I must admit…there are days that I just do not want to cook in the summer. Shocking? Probably not. We all have those days when mustering the energy and creativity to fix dinner is simply not there. We could go out to eat, but it’s so hot out there. We could eat popcorn or cereal (trust me, this happens at least once a month here), but that isn’t a meal. We could order in, but we are tired of pizza.
A refrigerator full of food and no inspiration to cook it can be disappointing. It is in these times that I draw upon my experience living in the high desert of southern California. During the 118 degree summers there, it was rare for me to turn on the cooktop. Adding heat to the environment just seemed very wrong. I mean, it was 118! So, what to do? I created a term that I lovingly call the “appetizer dinner.” What is this appetizer dinner, you say? It can be anything, really. It doesn’t have to be just appetizers, but the main idea is that I put things together that don’t have to be cooked to be enjoyed.
I like the simplicity that comes with things like a Caprese salad or goat cheese and crackers or a platter of prosciutto and melon. Serve these delicious plates together, and presto–you have a delicious dinner. No cooking involved! I like to be creative. Adding some fig preserves to the goat cheese and crackers is my favorite. Mix ricotta, lemon peel, salt, pepper, and a little thyme together for a lovely spread. Olives or pickles make a nice accompaniment to any meat or cheese platter. I confess that I do occasionally add something cooked to this spread. Kale fritters, crostini, and even the occasional frozen appetizer from Trader Joe’s have graced our appetizer dinner table at times.
The abundant produce at your local farmer’s market in the summer makes it easy to say, “No cooking tonight!” As we journey into tomato and zucchini overload, think raw—think beat the heat with no cooking!
Here is a raw, no-cooking-involved recipe that I sampled at the Western Wake Farmer’s Market recently. It would make a perfect appetizer dinner accompanied with Vietnamese spring rolls!
Asian Zucchini Noodle Salad
- 3-4 medium zucchini
- 3 spring onions (cut in half lengthwise and then chopped)
- 1 small red bell pepper diced
- ½ cup snow peas (slice into bit size pieces)
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ¼ cup cilantro leaves
- 1/3 cup Ponzu Sauce
- 1 tbs. sesame oil
- 1 tbs. minced ginger
- 2 tsp. minced garlic
- 1 tbs. rice wine vinegar
- 2 tsp. honey
- 1 tsp. canola oil
- Cut the ends off each zucchini and julienne or use a *spiralizer to make into noodles. Sprinkle salt over the noodles and toss. Place in a bowl lined with paper towels, cover, place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight. You want to remove as much water from the zucchini as possible before making the salad.
- In a large bowl, combine vegetable ingredients.
- Whisk together ingredients for the dressing and pour onto vegetables.
- Mix thoroughly to coast all noodles. Serve immediately.
* I use the Gefu Spiralizer I bought at Whisk!