Too hot to cook? Try some cool summer dishes |

Too hot to cook? Try some cool summer dishes

Chef Mick RosacciHot weather calls for cool and refreshing veggie dishes, like grilled portabello salad, that don't require a lot of cooking indoors.

All day long you’ve been dreaming of getting home and chilling in front of the fan with a cold drink. You pull into the driveway, and before you can peel yourself from the car seat, the kids ask, “what’s for dinner?”You want to feed your family right, but it’s too hot to heat up the kitchen. What you need are cool, light and healthy dishes that require a minimum of cooking, serving them as a one-dish meal or alongside grilled meats.Summer’s veggies make the health-conscious cook’s job easy. I know, I know, your family thinks vegetables are rabbit food. But turn them into cool and interesting dishes on a hot day, and they won’t even notice they’re eating healthy.Here are some personal favorites to savor on the back porch (or in front of the fan) with your family. Not only do they taste great, they’re great for you!

French, Italian or Greek Vinaigrette3 cups chopped Bibb or Lollo Rosso lettuce2 cups chopped romaine1 large tomato, chopped1 avocado, diced3 oz turkey breast or ham, cubed3 oz P&D shrimp, chopped2 oz crumbled blue cheese2 hard boiled eggs, diced2 ears of leftover corn, kernels cut from cobDrizzle a bowl with dressing, add lettuces, gently toss, and transfer to a serving platter. Top with decorative rows of remaining ingredients. Makes a great light meal with fresh rustic bread, serves 3-4.

Great with a juicy grilled steak!4 portobello mushroomsBalsamic Vinaigrette (or your favorite)6 oz. mixed greens (anything from Baby Spring Greens to a packaged salad blend)4 oz. chvre cheese1 tomato, cubedGreen onionscroutonsPeel portobello skin and trim off gills. Brush entire mushroom with vinaigrette. Cook on a very hot grill until soft, about 8-10 minutes, remove and slice into thin strips.Drizzle a large bowl with dressing, add greens, tomato and cooled sliced mushrooms – toss gently. Transfer to a serving plate and top with chvre, croutons and green onions and serve with grilled steak and a crusty loaf. Serves 4.

1/2 loaf (or so) Italian or French bread 2 ripe red tomatoes1 ripe yellow tomatoRoasted or fresh pepper strips1/2 cucumber1/2 cup sliced basil leaves1 small red onion, split and slicedItalian vinaigrettePecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano Cut bread and veggies into bite-sized cubes. Drizzle a large bowl with dressing; add veggies and bread and toss, adding dressing as needed. Transfer to a serving platter. Use a vegetable peeler to slice curls of cheese over the top and serve beside or under grilled meats.

Prepared Caesar dressingtwo 8 oz tuna steaksfresh cracked black pepper1 small head romaine1 ripe tomato, wedged1 yellow or orange bell pepper, cut into stripscroutonsMarinate tuna in Caesar dressing for at least 10 minutes (preferably 1 hour). Sprinkle to taste with coarsely cracked pepper and grill for 2-5 minutes per side, preferably to rare/medium rare. Set aside to cool, slice.Meanwhile clean and cut romaine, tomatoes, and peppers (cucumbers, artichoke hearts, or anything you like.) Toss veggies with Caesar dressing, topping with croutons and sliced tuna. Delicious with grilled portobello, chicken, or pork in place of the tuna. Serves 4

2 artichokes1 bunch asparagusveggies of your choice: potatoes, beets, carrots, mushrooms, etc.2 tomatoes1 small sweet onionprepared salad dressingbasil or mint leaves, tornfreshly ground pepperCut sharp points off of artichoke leaves, quarter and remove choke. Trim, peel and/or slice all the other veggies that need to cook. Bring a pot of salted water to boil, adding veggies from longest cooking to shortest. Cool hot veggies under cold running water.Slice tomatoes, onions and any other fresh veggies. Dip or toss veggies in dressing (French, Greek or Italian Vinaigrettes are excellent) and arrange decoratively on a large plate, topping with torn herbs and cracked pepper. Serve as a first course with crusty bread, or as a side with grilled meats. Serves 6-8

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