It’s rare I turn on the oven these days. I mean, seriously. Who wants to fire up the range, much less even be in the kitchen, when the heat and humidity push me to consider moving to the Arctic.
Here are a few recipes that make frequent visits to our dinner table throughout the summer. All are rich with nutrition, flavor and little to NO heat is required to prepare them. All in all, my kind of food!
Strawberry Salad with Almonds and Feta
Here’s a family fave that’s cool, refreshing and full of fiber, vitamins and minerals. If you’d like to add more protein to the salad (it’s already there in the form of almonds and feta), keep cold grilled shrimp or chicken on hand. Frozen edamame (thawed) or canned light tuna packed in water and drained are also salad friendly protein sources.
1-2 heaping handfuls of dark, leafy greens
1 heaping handful of strawberries, washed and sliced
1 small handful of almonds, toasted (Marcona almonds are in the picture above)
1 small handful of feta cheese, crumbled
Add all ingredients. Dress with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, or any berry fruit infused oil or vinegar.
Kitchen Sink Quinoa
While it’s tough to pronounce, Quinoa (KEEN-Wah) is one of the most delicious tasting grains I’ve ever eaten. It’s nutty and packed with protein (it’s a complete protein, meaning all of the amino acids we need are right there!). It’s also full of iron, magnesium and fiber. I make double and triple batches so the oven is only on once.
1 cup quinoa, cooked according to package directions
2 handfuls cherry or grape tomatoes
1 can of artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed and roughly chopped
1/4 cup almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pine nuts or pepitas, toasted (can use any nut you wish)
1/2-1 cup torn arugula or spinach
1/2 cup fresh mozzarella, chopped or diced
1/4-1/2 cup balsamic vinaigrette (use 1/4 cup, mix and taste. Add additional dressing if needed)
salt and pepper to taste
Empty cooked quinoa into a large bowl. Add all ingredients and stir well. Taste. Season if desired.
It’s Oppressively Hot Outside Gazpacho
1 quart Mr. and Mrs. T’s Bold and Spicy Bloody Mary Mix (can use any brand of tomato juice or Bloody Mary mix--low sodium version is best)
1/2 white onion, rough chop
1 1/2 English cucumber, peeled and rough chop
1 large red bell pepper, seeded, cored and roughly chopped
1 large yellow or orange pepper, seeded, cored and roughly chopped
1 pound tomatoes, rough chop
2 Tablespoons olive oil
3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar (or to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Salt (if using low sodium version of Bloody Mary Mix or Tomato Juice), to taste
1/2 pound cooked shrimp (optional)
1/2 avocado for garnish (optional)
In a heavy duty blender or food processor, combine 1/2 of the onion, 1/2 of the cucumber, 1/2 of each of the peppers, 1/2 of the tomatoes and 1/2 of the Bloody Mary Mix. Blend until well blended and there are no chunks of vegetables in the soup. Pour into stock pot or very large container for storage. Repeat. Once all vegetables have been blended, add olive oil, red wine vinegar, pepper and salt (if using). Stir very well until combined. To serve, pour into bowls and garnish with chopped or whole shrimp and slices or chunks of avocado. Serves 4.
If you want it spicier, add a few drops of hot sauce or horseradish!
Robin Plotkin, RD, LD, knows the challenges of getting a fast, healthy and tasty meal on the table. As a registered dietitian and a mom, Robin provides realistic tools and resources for families in need of stress-free meal times. Follow her blog at: www.robinsbite.com