During the sweltering heat of summer, the last thing many of us want to do is turn on the oven or stovetop. Yet, we still want to enjoy delicious, nutritious meals that don’t compromise on flavor. Thankfully, summer provides a wealth of fresh produce and opportunities for lighter, cooler meals that require minimal heat and fuss.
Update Your Kitchen Appliances
Using ovens and stovetops in the summer can make your kitchen unbearable. Some newer kitchen appliance packages come with features to minimize heat output into the surrounding areas or speed up the cooking process so you spend less time in the kitchen. If you want to beat the heat this summer, try updating with brands like Forno Appliances.
Their ovens feature convection cooking that circulates air inside the oven to cook your meals faster and more evenly, while the range hood comes with a power 1,200 CFM rating to minimize heat and moisture emitted from pots on the stovetop while cooking.
To make the most of your outdoor grilling, select the right grill and understand how to achieve optimal grilling results. When shopping for a grill, consider the fuel type, whether charcoal, gas or electric; size; and features such as rotisserie burners and flame-thrower ignition. The Blaze Professional series comes in a range of fuel types and offers features like a huge 1,050 square-inch cooktop and heat zone separators that allow you to cook multiple dishes simultaneously.
Additionally, mastering grilling techniques such as preheating the grill, proper heat control and using direct and indirect heat zones will help you achieve perfectly cooked, flavorful meals, from juicy burgers to exciting grilled desserts.
Use Seasonal Produce
Summer brings a bounty of fresh and flavorful fruits and vegetables at their peak, offering a fantastic opportunity to incorporate them into your meals. From juicy tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers and corn to sweet berries, peaches and melons, the summer season is brimming with variety.
These can be used in salads, grilled for a smoky flavor, blended into refreshing smoothies or in no-bake desserts. They’re also perfect for quick snacks and to keep you hydrated, as many fruits and vegetables have a high water content.
Choose Lighter Recipes
Summer cooking is all about keeping things simple, fresh and light. Choosing lighter recipes can help you feel satisfied without feeling overly full or sluggish. Lighter meals often require less cooking time, keeping your kitchen cooler. Consider meals that feature lean proteins like chicken, fish or tofu combined with various colorful, crunchy vegetables. Salads are a perfect summer meal; they can be made more filling with grilled protein, beans or whole grains.
Cold pasta salads with a tangy vinaigrette and fresh vegetables can be a delicious alternative to traditional hot pasta dishes. Also, don’t forget about chilled soups like tangy green zebra gazpacho or cucumber-yogurt and dill soup, which can be refreshing on a hot day.
Prepare Make-Ahead Meals
Make-ahead meals are convenient and often taste better after the flavors have had a chance to meld. Consider dishes like bean salads or grain bowls that can be made in large quantities and eaten over several days. Cold noodle dishes are also a great option, as they can be enjoyed straight from the refrigerator.
Don’t forget about marinating meats, poultry or tofu in advance, which can be quickly grilled for a delicious, no-fuss meal. You can also prep fruits and veggies ahead of time for quick, easy-to-assemble salads or to have on hand for healthy snacking. Overnight dishes like chia pudding or overnight oats are also perfect for summer breakfasts. They require no cooking, and you can simply grab them from the fridge in the morning.
Use Quick-Cooking Techniques
In the heat of summer, we all want to spend less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying the great outdoors. Quick-cooking techniques like stir-frying, steaming and pressure cooking can help you create tasty meals without spending hours over a hot stove.
With a proper cookware set, you can stir-fry a delicious, nutritious meal in no time. Heat a wok or large skillet, add your choice of protein followed by colorful vegetables and finish with a delicious sauce. This method keeps vegetables crisp and retains nutrients, offering a healthy and quick option for summer meals.
Consider steaming if you’re after a gentle, fast technique for delicate foods. Perfect for fish and vegetables, it cooks them quickly while preserving their nutrients, flavors and natural textures. A bamboo steamer over a pot of boiling water can make a great, simple summer meal. If you have a pressure cooker or an Instant Pot, you can make anything from pulled pork to beans, stews and even risotto in a fraction of the time they’d take on the stovetop.
Make No-Cook Food
When summer heat peaks, sometimes the most appealing option is to skip cooking altogether. No-cook meals can be nutritious, delicious and refreshing while saving time and keeping your kitchen cool.
Salads are a perfect no-cook meal. They’re versatile, light and refreshing. You can make a simple green salad, a hearty grain or pasta salad or even a protein-packed salad with canned tuna, beans or cooked chicken from the deli. Try a variety of fresh, crunchy vegetables, ripe fruits and a sprinkling of nuts or cheese for added flavor and texture. Dress your salad with a simple homemade vinaigrette for a healthy, flavorful finish.
Wraps and sandwiches are another fantastic no-cook option. Using a variety of breads or tortillas, fill them with lean protein, cheese, spreads and a rainbow of fresh vegetables. Try hummus or mashed avocado as a base, and add lettuce, cucumber or bell peppers if you’re after a bit of a crunch. For a sweet note, sliced fruits like apples or grapes can be a great addition.
No-bake desserts are the cherry on top of no-cook summer meals. There are many options, like fruit parfaits with Greek yogurt, no-bake cookie dough or a simple fruit salad with a touch of fresh mint and honey.
Savor the Summer and Master Your Kitchen
Mastering your kitchen during the summer months doesn’t mean enduring sauna-like conditions. You can still create delicious, satisfying meals using simple techniques and light ingredients that make the most of seasonal produce, your kitchen appliances and the grilling season.