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If You Can't Take the Heat, Get in the Kitchen: 5 No-Cook Recipes for Hot Days

By:  Mackensy Lunsford Aug 1, 2014
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No-Cook Recipes

Summer is hot, and the living is easy. That's what they say, at least. But for those tasked with pulling together family meals in steamy kitchens, summer's just hot.

Standing behind the stove is no fun when the mercury rises. That’s why a few filling, no-cook dishes are an important addition to any cook’s arsenal, particularly those cooks sweltering through the summer without any air conditioning. But no-cook recipes are also important tools for those undergoing kitchen renovations or any other situation that renders the stove inaccessible.

All of the following non-cook meals are filling and healthy, and not a one requires turning on a stove.

No-Cook Recipes

Asian Chicken Salad

Not only is this easy to make, it's a refreshingly perfect light one-dish meal for the summer months. Serve a bit of bread on the side, and perhaps the Southwestern Gazpacho below, for a beefier spread.

For the pulled chicken, you can use whole rotisserie birds, which can be found in the deli area of the grocery store. If you regularly roast (or smoke) whole chickens, this is an excellent way to use the leftover meat. We tried out smoked chicken in this recipe, and it was fantastic.

For the greens, we used a mix of Napa cabbage and kale, but feel free to substitute any other sturdy green.

Makes about 4 servings

1 quart pulled, cooked chicken

2 quarts chopped greens

1-2 carrots, julienned

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

½ lemon, juiced

Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Toss together all ingredients, working salt into the greens to break them down a bit, particularly if you're using kale. Taste and readjust seasonings as necessary. Let the salad marinate for several minutes for best flavor.

No-Cook Recipes

Vietnamese-Style Shrimp Noodle Salad

This is a take on the classic Vietnamese bun, pronounced boon, a salad of cold noodles, vegetables and herbs with dressing. Make sure to use rice vermicelli noodles, which don't require cooking, just a good soak in very hot water from the tap.

Get pre-cooked cocktail shrimp from your local grocery store fish counter, or buy precooked shrimp frozen and thaw in the refrigerator in advance.

Makes about 2 servings

Salad:

1 8-ounce package of cellophane noodles

12 pre-cooked cocktail shrimp

1 red bell pepper, julienned

1 carrot, julienned

1 small cucumber, julienned

½ cup cilantro, chopped (cilantro fans: go for a full cup, loose-packed)

½ cup fresh Thai basil or fresh mint, chopped

1 bunch scallions, greens only, sliced

½ cup roasted cashews, chopped

Salt to taste

Dressing:

3 tablespoons fish sauce

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

2 teaspoons Sriracha chili sauce (more or less depending on spice tolerance)

1 tablespoon sugar

Juice of half a lime

Place noodles in a large bowl or pot, get your tap water as hot as possible, and soak the noodles per package instructions — approximately 10 minutes, agitating with a fork occasionally.

Meanwhile, julienne the vegetables into thin matchsticks. If you have one, use a mandoline — that's a kitchen slicer, not a musical instrument — to slice the vegetables. Then, mix the dressing ingredients in a separate bowl until the sugar is dissolved (or mostly dissolved).

Drain the noodles and place them in a medium-sized bowl, preferably one in which you can serve the salad. Toss the noodles with the dressing. Then add the herbs and vegetables, tossing gently. Garnish with the shrimp and the cashews. Taste and add salt, if necessary.

No-Cook Recipes

Spicy (Tuna) Fish Tacos with Slaw

This is one of our favorite of the no-cook meals, and proves that canned tuna need not be boring. The trick is to choose the highest-quality tuna you can find.

Beef up the dinner table by serving this with the Southwestern Gazpacho below.

Makes about 2 servings

For the tuna filling:

2 cans high-quality tuna

2 teaspoons Sriracha hot sauce

½ cup chopped scallion

1 teaspoon minced cilantro

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 teaspoons lime juice

Salt and pepper to taste

For the slaw:

2 cups thinly sliced Napa cabbage

½ cup chopped scallion

¼ cup Greek yogurt

2 teaspoons lime juice

½ teaspoon salt

Extras:

Taco-sized flour tortillas

Sliced avocado

Cilantro leaves

Squeeze of Sriracha

Drain tuna, and mix (without mashing) tuna in a bowl with the rest of the tuna filling ingredients. In another bowl, mix together the Napa with the rest of the slaw ingredients. Taste both and adjust seasoning, if needed. Layer tuna with cabbage on tortillas with a few slices of avocado, a few leaves of cilantro, and a squirt of Sriracha hot sauce (optional).

No-Cook Recipes

Southwestern Gazpacho

All you need is a knife and a blender to make this recipe. Feel feel to tweak as you see fit, adding extra cilantro or a few shakes of hot sauce for bolder flavor. The key to this recipe is using the ripest tomatoes you can find.

Serves 2

5 small tomatoes

½ cup chopped scallion

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro, and several leaves for garnish

1 diced jalapeno

Juice of one lime

1 teaspoon chili powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1 cup cooked corn kernels (about one cob)

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

Optional additions: chopped avocado, sour cream.

Sliced the tomatoes in half and puree in a food processor or blender. Add the scallion, chopped cilantro, jalapeno, lime juice, seasonings and vinegar, and pulse several times. Pour into a large bowl, and stir in the corn, black beans and chopped avocado. Too thick? Stir in a touch of cold water or stock. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve in separate bowls with chopped avocado and dollops of sour cream, if desired. Garnish with cilantro and serve with lime wedges and tortilla chips. Plunk a bottle of hot sauce on the table for heat lovers.

No-Cook Recipes

Pesto White Bean Salad

This is about as easy as a recipe gets. Chop a couple of things, open a few cans, mix and serve. This is a perfect on-the-fly recipe, so file it away for unexpected company, potlucks and other surprise situations.

Makes about 4 servings

2 cans white beans, such as navy, rinsed and drained

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 jar pesto (about 6.4 ounces)

¼ cup scallion, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Toss the rinsed beans and peppers with the pesto in a large bowl. Adjust seasonings to taste. Garnish with scallions and serve with crusty bread and sliced tomatoes.