I wrote this a few years back. We had been having an abnormally hot and sticky summer one year, and meals became a challenge. I couldn’t abide the idea of using the stove, so I kept to the old favorites that are great on a hot summer night.
I know that it’s only the first day of June, but already we are experiencing some pretty sticky weather. And with that kind of weather, nobody wants to cook. Even heating up a bowl of soup in the microwave sounds like too much work. Of course there are always the salad-and-sandwich suppers; cool and low maintenance.
But there are other options for hot weather meals. The following are five of my favorites because they are not only delicious, but are pretty easy to prepare. In no particular order, they are:
“*Iron Sandwiches” – these are great on hot nights and are also great for picnics. They are a take-off on paninis, which are wonderful, but not a lot of fun to make on a hot night.
“Salad With Meaty Bits” – make your own salad (or just go buy a salad kit) and add in chopped ham, chicken, feta cheese, olives, shrimp, leftover steak, etc.
“Mediterranean Plate” – pick up a few tubs of hummus (my own favorites are lemon, red pepper, garlic, and pine nut). Fill up a platter with baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, cut-up green or red peppers, celery sticks, sliced zucchini and cukes, etc. Add some sticks of string cheese, rolled up ham or salami, and open up a few boxes of crackers, and start dipping. (Great with a glass of wine.)
“Lettuce Cups” – using Boston lettuce (they very obligingly curl up into “cups”), fill them with chicken or seafood or ham salad. Cut up a loaf of crusty bread, and serve either with butter, or put out small cups filled with olive oil with a little balsamic vinegar drizzled in and a sprinkle of rosemary.
“Strawberry Shortcake Miracle Supper” – If you’re a Yankee like me, “real” strawberry shortcake starts with homemade biscuits, not spongecake. You can either make your own and freeze them, or buy some at a bakery. In any case, split the biscuit in half, ladle on as much strawberries and their juice as possible, and top with whipped cream. Again, homemade is better, but of course you can buy it in a spray can.
FYI: I am not going to dignify using that faux product that sounds like “fool pip,” either.
The story of how strawberry shortcake became a summer supper began when I was in grade school. It was a very hot evening, and I had just come home from playing with a friend. Mom and Dad were sitting on the front porch eating strawberry shortcake.
This was so far from normal that I actually held my breath. My mother always made nourishing and delicious meals, and no one ate dessert until the meal was over. As I stumbled up the porch stairs, Mom gave me one of her “well, so what?” looks and said, “it’s just too hot to cook, so we’re having dessert for supper.”
I never forgot how wonderful it was to eat dessert for dinner. I highly recommend it.
*Directions for the “iron sandwich,” so named by my mother:
Split a sub roll, and spread with mayo or mustard or whatever you prefer. My personal favorite is cilantro lime creamy salad dressing. Fill the roll with cold roast beef, onions, pickles and arugula (or whatever you like), then wrap the sandwich tightly in waxed paper.
Put it in the ‘fridge and press it with a flat iron (or a heavy plate, etc. You get the idea.) This is why they’re called “iron sandwiches.” Flattening like this melds all the flavors together, and trust me; it’s a wonderful thing.