Extremely steamy temps—like those blanketing much of the U.S. right now—deflate my desire for everyday activities: exercising, anything involving the outdoors and especially cooking. Like many New Yorkers, I live in a “cozy” (aka shoebox-sized) abode, so using the oven at all during summer basically transforms the entire place into a sauna. With the mercury predicted to climb even higher in the coming days, I’ve turned to my online arsenal of food blogs for summery, sans-oven recipes. The goal? Create healthy and tasty home-cooked meals without cooking myself in the process. Here, two recent successes. Enjoy and stay cool, my fellow foodies!
This Chopped Chickpea Greek Salad, courtesy of Ambitious Kitchen, is light, refreshing and just plain pretty. I pulled it together as a post-work meal in less than ten minutes. It’s also surprisingly filling, thanks to the fibrous chickpeas and water-laden veggies (i.e. cucumbers, tomatoes and bell peppers). Although the recipe didn’t call for it, I added a few leaves of fresh basil for additional flavor.
I’m a longtime lover of lettuce wraps (they’re healthy yet hearty; crispy and customizable), and this meatless Mexican quinoa version via Minimalist Baker is especially light and flavorful. Instead of roasting the sweet potato in the oven, I simply pricked it with a fork, microwaved it on high for eight minutes and then chopped and sprinkled it with olive oil, cinnamon, cumin and sea salt. Another inside tip: the recipe yields leftover cilantro lime dressing, which tastes just as delightfully creamy on salad the next day.
Chopped Chickpea Greek Salad (courtesy of Ambitious Kitchen)
- 1 (15 oz) can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 15 grape tomatoes, halved
- 1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives
- 1 cucumber, sliced and quartered
- 4 oz feta cheese, crumbled or cut into 1/2 inch cubes
For the dressing:
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- freshly ground salt and pepper, to taste
- Place all salad ingredients into a large bowl and toss to combine.
- In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and oregano. Pour onto salad and toss again to well combine. Taste and add salt and pepper as you’d like.
- Place in refrigerator for 1 hour to marinate, or serve immediately. Salad is best enjoyed within 2-3 days after making. Serves 4 for a meal, or 6 as a side salad.
Mexican Quinoa Salad Cups with Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing (via Minimalist Baker)
- 2 heads small, artisan lettuce (any variety that will form cups/wraps nicely – or sub corn tortillas)
- 1 15-ounce can unsalted black beans (Note: If your beans are salted, omit additional sea salt)
- 1 large sweet potato, scrubbed, rinsed and cubed
- ~1/2 tsp each cumin, cinnamon and sea salt, divided
- 3/4 cup dry white or red quinoa, rinsed in a fine mesh strainer
- Olive oil
For the dressing:
- 1/2 small ripe avocado
- 1 cup chopped cilantro
- 3-4 small limes, juiced
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive or grape seed oil
- 1/4 tsp each sea salt and cumin
- 1 Tbsp sweetener of choice (such as cane sugar or honey if not vegan)
- Water to thin
For full instructions, check out the original recipe via Minimalist Baker.