take-out habit. With these recipes, you can enjoy the flavors and nutrition that come from summer produce.