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This time of year I love to eat cold or room temperature food for dinner. But I'm in a serious rut. Cold roasted or poached vegetables, salads based on grains (bulgur, wheatberries), or beans, or tuna or shellfish; cheese and salumi... whenever I try to wing it I end up with something vaguely Mediterranean. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but would love some new ideas.

What do you love to graze on when it's too hot to eat a hot meal?

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Slaws from various vegs are nice and can be seasoned to go with whatever else you have prepared. I also like cold noodle salads in the summer, like soba with a peanut/lime dressing, or plain, old, southern, macaroni and pea salad. Sometimes if I'm eating solo, fruit, cold from the fridge, really hits the spot.

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I'll sometimes use leftovers as a base for the filling of a pressed sandwich. I'll fix it the night before, wrap up and put it in the fridge and weight it down. Makes a nice, easy dinner the next day.

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I'll make something like pasta salad or potato salad early in the morning and then serve that for dinner. I'll put it over greens and add some other garnishes to make it a little fuller meal. Sometimes I put together an antipasto platter and fruit and/or a cold soup. Other times, I'll go with cold sandwiches. Tuna fish sandwiches with bagged potato chips takes me back to childhood, but decent canned tuna is pretty expensive these days.

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Tortilla soup! Make a big batch and have some in the fridge for awhile. Tastes great cold. Keep tortilla chips (or fry up some strips as needed) and avacados around to make it a meal. And cold leftovers of anything makes a good grazing dinner in front of the fridge/by the sink. Also, dips (guac/green sauce, eggplant spread, salsas pumped up with beans) with whatever is on hand can be very filling.

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David Tanis's article in tomorrow's NY Times Food section is his riff on a vietnamese/thai inspired noodle salad.

Once tomato season kicks in we like bread salads: day old bread chopped up, a bunch of chopped up tomatoes, some chopped up red onion, basil, olive oil, spritz of lemon juice, salt, pepper.

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Some of our favorites:

A salad made of cubed sweet watermon, sliced Kalamata olives, crumbled feta cheese and chopped fresh mint.

Fruit smoothies.

Gazpacho served over chunked-up avocado.

Smoked salmon or smoked trout on cucumber slices with sour cream.

Slightly pickled vegetables with cheese and crackers.

Loads of hummus.

Bean and rice salads.

Tomato sandwiches.

Tomatoes stuffed with curry chicken salad.

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I'm with Zora on the chilled soup thing.

  • Fruit smoothies and toast w peanut butter
  • Fruit salad w mint, poached egg and toast; coffee iced
  • Unorthodox spring rolls and their cousins,
  • Vegetable tacos sprinkled w feta or chevre and shredded radishes
  • Mashed avocado on thick, whole grain toast, coarse salt and drizzle of good olive oil, though hard to consume while walking on your hands and trying to swat flies off as oil drizzles down your fingers
  • Salad of orange, fennel, mint, cured black olives and red onion (well, you've got the Med. thing covered, you say, but will add:)
  • Leftover pasta con le sardi with lots of freshly squeezed lemon
  • Sweet potato-chickpea salad w tahini dressing
  • Anything with lime and cilantro. (Ironic how citrus cools, though no longer as good as it is in colder months. Darn equator.)

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My lunch today was a great hot-weather meal: leftover cold fried chicken, potato salad made a couple of days ago, also cold, and a glass of cold, crisp cava. It would have been even better with some sliced cucumber or a little lettuce salad, but I didn't have time do any actual food prep (even slicing a cucumber).

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Pickled cukes, & coleslaw, fixed to go w/ BBQ, but I prefer the slaw-cabbage, carrots, scallions dressed w/ mayo, apple cider vinegar, pickapeppa sauce...I can't remember another summer where my appetite has gone totally off like this...still eating my pseudo Tom Yum soup-chicken broth, mushrooms, shrimp, & Tom yum paste, w/ chopped rau ram &/or Thai basil.

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Two words: frozen grapes.

Oh, a few more words: I found some beautiful peas at the market yesterday and am stoked to make a cold mint pea soup this weekend. (I'm going to do some recipe searches but would welcome any DR-tested and -approved ideas!)

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Two words: frozen grapes.

