Let’s face it, as the sun heats up, the last thing you want to do is stand in front of a hot stove preparing dinner for your family. Your oven can heat up the house nearly as much as your heater, so you certainly don’t want to turn that on again. What are you to do? How about whipping up one of these easy, and very delicious, summer recipes that require absolutely no baking, cooking, sautéing or heating of any kind? When considering a no-cook dinner, the important thing is to get the best ingredients you can. Spend the time to pick out the perfect vegetables, spring for the freshest spices and pick up the best meats you can find. By serving these ingredients raw, you’re letting the natural flavors speak for themselves, so give them a chance to really shine. Here are three easy, no-cook recipes that will save you from heating up your home this summer.
Asian Noodle Salad
With a couple of smart ingredients, you’ll enjoy this fantastic noodle salad without ever having to turn on your stove or oven. The secret starts with a pre-cooked, store-bought rotisserie chicken. Some supermarkets offer lemon pepper or extra garlic versions; just pick up a plain rotisserie chicken. You’ll also need cellophane noodles, but don’t worry, these noodles rehydrate in warm water, so you don’t need to boil them. The rest is all about the sauce and the additions of your favorite Asian-style vegetables. As fancy and as delicious as this dish is, your guests will be shocked how easy it was for you to make. Of course, you don’t have to tell them.
- The meat from one rotisserie chicken, shredded at room temperature
- One package cellophane noodles, rehydrated
- One English cucumber, cut into small sticks
- One tablespoon olive oil
- One jalapeno chile, minced (remove the seeds if you like your dish less spicy)
- Three tablespoons minced fresh ginger
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ¾ cup rice vinegar
- Three garlic cloves, minced well
- Salt and pepper
- Combine the oil, jalapeno, ginger and garlic with sugar and vinegar.
- Stir well, adding salt and pepper to taste.
- Chill until the dressing is cool.
- Combine the chicken, noodles and cucumber in a large bowl.
- Drizzle the dressing on top just before serving.
Another Asian staple that is perfect for those hot summer days is rice paper. Available in the ethnic aisle of any supermarket, you’ll find rice paper surprisingly easy to use, and a perfectly blank canvas for any meats, vegetables and sauces. This recipe, inspired by a similar one from Food and Wine, uses rare roast beef from the deli section of your supermarket. However, you can also use any meat you like, or chop up some of your favorite veggies to wrap up. There’s no wrong way to make this dish, and once you get used to using rice paper, you’ll be working on lots of other ways to use these tasty wraps.
- ½ pound deli roast beef, sliced thin and cut into strips
- 24 rice paper wrappers (get a few extra, as you’ll definitely break some)
- One clove garlic, smashed
- One teaspoon Thai green curry paste
- Two tablespoons brown sugar
- The juice of one lime
- Two tablespoons fish sauce
- Three tablespoons water
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- Four cups bagged broccoli slaw
- Salt and pepper
- In a small bowl, mash together the garlic and brown sugar until you have a paste.
- Add the green curry paste, lime juice, fish sauce and water and set aside.
- In another small bowl, combine the mayonnaise with one tablespoon of the curry paste you just mixed.
- In a large bowl combine the broccoli slaw with the roast beef, add salt and pepper to taste.
- Fill a pie plate with warm water.
- Dip a rice paper wrapper in the water to soften, then set on a clean surface to work.
- Spread a teaspoon of the curry mayonnaise on the bottom of the wrapper, then top with about three tablespoons of the roast beef filling.
- Roll the wrappers into tight wraps, tucking in the sides as you roll.
- Transfer the completed rolls to a cold plate as you continue making the rest of the rolls.
- Just before you serve, cut each roll in half and serve with the remaining sauce.
Everyone loves lasagna, but it’s such a pain to deal with cooking all those noodles, and then baking the dish itself. When the sun is at its most brutal, the last thing you want to deal with is that hot oven and stove. There are many variations of raw lasagna, and you can pretty much create any vegetable-based version you like, since the flavors are a simple base that works with just about anything. This version uses zucchini and squash, but you can use anything you prefer. The secret to this is using perfectly ripe vegetables, while making sure everything is cold and crisp. As a vegetarian option, even meat lovers will be surprised at how flavorful and delicious this raw lasagna dish can be.
- One zucchini, sliced lengthwise
- One summer squash, sliced lengthwise
- Two cups fresh ricotta cheese
- One cup shredded fresh mozzarella cheese
- Two sliced tomatoes
- ½ cup of your favorite salsa
- Chopped cilantro to taste
- Prepare all your vegetables and set out all your ingredients.
- Divide the zucchini as a base layer on four dishes.
- Then spread small amount of ricotta on each plate.
- Layer the squash next, on top of the ricotta.
- Then layer more ricotta on top of each plate of squash.
- Next, layer all the tomato slices, followed by a generous helping of your favorite salsa.
- Sprinkle with the shredded mozzarella cheese and top with a little bit of chopped cilantro.
Deborah Flomberg is a theater professional, freelance writer and Denver native. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.