Yes, you *can* cook when it gets hot. It’s just a matter of wrapping your head around what to cook—or what not to cook, as the case may be. So survey your kitchen. Look past the stove to things you don’t need to heat up. Over there is the blender. There’s the mini-prep. Beyond that is the big food processor. With that equipment plus a sharp knife, there’s an awful lot you can do without turning on a flame. Here are a few of our favorite cool-you-down recipes.
When was the last time you had raw wild salmon? Pick out the freshest, most beautiful fillets yourself, slice them and chill them, and drizzle them with lemon juice, olive oil, fried capers and razor-thin red onion slices. It’s a dish that’s as gorgeous to serve at brunch (alongside bagels and cream cheese) as it is to eat for a 98-degree-day dinner, alone, with a glass of chilled Chardonnay.
Somehow we can forget about tofu when it’s hot outside, but the soy protein is built for the dog days of summer. All you need to do is press it or marinate it and it transforms, competing with paneer or feta for a super-satisfying texture. Consider this tofu-avocado ceviche next time the mercury rises.
As is true of crudo, beef tartare is a dish we rarely consider making at home, but when it’s hot as all get out and you need a fast hit of protein, what’s tastier? The key to this recipe is that pink Himalayan salt block, which infuses each bite of tartare with a saltiness so precise it’s almost sweet. If you must have toasts alongside, use the toaster, and keep that oven and broiler off, off, off.
Summer is when you want bright, acidic, fresh, light flavors. Salade Niçoise is a one-stop shop for that experience. Plenty of olives and two anchovy fillets contribute tart and salty notes. The whole dish is bulked up on the protein front with hard-boiled eggs and a hearty fillet of grilled salmon. Best of all, you shake the dressing that brings it all together in a jar. It’s just red wine vinegar, olive oil and pepper, and it works on this combination and on anything similar (such as cornichons, tuna, roasted red pepper strips, and Kalamata olives).
5. Charcuterie Platter
Feeling snacky or having people over, but don’t want to set out a whole spread? Consider easy, breezy charcuterie. Technically French for meat and meat-adjacent dishes (or the place one buys them), the term has colloquially expanded to include cheese, olives, and little pickles. All you need is a good-looking platter or cheese board upon which to serve them, and you’re off to the races. Favorite combos include saucisson sec, black olives, Brillat-Savarin, baguette and sliced tomatoes. Or snag an excellent liver mousse to serve with crostini, cornichons, grainy mustard and sliced apples. The sky’s the limit, all you have to do is unwrap everything, and there’s something for everyone.
OK, yes, this delicious chilled beet and cucumber soup entails a tiny bit of cooking. But it’s on the stovetop; the oven stays turned off. Once you’ve tenderized the beets and seasoned them with simmered onions and broth, you puree the heck out of them. The resulting liquid is strained until it’s as gorgeous as a Bloody Mary, then spiked with more beets, cucumbers, sour cream, and dill. Silky-smooth, but with welcome texture, it’s the perfect light porch lunch.
There’s a reason everyone thinks of gazpacho when it gets hot outside. It’s fantastic. Yellow heirloom tomatoes are the key to this knockout recipe, which benefits from the double brightness punch of vinegar and lemon juice. Acid and salt, and testing the levels of both as you go, are key to making it as delicious as possible. We also love the French bread used in the base; it adds thickness and is an excellent way to use up food about to go stale. Don’t skip the cherry tomato garnish to make the dish pretty as a picture.