Cool Summer Meals

According to the always reliable internet, this summer we are in JUST the right spot for outdoor dining! I don’t know about you, but heating up your house for summery meals on the patio or a picnic blanket just doesn’t seem quite right. So how about some cool no-cook dinner plans?

Well, you knew I had to start here right? Summer salads are definitely where it’s at. I usually eat a big green salad every day for lunch during the season. Really though, salads do not have to be made of lettuce, in fact they are some significant advantages to lettuce free salads. Salads made of tougher stuff don’t wilt like a lettuce salad, you can make a marinated vegetable salad – carrots or beets for instance and eat it for several days. A big potato, pasta or grain salad made with a zingy vinaigrette lasts for several meals as well and is super filling.  Salads made with cruciferous vegetables like cabbage or broccoli get better as they sit. Add some shredded chicken if you’d like and you’re done.

Ceviche & Veggie Sushi
Ceviche is a wonderful cool and refreshing seafood option – if you’re not sure about the “no heat cooking” technique or are pregnant then try a cooked version (already cooked shrimp is widely available). Veggie sushi is another great cool summer meal. You don’t have to hit the expensive sushi counter either. Pick up some nori (seaweed sheets, yummy!) at the supermarket in the asian section. Cook some short grain rice (or buy some cooked white rice from the supermarket takeout counter for a truly no cook version), and roll them up in a rustic hand roll style with your favorite vegetables. This is a great time for both kids and adults, and is significantly cheaper than a restaurant.

Mezze or Tapas
One of the easiest and most impressive looking summer dinners. Just assemble some of your favorite cold appetizers and call it a meal. The options for this are endless: salami, cheeses, hummus, tzaziki, tomatoes, pickles, marinated vegetables, cucumbers, olives, dates, spiced nuts, the list can go on and on. Add some crackers or crusty bread and dinner is done.

This one is kind of duh, but there are tons of great summery sandwiches that feel a little bit more special than turkey on wheat. How about a little olive relish turning things into a muffalata? Give PB & J a spin by using pistachio butter and apricot preserves (one of my favorites). I can’t stop making shrimp rolls this year – like a lobster roll but a tiny bit more affordable.

For those who think meals must be hot there’s always the grill but don’t forget the slow-cooker. I know the slow cooker seems counter intuitive, it makes you instantly think of wintery pot roasts but it really is a great tool for cooking without heating up your house. Also, you can’t go a whole summer without a pot of fresh corn chowder or ratatouille, both perfect candidates for a slow cooker!

Bonus points if you eat your cool summer meal in a cool KC outdoor dining spot, may I also suggest the lawn of Liberty Memorial, on a rooftop park in the Power & Light district, next to the giant chess pieces on top of the downtown library, or maybe just a bier garden while enjoying a beverage and some play time.

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