Summer is on its way, and it can definitely get hot here in Wine Country. Thankfully, we’re almost always relieved by the cool coastal fog that comes rolling over the hills each evening. However, there are definitely days each summer that are just too hot. You know – those days when the house is still hot from the day before. When you open the front door and can’t tell whether it’s hotter inside or out. Days when you keep opening the freezer door to bask in the cool breeze. Those days when you just can’t imagine standing over a hot stove to make those healthy summer meals for your hot and whiny little ones.
Before we had kids, my husband and I would just have popsicles or carrots and hummus for dinner on those hot nights. As much as my kids would love that, it’s not exactly a balanced nutritious meal. So, here are some of my favorite tips and recipes for super tasty summer meals that won’t drag you down or heat up your house. Not only are these meals served cold or at room temperature; most of them don’t even require you to turn on the stove or oven.
Tasty Tips for those Hot Nights
Here are my tips for making dinner when it’s just too darn hot to cook:
- Double the recipe in case the heat wave persists.
- Cook vegetables, grains, and proteins the night before while it’s cool.
- Put your appliances to work. Get creative with your toaster, microwave, electric kettle, rice cooker, etc. On the hottest of hot nights, I’ve even plugged in my rice cooker in the garage!
- Think picnic. Deviled eggs, make-your-own sandwiches, and cheese & charcuterie platters all make great summer meals.
- When all else fails, head to your nearest air conditioned oasis for a quick dinner.
Hearty, Yet Cool Salads
Add tofu, edamame, or cooked chicken or shrimp to make this salad one of your family’s favorite summer meals.
I’ve been making different versions of this delicious pasta salad for years. I always add more baby spinach.
Hot night tip: Cook tortellini the night before, toss with a little olive oil, and keep it in refrigerator until you’re ready to put the salad together.
This traditional Lebanese salad is super flavorful and crisp. This authentic version calls for some unusual ingredients (sumac and pomegranate molasses), but I’ve made it without and it’s still yummy. Add chicken, cheese, or tofu for some extra protein to make this salad a meal.
Hot night tip: Simply crunch up some packaged pita chips instead of making your own.
Sandwiches that Mix It Up
Here are some ideas to spice up this healthy and totally on-trend sando.
There are a lot of possibilities with this classic Vietnamese sandwich that features a perfect balance of flavors and textures. Some are more authentic than others, but all are delicious. Making banh mi at home takes some planning, but it’s totally worth it.
Hot night tip: Prep ahead of time and have ingredients on hand for days.
This vegan sandwich is filling, flavorful, and nutritious.
Other Hot Weather Favorites
All the fresh tasty flavors of your favorite Vietnamese restaurant, but even better.
Hot night tip: Use pre-cooked shrimp or rotisserie chicken, and boil water in an electric kettle to prep your rice noodles.
Using this tutorial as a guide, select and prep your favorite fillings. Then put the kids to work rolling their customized combinations.
Nothing beats a cool, crisp lettuce wrap on a hot night. This recipe is super simple and can easily be customized for your family.