With the heat and humidity of summer, the kitchen is the last place most people want to be.
And that’s a shame, according to Here & Now resident chef Kathy Gunst, because this time of year is also the time when fresh vegetables and fruit are most abundant.
Her suggestion? No-cook cooking — using the bounty of summer to make salads and cold soups, spice up leftovers and create yummy desserts.
She shares seven recipes:
Kathy’s Note: Add peach slices, watermelon or melon, or any fruits and vegetables you like. Add hard-boiled eggs or leftover meat, fish or poultry, all chopped into pieces of similar size. Add canned chickpeas, washed and drained. Add za’tar or sumac or cumin to the salad. Add fresh chopped mint instead of, or in addition to, the parsley. This is a salad that adapts well to just about anything.
2 large ripe tomatoes, cubed or 1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 green, red or yellow peppers, cored and cubed
2 cucumbers cut in half lengthwise and into cubes, with or without seeds
2/3 cup chopped fresh parsley, Italian leaf or curly
3 scallions, chopped
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled, or ricotta salata
1/3 cup olive oil
Juice of 1 large lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Gently toss the tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, parsley and scallions. Add the feta cheese, oil and lemon juice, salt and pepper adding more oil or lemon and seasoning to taste. Make about an hour ahead of time. Serve with pita bread or crusty bread slices.
Kathy’s Note: This simple way to transform raw kale comes from my friend Karen Frillmann. The kale is cut into thin slices — like ribbons — and tossed with sea salt, vinegar, olive oil, raisins and nuts. That’s it!
3 cups raw kale, cored and cut into thin slices or ribbons
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
About ¼ cup olive oil
About 2 to 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar, white balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar, or a combination
1/3 cup golden or regular raisins
1/3 cup pine nuts or chopped pecans or walnuts
Kathy’s Note: Plan on letting the soup chill for at least 2 hours.
3 pounds summer tomatoes, cored and chopped
2 to 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 cup stale bread cubes (from leftover bread), cut into small pieces
10 large basil leaves
1/3 cup onion or scallion, chopped
1 cup chopped green or red pepper
1 cup chopped cucumber
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 to 2 teaspoon honey, if tomatoes aren’t very sweet, optional
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 medium tomato or 12 cherry tomatoes, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
1 red or green pepper, chopped
2 scallions, chopped
Working in batches in the container of a food processor or blender, combine the tomatoes, garlic, bread cubes, basil, onion, pepper, cucumber, oil, vinegar, honey, if using and salt and pepper to taste. Blend until almost smooth. The soup will be chunky. Taste for seasoning and add more oil and vinegar if too thick. Season to taste with more salt, pepper and honey.
Serves 4 to 6.
From “Notes from a Maine Kitchen” by Kathy Gunst (Down East Books, 2011)
Kathy’s Note: On a steamy summer day this is the perfect lunch or dinner. The soup is whirled in a blender or food processor and can be made in less than 15 minutes. Chill for several hours (or overnight) and serve with chopped cucumber, dill and mint and a drizzle of lemon oil.
1 1/2 pounds cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped*
1/4 cup fresh dill
1/4 cup fresh mint
1 cup low fat milk or buttermilk
1 cup sour cream or low-fat plain yogurt
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon lemon-flavored olive oil, or 1 tablespoon olive oil plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice, optional
Dash hot pepper sauce
Garnish: 1 cup cucumber (peeled, seeded and finely chopped) mixed with 2 tablespoons finely chopped dill and 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint
Drizzle of lemon olive oil or olive oil mixed with lemon juice, optional
*To seed a cucumber simply cut it in half lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds in the middle.
In the container of a food processor or blender add the cucumbers, dill, mint, milk and yogurt and process until blended, but not totally smooth. Add salt and pepper and hot pepper sauce to taste and drizzle in the olive oil (and lemon juice) if using. Place in a bowl or jar and chill for several hours.
Makes about 4 cups; serves 4 to 6.
Kathy’s Note: Spread this on sandwiches, tacos, leftovers and salads
3 just-ripe avocados
9 tablespoons heavy cream or crème fraîche
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
By Kathy’s daughter Emma Rudolph, whose blog is Never Not Hungry.
Emma’s Note: Traditionally made with whipped cream, this lightened version substitutes heavy whipped cream with surprisingly uncomplicated coconut whipped cream. It’s essential to use full-fat coconut milk, as the recipe will not work with a lower fat content.
14-ounce can unsweetened, full-fat coconut milk
1 tablespoon raw turbinado sugar, or sweetener of choice
Dash vanilla extract
1 box thin chocolate wafer cookies, such as Nabisco
Place the can of coconut milk in the fridge overnight. After a night of chilling, remove the can from the fridge and flip it upside down. Open the can, and at the top (technically the original bottom of the can) you will find the liquid. Discard the liquid into a bowl for another use. Below the liquid you will find condensed, pulpy coconut cream that’s hardened at the bottom of the can. Scoop all the coconut cream into a refrigerated bowl. Whip until fluffy. Incorporate the sugar and vanilla to taste.
