I am so sick of cooking. At least I am as I write this, four days into a New York-style heat wave, and three weeks into a project that has me testing recipes and — get this — turning on the oven. You know that’s essentially against the law in my house during the months of July until August, so in order to preserve some sense of sanity in the kitchen, I’ve been on a chilled dinner kick. Most of these require turning on the stovetop, but if you’re smart about it, you can do a little advance cooking all at once (poach chicken, cook shrimp, boil noodles), stash your loot in the fridge, then grab for a quick assembly job during the week. Herewith, a few ideas:
1. Lobster Rolls OK, fine. I don’t exactly expect you to shell out the big bucks on lobsters for a regular old Tuesday night family dinner. I really just needed an excuse to show off the photo above, taken on the porch of the Inn where Andy and stayed in Block Island a few weeks ago. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Everything tastes better with an ocean view.
2. Shredded Chicken Salad I’ve been subbing in sweet-and-spicy shrimp for the chicken with killer results. If I was the lady-who-luncheons type, this would be at the center of the table. (Make shrimp in advance and let cool.)
3. Chopped Salad with Kale and Homemade Ranch Dressing It’s a VIP in our house all year long — mostly because it can be assembled with odds and ends from the vegetable drawer.
4. Vegetable Spring Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce The truth is, anything is good when it’s dipped in spicy peanut sauce. Plus: No oven, no stovetop, no heating up the kitchen.
5. Detox Soup Puree avocado, cucumber, buttermilk (or yogurt), serve cold, and watch it erase all sorts of evils.
6. Curried Chicken Salad On a bed of lettuce, wrapped in flatbread, stuffed in between a split croissant or potato roll — wowowowow, you can’t really go wrong here.
7. Mediterranean Chicken Pitas No shame in starting with a store-bought rotisserie, btw.
8. This weekend I’m going to grill extra skirt steak, then try tossing the leftovers with Bibb lettuce, cucumbers, red onions, basil, mint, and cilantro. Maybe some peanuts on top. I’ll keep you posted.
9. Shrimp Rolls (page 74, Dinner: The Playbook) If you buy your shrimp pre-shelled, it’s the easiest summer dinner out there.
10. Cold “Peanut Butter Noodles” (page 261, Dinner: A Love Story)