Okay, admittedly, this has been one of the coolest summers in mid-Missouri in a long time, but we’ve still had plenty of hot days. Without all that summer sunshine and heat we wouldn’t have the produce bounty we’re lucky to have here in the Midwest – fat juicy tomatoes, cantaloupes, sweet corn, cucumbers, bushy bunches of basil, peaches, watermelon, okra, eggplant and on and on, all wonderfully and locally available. This appeal is obvious if you attend farmers’ markets – they are teeming with people scouting for the freshest picked and most flavorful fruits and vegetables. That said, as the days of summer wear on and the heat and humidity debilitate, preparing meals over a hot stove and heating up the house drops way down on the list of my favorite things to do. Is that true for you? Well, if so, fear not. You can eat well without cooking (or cooking very little). When the temperatures rise, it’s time to resort to chilled soups, smoothies, salads, sandwiches and other raw food recipes to feed yourself and your family. DBRL’s collection is replete with cookbooks featuring these “un-cooked” meals.
One of my boys’ all-time favorite meals is Pan-Bagnat (pronunciation: pan ban-YAH). It is essentially a salad Nicoise (from the Nice area of France) on a crusty roll, packed with lots of goodies that can be varied – tuna, hard-boiled eggs, Greek olives, slivered red onion, tomatoes and provolone – drizzled with olive oil or pesto. It’s a complete meal in and of itself and so easy to make and divinely delicious to eat. I really ought to make it more often. We packed this treat along with some fresh bing cherries and orangeade kombucha for a recent bike ride picnic, and everyone went home with happy taste buds and satisfied bellies.
Another nice aspect to leaving the stove behind and focusing on these cooler meals is that they tend to involve less time in the making, leaving more time for other activities, like going for a swim – another great way to take the edge off the heat.