Julie Giuffrida is Test Kitchen coordinator for the Los Angeles Times.
Recipes that keep you away from the stove
Summer will be exceptionally blissful this year as we ease into normalcy after the restrictions of the last 14 months. I don’t know about you, but much as I welcome some warmth from the sun and more hours of daylight, I do not particularly want to be shvitzing over a hot stove in the 90+ degree heat we’ve had these last few years.
Enter the summer salad. Rife with superstar produce like juicy tomatoes, sweet corn, crunchy green beans and crisp greens, it can be breakfast, lunch or dinner. It can be a first course, a side dish or an entree. Its components can be prepped ahead so assembly at mealtime can be quick and easy. It is a happy recipient of grilled proteins and vegetables leftover from your last barbeque. And even composed salads can require minimal if any cooking.
Bread salad, a watermelon salad with feta and mint, an heirloom tomato salad and a grappa-marinated peach and basil salad all promise no added heat in your kitchen. Some slicing, some dicing, a sprinkle of this, a drizzle of that and you’ve got a bowl full of bright colors and flavors.
What does minimal cooking mean? Boiling a pot of water or heating a skillet; not heating the oven and being done with the stovetop heat in 30 minutes or less. Making pasta for a salad with Israeli couscous or orzo. Hard-boiling eggs and sautéeing bacon for a spinach salad. Blanching beets, wax beans and haricots vert for a summer vegetable salad. Charring the components of a sausage, okra and corn salad in a skillet on the stove. Toasting pepitas for a kale salad with peaches (hint: Buy them already toasted and you won’t have to “cook” for this recipe either.)
We’ve all heard the expression “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” These salads allow you to do just that — and with some pretty delicious food in tow.
Summer Salad with Israeli Couscous
Israeli couscous adds heft to this Mediterranean salad, a chunkier take on tabbouleh.
Watermelon salad with feta, mint and cumin-lime dressing
Watermelon is so explosively juicy and sweet that you can add all kinds of big tastes — salty feta, jalapenos, toasted cumin, lime, fresh mint — without overwhelming it.
YieldsServes 4 to 6
Summer vegetable salad
Blanched baby Chioggia beets, turnips, green and yellow beans, carrots and pearl onions are tossed with yellow and red cherry tomatoes and lightly dressed with olive oil and lemon.
Charred Okra and Corn Salad With Spicy Sausage Vinaigrette
Crisp, spicy sausage acts as second fiddle to a grab-bag of peak-summer vegetables, including okra, corn and Jimmy Nardello peppers.
YieldsServes 2 to 4
Summer Spinach Salad
Bacon, chopped hard-boiled egg, crumbled feta and avocado add some body to this spinach salad.
Summer Bread Salad
The bread may get top billing in this classic dish, but tomatoes are the real stars. Use the freshest tomatoes you can find.
Summer Kale Salad With Peaches and Pepitas
Juicy peaches, sweet dates and salty roasted pepitas make this lemony kale salad ideal for summer.
YieldsServes 6 to 8
Summer vegetable salad with orzo
Orzo is tossed quickly with vinegar and lemon juice, which combine with the juice from tomatoes to serve as the dressing for an easy summer salad or side dish.
Heirloom Tomato Salad
Heirloom tomatoes need little to shine. Toss thick chunks of them with a vinaigrette and fresh arugula, and add a sprinkling of fleur de sel and cracked black pepper.
Grappa-marinated peach and basil salad
Peaches are marinated in grappa, with a high note of basil for a refreshing summer treat.