Sear a steak? OK. Roast a brisket? No way!

Kale, pepitas and sliced peaches on a plate.
Summer Kale Salad With Peaches and Pepitas.
(Genevieve Ko / Los Angeles Times)
Share via

Hi, I’m The Times’ Test Kitchen coordinator Julie Giuffrida, filling in for Ben Mims.

This long-term extreme heat wave we are in the midst of is headline news across the country. Of course, The Times has published what locals need to know about temperatures, fire danger and the like. While we all talk about the weather, I am here to discuss eating to beat the heat and to provide you with recipe ideas for what will be a blistering holiday weekend.

I won’t go so far as to say don’t cook at all, but I do suggest avoiding the outdoor grill (wildfire precaution) and keeping oven time to a minimum (don’t heat up the house any more than the sun already will). Better, if you need an oven, use a multicooker or toaster oven. Best, make dishes and meals that make minimal, if any, use of heat sources. A few minutes on the stovetop to make your ice cream base, blanch a few veggies or sear a steak? OK. Three hours in the oven to cook a brisket? Maybe that’s a “No way!” until the weather cools a bit.

This week I wrote about some terrific frozen desserts to make for cooling off during this scorcher of a weekend. They do require a little bit of stovetop heat, but it’s all in the freezer from there — and such a sweet reward. If those recipes are more elaborate than you care for, maybe ice pops are more your speed.

Of course, salads are an obvious go-to in hot times such as these. This Brazilianesque Black Bean Salad is a perfect example. There are components you can make yourself but just as easily purchase premade. For example, you can cook the black beans in your multicooker, or open a few cans. You can roast and peel the red peppers or pick up a jar at the grocery store. Either way, the salad will come together in cool serenity.

A kale salad with peaches and pepitas is a perfect way to beat the heat and take in the delicious, juicy stone fruit that is so abundant right now. The salad is full of contrasting textures and the taste of summer. I like to swap in nectarines for the peaches.

And remember, you can always pick up a rotisserie chicken rather than roasting the bird yourself. Shred the chicken to use in one of the above salads or in one of these summery chicken salads that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. One of my favorites is Lunch’s Green Apple Chicken Salad. It uses ingredients that I typically have on hand, and I love the mix of textures and flavors. I must confess, though, that I substitute dried cranberries for the raisins.


Recipes that use a multicooker, slow cooker or pressure cooker are a blessing when you want to keep the kitchen cool. I wrote about them last month — check out the list.

Finally, we will all need some great cocktails and mocktails to get through this seemingly never-ending heat wave. A Strawberry Jamaica Agua Fresca suits me just fine. Its bright magenta color is enchanting to look at, and I love the play between the tart hibiscus and the sweet notes of the berries.

Brazilianesque Black Bean Salad

Black beans are mixed with hearts of palm, roasted red peppers, diced avocado and white onion for a sprightly blend in a cumin- and cilantro-spiked vinaigrette.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 15 minutes.

Close-up shot of a spoonful of beans, avocado and red pepper.
Brazilianesque Black Bean Salad.
(Kirk McCoy / Los Angeles Times)

Summer Kale Salad With Peaches and Pepitas

Juicy peaches, sweet dates and salty roasted pepitas make this lemony kale salad ideal for summer.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 25 minutes

Enjoying this newsletter?

Consider becoming a Times subscriber.


Lunch’s Green Apple Chicken Salad

Lunch’s chicken salad is a deliciously simple dish. It combines diced chicken with a little red onion, celery, currants and apple for a nice crunch, great color and a wonderfully fresh combination of flavors not unlike a classic Waldorf.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 25 minutes.

A mixture of diced chicken and green apple.
Lunch’s Green Apple Chicken Salad.
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Strawberry Jamaica Agua Fresca

Hibiscus tea blended with strawberries and a little sugar make this stunningly pretty, deep magenta jamaica agua fresca.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 20 minutes.

A glass of Strawberry Jamaica Agua Fresca with ice.
Strawberry Jamaica Agua Fresca.
(Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)

Have a cooking question?

Email us.