Almanac

Keeping your cool with food

Though the 100-degree days are behind us, we still have plenty of warm days ahead, and such days often call for cold meals. With gardens at their highest output this time of year, cold dishes are easy to put together.

Salads

Of course the first thing cold food might bring to mind is a salad. But salads don’t always have to mean lettuce and tomato – though that might be a good base. Here’s a few ideas:

Chef Salad

Combine a protein with cheese and an assortment of julienned fresh vegetables. Arrange on top of a bed of lettuce if you like, or just toss the above together and serve in a bowl with dressing of your choice. Garnish with chopped nuts or sunflower seeds for a bit of crunch. 

Panzanella

Also know as Italian Bread Salad. It’s traditionally made with just toasted (or stale) bread, chopped tomatoes and basil, tossed with a vinaigrette. It can be served along side some cold, leftover salmon or chicken, or add garbanzo beans to the salad for protein. Mozzarella cheese cubes are also a good addition.

Meal Salads

Make use of your leftovers and choose your salad around the protein you have. Taco salad is easy to do, or try a Tuna Niçoise, usually with hard-boiled eggs and olives, it is also often made with the addition of cooked red potatoes and green beans. Chinese chicken salad is another direction to go, use marinated baked tofu for a vegetarian version.

Sandwiches

Put your meal between two slices of bread, or stuffed into a pita or hollowed out crunchy roll. Flour tortillas turn it into a wrap.

Pan Bagnat

This is basically a Tuna Niçoise on a baguette. The sandwich gets wrapped and weighted for a short while, which allows the dressing to soak into the bread and compresses the height. It’s important to use a good bakery baguette for this – don’t try it with packaged breads.

Bahn Mi

Vietnamese sandwich with quick-pickled vegetables and mayonnaise. They’re often made with pork in some form, and the traditional roll is akin to a baguette, but softer, so you can get away with a packaged hoagie bun here.

Hero/Submarine/Hoagie etc.

You don’t have to go to Subway to get one of these, just pile on the meats, cheese and veggies of choice. Toasting the buns first adds a bit of crunch, or heat open-faced in the oven, cheese on top, until cheese melts.

Falafal

Fried chickpea balls in pita bread with lettuce, tomato and tahini. You can make the falafal from scratch (a lot of work) or buy them in grocery deli sections. Some stores carry frozen falafal.

Cooling Foods

Cucumbers

Even before they are chilled, the interior of a cucumber can be as much as 20o cooler than the surrounding air. So ‘cool as a cucumber’ isn’t just an idiom, it really is a cooling food. Thin slices of cucumbers add to your water makes it even more refreshing. Add to salads or make it the center attraction, such as in a cucumber-tomato salad. Put some cucumber slices on your sandwiches. Or put some on your tired eyes to revive them!

Other raw vegetables

Keep some cut up carrots, celery, zucchini and whatever else you like raw in your frig to snack on, with or without a creamy dip. 

Ice Cream

A no-brainer.

Sherbet, sorbet, ices

More delicate stand-ins for ice cream, and easy to make at home. You’ll often find these in fruity flavors, and occasionally savory ones (such as tomato ice – https://rb.gy/ntxuot). They may be served as palate cleanser between courses, as a first course or a light dessert.

Melon

Ice-cold melon (watermelon especially) is a refreshing nibble any time of the day. Have it with breakfast, use as a base for salsa or part of a salad. Top with a scoop of ice cream for dessert. Whiz it in a blender for a drink base, or strain the liquid and drink the juice.