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Step away from the stove
June 8, 2014, 12:13 pm
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It's that time of year when the last thing you want to see is the orange glow of the electric element or the blue jet of the gas, so how about some dishes for you to "cook" for dinner or lunch when you don't want to cook. And these are meals that are more than just a sandwich and require just a little effort.

Cold soup:  If elegant rather than peasant rustic is more your thing, there is a world of no-cook soups out there. The Spanish blitz fresh tomatoes with cucumber to make gazpacho, or add bread and sherry vinegar to make "salmorejo". The Tuscans make a chunkier tomato soup (“pappa”) the same way. Dress the Spanish version with cracked smoked almonds and the Italian with loads of fresh basil and lemon zest – and both with heaps of good olive oil. Delicious!

Melon soups made from cantaloupe or watermelon have a similar cooling virtue. You could also try carrot juice blitzed with loads of spinach, adding a little fresh ginger and avocado for creaminess.

Or go the whole mile and make an avocado soup by pureeing a couple of avocados with vegetable stock, coconut milk, salt and lime juice. Then top with loads of picked cooked crab. Coriander, green chilli and a few drops of coconut vinegar will complete the soup.

Bulky salads: Think about how you can add cheese, nuts, tinned beans or pulses, packets of cooked brown rice or fish like smoked trout to your salads to make them more filling and suitable as a stand-alone main course.

Think of watermelon with goat's cheese, pistachios, green olives and cucumber; or Italian white beans tossed with vinaigrette, ripe tomatoes, thin red onion slices, blanched almonds, black olives and some of those white anchovies that the Spanish love. On the cheese front, good shaved Italian Parmesan is perfect with raw globe artichoke hearts or thinly sliced portobello mushrooms. Dress the artichokes with lemon juice and olive oil and the mushrooms with a balsamic dressing.

The Arab way:  The Arabs, Turks and Greeks all know a thing or two about dealing with the heat, so think about a shared meal of tzatziki (also known as "cacik"), hummus, tabouli, pitted green olives tossed with parsley and pomegranate molasses.

Or think about stepping this up as plated meal, perhaps with a slick of hummus dressed with fillets of canned sardines and a blizzard of cubed tomato flesh and chopped parsley.

Bread salads:  After a day out, there may be the desire for something a little more carbohydrate heavy, which can prove tricky if you've vowed not to turn on the stove. One solution is a bread and tomato salad like an Arab fattoush or a Tuscan panzanella, where the dressing and the juice of super-ripe tomatoes soften the bread deliciously.

 

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