Oh, a few more words: I found some beautiful peas at the market yesterday and am stoked to make a cold mint pea soup this weekend. (I'm going to do some recipe searches but would welcome any DR-tested and -approved ideas!)

Word: Thomas Keller's English pea purée with Parmesan crisps. It's in the French Laundry cookbook and thus online at Google Books plus your local public library. Don't even need the parm crisps tho they're a nice touch. Don't need the truffle oil, def. I'd recommend cutting back the salt in the boiling pot of water to half required amount, at least. If you have a Vitamix or other tremendously powerful blender, you don't need to go thru the tamis-straining. Skip the mint for this--or sub tempura-style mint leaves for the Parm crisp. Hey. B)
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You can also make chilled fresh pea soup with sugar snap peas, which provide a much better return on investment than English peas, which are so expensive when you factor in paying for and then discarding the shells, and are such a pain to shuck that IMO they should be served whole, warm and with cream, so as to truly appreciate their precious, sweet goodness.

Sugar snap pea soup wants to be strained after pureeing, even with a Vitamix, because there is just so much fiber in the soup. I use a fine strainer, not a tamis.

If you can get to the Arlington Courthouse market early on Saturday morning, during pea season (like NOW) there is a woman who sells bags of shelled English peas (about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of shelled peas) for $5. Which is a much better deal than $4 for a pint basket of unshelled peas.

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You can also make chilled fresh pea soup with sugar snap peas, which provide a much better return on investment than English peas, which are so expensive when you factor in paying for and then discarding the shells, and are such a pain to shuck that IMO they should be served whole, warm and with cream, so as to truly appreciate their precious, sweet goodness.

Sugar snap pea soup wants to be strained after pureeing, even with a Vitamix, because there is just so much fiber in the soup. I use a fine strainer, not a tamis.

If you can get to the Arlington Courthouse market early on Saturday morning, during pea season (like NOW) there is a woman who sells bags of shelled English peas (about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of shelled peas) for $5. Which is a much better deal than $4 for a pint basket of unshelled peas.

I actually got a QUART of shelled peas from the Reagan market for $6. I've never cooked with fresh peas before (the realization of which surprised the heck out of me), so I'm looking forward to seeing how they go. When making my corn/pea/tomato sautee yesterday, I found that they need to be cooked a heck of a lot longer than I thought. I did it in batches, of course, but the peas should probably have cooked at least twice as long as I let them. Now I know!

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^Thanks for the posts and link about pea soup; it's what I had in mind for dinner tonight. Possibly a sorrel and pea soup. Chilled, of course. I have sheep milk yogurt straining to become labneh and some beautiful radishes; all that's missing is some pita.

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I actually got a QUART of shelled peas from the Reagan market for $6. I've never cooked with fresh peas before (the realization of which surprised the heck out of me), so I'm looking forward to seeing how they go. When making my corn/pea/tomato sautee yesterday, I found that they need to be cooked a heck of a lot longer than I thought. I did it in batches, of course, but the peas should probably have cooked at least twice as long as I let them. Now I know!

The length of time required to cook peas is a reflection of the age of the peas. Older peas take a lot longer than young ones. Also, English peas begin to lose sugar as soon as they are picked--much like sweet corn did, before the advent of the currently ubiquitous super-sweet hybrid varieties. So, peas that are sold long after they were picked are starchy, not sweet, and if they are also older, they are tough. I try to taste before I buy, and pass them by if they aren't sweet. If they are big, but still sweet, they just need to get cooked longer.
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^Thanks for the posts and link about pea soup; it's what I had in mind for dinner tonight. Possibly a sorrel and pea soup. Chilled, of course. I have sheep milk yogurt straining to become labneh and some beautiful radishes; all that's missing is some pita.

Do look at Thomas Keller's recipe for a puréed pea soup since I think the anal advice about ice atop the shelled peas and both salt and sugar in vat of surging water good even though amount of salt should be reduced by 1/2 or even 1/4. What I like is the quiddity of pea, the pea-essence of the soup that Mrs. B. once brought to a DR picnic.

Plus, washed, the pods of English peas do not go to waste in a vegetable broth since they're packed w flavor. They have to be added at the last minute, though, since sweetness rapidly turns into an intense bitterness; 6-7 minutes perhaps.

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