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Refreshingly Cool Summer Meals

Too hot to cook? Check out some of these ideas for tasty yet cool summer meals.

Too hot to cook? Fortunately you can still make delicious, filling meals without ever turning on the stove. Here are some meal ideas that will fill you up and keep your kitchen cool.

Salads are incredibly versatile, and can even work as a main course. Add spinach or kale to your regular mix for variety, and for a heartier salad, add beans (canned to avoid cooking), avocado, nuts, or cheese. For meat, cut salami or summer sausage into bite-sized pieces and toss with the salad, use chicken cooked ahead of time, or add frozen shrimp.

Try these combinations to get started:

1. Spinach or other greens, walnuts or chopped almonds, celery, strawberry, grapes, raisins, or apple, with a mayo or yogurt dressing.
2. Mixed greens, tomato, basil, and mozzarella with balsamic and olive oil.
3. Chickpeas, diced tomato, onion, basil, lemon juice, and red wine vinegar.
4. Leftover pasta tossed with olive oil, tomato, bell peppers, and zucchini.

Wraps and Sandwiches are great cold and are a good way to incorporate leftover meat and rice. Use fresh bread or croissants to make sandwiches more interesting, and pile on sprouts, spinach, tomatoes, and specialty cheeses. Making a tortilla or pita-style wrap allows you to more easily use messier leftovers like rice and beans, chopped carrots and cucumber, avocado, apple slices, sun-dried tomato spread, or hummus. You can also make Caesar or Cobb salad wraps–basically a salad in wrap form.

Chilled Soups and Smoothies are especially fun in summer, and all they require is blending. Gazpacho makes a perfect light lunch or appetizer, while cantaloupe and melon make great soups, which can be jazzed up with berries and mint. Smoothies are great for breakfast or as an afternoon treat. They can be as healthy or decadent as you choose–you can use yogurt, milk, coconut milk, soy milk, or juice–and can even incorporate vegetables like spinach or carrots.

Gazpacho

Ingredients:
4-5 ripe tomatoes
1 large cucumber, peeled
1 large onion, quartered
1 green pepper, halved
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 cups tomato juice
½ cup olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon hot pepper sauce (optional)
½ cup plain yogurt
salt and pepper

Directions:
In a blender or food processor, combine two of the tomatoes, half of the cucumber, half of the onion, half of the green pepper, the garlic, and 1 cup of tomato juice. Blend until the veggies are pureed.

In a large serving bowl, mix the pureed vegetables with the remaining tomato juice, olive oil, vinegar, pepper sauce (if desired), and yogurt. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about two hours. Chop the remaining tomatoes, cucumber, onion, and green pepper and add them to the soup before serving.

Serves 6

After graduating from Bates College in 2009, Kristen attended the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Maine. She now lives in Western Massachusetts where she works at Orion magazine."

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