Place a cookie on a serving platter and cover the upward-facing side in a thin layer of whipped cream. Place another cookie directly on top of the whipped cream-covered cookie. Continue alternating cookie, then layer of whipped cream, until you are about 8 cookies high. Make multiple stacks until the ingredients are depleted, saving extra whipped cream for topping. Carefully place the stacks on their sides. Cover the horizontal stacks with the remaining whipped cream, or leave them plain and a little jagged, thus resembling a caterpillar. Serve immediately or chill for several hours, loosely covered.
Makes 6 servings.
From “Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook” by Joe Yonan.
Joe’s Note: Here’s why I use those quotation marks: this can’t really be a tart because there’s no baking. Instead, when it’s hot out and I can’t be bothered to turn on the oven, I use a cookie (store bought or homemade), crumbled and bound with some honey, as the crust. Instead of cooked pastry cream, it’s barely sweetened thick yogurt, topped with berries. And I build it in a small glass jar or ramekin for ease of preparation and consumption.
1 tablespoon sliced or slivered almonds
1 chocolate cookie, crumbled or smashed (about ¾ cup of crumbs)
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 cup plain fat-free Greek-style yogurt (may substitute low-fat or whole)
1/2 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
1/4 cup blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, or a mixture.
Sprinkle the almonds into a small skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, shaking the pan frequently, until the almonds have darkened and become fragrant, just a few minutes. Immediately transfer them to a plate to cool; if you leave them to cool in the pan, they can burn.
In a small bowl, mix the cookie crumbs with 1/2 teaspoon of the honey. Scrape the mixture into a ramekin or squat 1/2-pint glass jar, and pack it down evenly to form a crust. In the same bowl, whisk together the yogurt, almond extract, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon honey. Spoon it into the ramekin or jar, top with the berries and almonds, and eat.
Nutty Chocolate Tart:
Base: peanut butter cookie
Yogurt: whisk in cocoa along with honey and vanilla
Topping: toasted chopped peanuts and a drizzle of melted chocolate
Base: shortbread cookie
Yogurt: whisk in strawberry preserves along with honey and vanilla
Topping: sliced strawberries and chopped basil leaves
Fig and Pine Nut Tart:
Base: Italian pignoli (pine nut) cookies
Yogurt: whisk in a little balsamic vinegar with extra honey (and omit vanilla)
Topping: fresh figs, pine nuts, and a touch of chopped rosemary
Citrus Coconut Tart:
Base: oatmeal cookie
Yogurt: whisk in orange marmalade or lemon curd along with honey (and omit vanilla)
Topping: blood orange sections and toasted coconut flakes
MEGHNA CHAKRABARTI, HOST:
It's HERE AND NOW.
And now that we're well into August, are you just too tired of turning on the stove or the oven to cook? Maybe it's just too hot, too humid. Well, never fear. HERE AND NOW resident chef Kathy Gunst joins us in the studio with her ideas for no-cook cooking. Kathy, welcome.
KATHY GUNST, BYLINE: Hello.
CHAKRABARTI: OK, Kathy. I have to say I kind of do dread the idea of sweating in front of a stove in the middle of a heat wave.
GUNST: I think a lot of people - even if it's starting to cool off, it's so ironic because just as all the great fruits and vegetables of summer come into harvest, we tend to lose our interest in cooking 'cause we're just hot.
CHAKRABARTI: Let me tell you though, when I - one of my favorite no-cook cooking dishes - I didn't think of it this way until we started talking about it - is ceviche, right, where you just take raw fish and douse it in lemon or lime juice and...
CHAKRABARTI: ...let the acids to the work.
GUNST: That's right. There's no heat involved. Ceviche is a great South American dish. Some people say it started in Peru or Chile. It is seafood, generally, like shrimp or conch, or it can be lobster. It can be absolutely any type of fish you want. And it is tossed with red onion, tomatoes, lime juice, lots of fresh lime juice, grated lime zest or lemon. And the acid actually changes the texture of the fish so that it tastes like it's cooked after it sits in this marinade for about an hour or so, and it's absolutely - I love it too.
CHAKRABARTI: I'm ready to have one and a mojito on the side.
GUNST: Oh, wow. This is taking a turn. You want to get into drinks already?
CHAKRABARTI: Well, why don't we start with what may be typically a first course or even a main course in the summer, and that's salads.
GUNST: Salads is the obvious way to go when you talk about no-cook cooking. But the possibilities are so much more than tossing iceberg or fabulous greens from your salad, everything from watermelon, tomato, cucumber, red onions, lime and feta. We could talk about chopped salads. One of my favorite, a real Middle Eastern specialty where you take all the great harvests that's out this time of year: ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, red peppers, green peppers, yellow peppers, scallions, you could add feta to this as well, olive oil, lemon and pepper, that's it.
But then you could really twist it around. You could add ripe peach slices. Peaches get along really well with salty cheeses like feta and tomatoes and cucumbers. These kind of chopped salads are exactly what they sound like. You take some ingredients and you chop them.
GUNST: And then you throw olive oil and fresh lemon juice and pepper on and sea salt and you're there.
GUNST: I've a very good friend, Karen Frillmann, who grows a lot of raw kale. So right before you is her idea for a salad.
