It’s been hot. Regular 30 degree afternoons in the backyard. I would NEVER complain about the heat per se, but it does require some adaptation. I spend so much of the year cold that coming up with hot food ideas doesn’t seem to be a problem, but I’ve found myself a little challenged lately. I don’t want to turn on the stove for very long, and we want to keep eating out of the garden. I also don’t want to make anything particularly involved–I just don’t have the brain power after a long afternoon sweating over the weeds.
I went looking for new ideas online yesterday, and found this great (but old) link to Mark Bittman’s 101 Simple Meals Ready in 10 Minutes or Less article in the NY Times. I love the simple and delicious sounding combinations–these kinds of recipes are really how we’re eating these days. Our ingredients are so good that I don’t want to do much to them, regardless of the heat and time factors. At the same time, you can only eat so much salad and so many sandwiches! And lots of the Bittman recipes involve meat. I’ve been a “pescatarian” (lacto-ovo + fish) for almost 20 years, and though the Skipper has recently declared himself “off the wagon”, we don’t cook meat at home (except for the Cowichan Bay Farm chicken sausages, which…you didn’t hear this from me…are worth veering off the road for).
So here are some of the meals I’ve been making lately:
1. Scrambled Eggs. Not just for breakfast anymore! I add fresh herbs and a little feta cheese, lots of ground pepper. Great with steamed new potatoes in butter or toast, and salad.
2. Variations on Salad Nicoise. These change with what’s available in the garden, so now it’s greens, onion, beets, tuna. The other day we ate this with homemade potato salad: Steamed and cooled new potatoes, mayo, pickle and a bit of pickle juice, grainy dijon, pepper and a pinch of salt.
3. Quick veggie burgers. I steamed some short grain brown rice in the afternoon, then put about 1 1/2 cups in the food processor with 1/2 can of romano beans (any soft bean or lentils will work) and 1/3 cup of toasted sunflower seeds. After processing to desired texture (I like the rice chewy), I added 2 grated carrots, 2 T of breadcrumbs (quick oats work too), 1 egg (beaten), 1 tsp each of cumin, chili powder, oregano, 2 T or so of Tamari, and lots of pepper. I sauteed a minced onion and lots of minced garlic and added that too (careful about adding your beaten egg to hot ingredients–it will curdle). Mix up, add more breadcrumbs if it’s too wet, and, ideally, chill for a few hours in the fridge. I didn’t have time, though, and they still held their shape pretty well after pan-frying. Made about 8 patties–enough for a couple of lunches. Served up with the usual suspects on our bread with avocado slices. Yum!
4. Quick stir-fries. Last night was onions, garlic, chard, and carrots sauteed with some tamari and Chinese cooking wine. Served over basmati rice with my simplified version of the awesome Rebar peanut sauce (we didn’t have any peanut butter, so I used almond butter. A little different, but still lick-the-bowl tasty): 1/4 cup almond or peanut butter, 2 T each honey and tamari or fish sauce, 2 minced cloves of garlic, juice of 1/2-1 lime (to taste), 1 t or so sesame oil, 1 tsp hot sauce (sirracha at our house). These can all be stirred together in a saucepan with a little water or just whizzed in a small food processor and used at room temperature. Delicious!
Next week if the hot temps keep up, I think I’ll venture into the cold Asian noodle salads and wraps; not usually the Skipper’s cup of tea, but just the right lightness and texture on days like these, I think.
So help me out! What are you making simply in the kitchen these days when you don’t want to cook?