I’m Too Hot To Cook
Heatwave friendly food that won’t take time away from sitting directly in front of the AC.
I’m bored with dinner. Ran out of ideas. So I asked Internet, “Dear Internet, what do I want for dinner?”. And do you know what they gave me? 10 Light Summer Dinners You’ll Love and all the iterations thereof. The general formula seems to be a salad + citrus dressing + your classic summer protein, fish and shrimp.
I love shrimp. (That’s it. That’s the paragraph) 🍤
Baked fillets on beds of couscous, roasted salmon with a shaved raw veggie salad. They are beautiful on the screen. I drool from them, then leave the page without bookmarking anything.
Tale as old as time, lovers. I live in a pre-war brick apartment complex on the 5th floor. Central air is as mythical as the Kracken, and there is NO WAY I am using my oven on any evening of a 90+ degree day. Baked fish is nice. I actually just started trying to make fish on home, but suggesting to bake everything for a healthy midsummer meal is basically asking if I would like to get a paper cut between my thumb and pointer finger. Nobody is here for that.
So this week, I‘m compiling an oven-free list of dinner ideas for all my air-conditioner-less tribe, in their charming old apartments with beautiful wood floors and humidity that makes it impossible to actually dry off after a shower. This one’s for you, my sweaty but strong friends.
Eat ’Em Ups
Roasted Turkey and Artisanal Cheese on a fresh roll — You live near a Bodega, don’t you? You literally cannot buy lunch meat and cheese for cheaper than a whole $5 deli sandwich at the friendly neighborhood bodega mere feet from your house.
Sunset Park Sub — We made up this sandwich my first summer in the city because it was so hot and we were so poor. It’s simple, filling, and cheap. Tomato, avocado, provolone, sriracha and if you’d like, a bit of mayonnaise on a roll.
The best tamales are at the bottom of a freezer — You know I have to talk about Trader Joe. The frozen meals and snacks are no joke. I am partial to the chili verde burritos and beef tamales. Obvs I’m not trying to eat these every meal, but in a crunch and with an opportunity to totally bypass the stove and oven, it’s a win.
Eat the mango, it’s good — I don’t know how citywide this goes, but Union Square has maybe 6 different carts where people sell mangos. They slice it, cover it in lime juice, tomato and spices and it is so good. It’s usually only $3, so if you don’t like it, no big loss. But seriously, try it.
Mimic your favorite restaurants — If I find something I really like while eating out, eventually I try to copy it at home. Nanoosh has this egg wrap that very easily translates to an at-home version. Hard-boiled egg, hummus, veggies (whatever you have), pickles and sriracha on a wrap. Done.
Snack-a-tizers — aka Help is on the Way snacks. Except for this time the snack is your meal! Cheese and crackers, veggies and dip, hummus and anything, it’s all in. Make a homemade charcuterie of your very own and just skip a formal meal all together. It’s too hot to bother with more than slicing stuff anyways.
Grab A Slice — I don’t need to tell you this, but here it is. Eat pizza. All the work of a 500-degree oven without sweating through your undies!
Salad and… — The improv of summer meals. I always try to have a green (arugula, spinach, kale) in the fridge at all times and have more recently embraced that less is more when it comes to salad. A great summer combo is kale, carrots, strawberries and white beans. I dress it with oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Make it even better by giving the kale a little massage with oil olive before you add anything else. It helps your digestion and just tastes better. Instead of chopping carrots, shave it with a veggie peeler for thin strips of deliciousness.
Gazpacho babee — Sweet baby Ina Garter comes through with this un-fail-able recipe that requires so little work you’ll think you are doing it wrong. My only note is to make sure everything is fresh. One time I used old garlic and the whole batch was bitter. It’s great when you dunk crusty bread in it, and if you don’t want to wait for it to chill, put an ice cube in it.
And if an oven is unavoidable, try a toaster oven — If for some reason you crave hot oven fries on a 95-degree day (guilty), try a toaster oven. It works just as well and won’t heat up your apartment/home nearly as much as a standard oven.
Eat, be free, and dream of me…and central air conditioning.