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Prepare Some No-Cook Meals

Food writer Judith Hausman shares her secrets for cool foods during hot weather.

We're now in that inevitable period when it's painful to turn the oven on and when even standing over a grill outside drenches you. Turning on the A/C and starting early help, but no-cook meals with minimum preparation time are the best. Be efficient and plan for a couple of days so that one brief session with the stovetop gets you ready. Here are two of my favorite no-cook meals.

I boil eggs, small green beans and diced potatoes in one pot for a Nicoise salad; the rest is washing greens and opening cans.

Salad Nicoise

Dry the lettuces well and arrange the following prettily on top of them: a cup of small or cut-up cooked green beans, a cup of diced cooked potatoes, 3-4 hard-boiled eggs, cut in quarters, ¼ c. good black olives, 3-4 quartered fresh tomatoes, ½ c. drained, cooked chick peas, 2 cans of tuna (preferably olive oil-packed). To serve, toss all of this with mustard vinaigrette and some chopped fresh herbs, such as basil or dill. Serve with crusty bread from Wave Hill Breads in Wilton or Ross' Bread in Ridgefield, and cheese.

Blenders (and food processors) can do a lot more than make pina coladas. You probably have a classic, tomato-based gazpacho recipe (tip: start with V-8) already. Try this pale green one for a change. If you don't have any stale bread lying around, you can use white bread with the crusts removed. Garnish with grape halves or chopped chives.

White Gazpacho

2 c. crustless stale bread, torn into pieces

2 c. chicken or vegetable stock

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1 c. slivered blanched almonds

2 c. green seedless grapes, sliced in half

2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped

1-3 garlic cloves, chopped

2-3 Tbsp sherry vinegar or cider vinegar

1/4 c. olive oil

Soak the torn bread in the stock until it's nearly all absorbed.

Pulse the almonds, salt and garlic in a blender or food processor until the almonds are pulverized. Add the soaked bread and any stock that was not absorbed by the bread, along with the grapes and cucumbers. Pulse until the mixture is a rough purée.

Add 2 tablespoons of the vinegar and combine. Add more stock to thin if necessary. Taste and add the other tablespoon of vinegar.

Drizzle in the olive oil. Season to taste. Chill before serving.

Serves 6-8.

Read more of Judith's work at The Hungry Locavore.

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