GUNST: This is raw kale.
CHAKRABARTI: A kale salad in front of me. OK.
GUNST: So I just took it out of my garden a few hours ago, and I cut it into ribbons - chiffonade is what Julia Child would call it - but just thinly sliced. And I tossed it with olive oil and white wine vinegar, sea salt.
CHAKRABARTI: And is this...
GUNST: Those are raisins.
CHAKRABARTI: Raisins and pecans?
GUNST: Those are pecans. Karen uses pignoli nuts, but I didn't have any.
GUNST: You could, if you want to cheat, toast the nuts so they are tiny bit warm. But what happens is that the salt softens the kale. So taste that, it doesn't taste raw. It's not like - it doesn't - it almost looks cooked, doesn't it? It looks like green pasta.
CHAKRABARTI: Hmm. A nice bright green color...
CHAKRABARTI: ...that you get with a light steam sometimes.
GUNST: And I just - I really love that salad. You let it sit for about 15 minutes and that's what you get. You have the sweet and the crunch.
CHAKRABARTI: That is delicious.
GUNST: Isn't it? I mean, that's a 10-minute no-cook salad. You could take carrots and zucchini and use a wide vegetable peeler and cut ribbons off of those and make the salad with raw vegetables.
CHAKRABARTI: So I'm hearing basically a running theme here, which is you can do a lot with a medley of gorgeous fresh vegetables. And the salad isn't the only sort of presentation for it, right?
GUNST: Oh, not at all. I also want to say that all those salads would make great sandwiches. Everything we just talked about could be placed on really delicious bread.
CHAKRABARTI: So let's talk about something else that you have brought here that's in front of me, so I can't stop myself.
GUNST: You can't ignore it.
CHAKRABARTI: And it's actually something that I think tastes better cold anyway. And you brought a gazpacho.
GUNST: I brought a gazpacho. You would never have - a gazpacho is a cold Spanish soup. This is essentially a salad that's been pureed. I make this one with tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, scallions. I add a little bit of vinegar and olive oil and sea salt and basil. It also has some breadcrumbs in it which is why it's so thick. And then it's garnished beautifully with all of those raw ingredients. So have a taste of that...
GUNST: ...because that is a whole meal right there. But we could also talk about cucumber soup with buttermilk and dill. This is a recipe we'll have on the website. Isn't that refreshing?
CHAKRABARTI: It's delicious.
GUNST: Yeah. That's a 10 - if you have a blender or a food processor, that is a 10-minute soup.
CHAKRABARTI: This soup is at risk of interrupting the entire interview because it's so good.
GUNST: We've got time here.
GUNST: OK. She did put it down.
CHAKRABARTI: Now, what about things like, not sauces per say, but pesto maybe. I mean, I tried the other day to do a broccoli-based pesto. I had to cook the broccoli. Personally, it didn't work out for me because I put too much garlic in it but...
GUNST: Yeah, that's not jazzing me too much...
GUNST: ...but how about cilantro-pistachio?
GUNST: How about mint-almond? A pesto does not have to be the classic basil and pine nuts. You could use any herb and any nut. And you can go crazy with that. Cilantro and pistachio is fantastic with leftover chicken. So that's a whole other subcategory here. Sauces and pestos and toppings are great at making cold foods and leftover foods come alive again.
We talked about pesto. Another really quick thing is an avocado cream where you puree ripe avocados with a little bit of heavy cream or creme fraiche and salt and pepper and you get this gorgeous pale green cream that you could spread on a taco with some leftover steak or chicken or you could scatter one of those salads on top of it and keep it vegetarian. Really simple but really popping the flavors of late summer.
CHAKRABARTI: Wow. Honestly, I'm starting to get really hungry...
CHAKRABARTI: ...just listening to you describe the way that the - popping is a good word because there's so many bold flavors with summer.
GUNST: And I think people think if you don't cook food that it's dull. I'm not talking about the raw food movement, which is a whole other subcategory of cuisine. I'm talking about taking harvested, delicious, seasonal fresh foods and really just enjoying them without heating up the kitchen or even your grill. But, you know what, it goes even further. We could talk about drinks and even dessert...
CHAKRABARTI: Right, well, I've mentioned that mojito earlier.
GUNST: The mojito got me going.
CHAKRABARTI: I don't know if that's on your list but...
GUNST: It's not, but how about a milkshake using ginger ice cream and coconut milk? So you're not using a lot of heavy dairy. You throw it into a blender. One, two, three, you've got this gorgeous milkshake, or a lemon sorbet with fresh mango and coconut milk and fresh mint.
My daughter, who's a budding food writer, Emma Rudolph, just wrote a piece about her grandmother's caterpillar cake, where you take chocolate cookies and then she made it lighter. Instead of whipped cream, she whips coconut milk. You take a can of light coconut - no, full fat coconut milk, you chill it overnight and you whip it and it becomes like whipped cream and it's way lighter and less calories. And then you assemble - you take a cookie, some of the cream, cookie, cream and it looks like a caterpillar, and this was one of her childhood favorites.
Another favorite, a friend of mine, Joe Yonan, who's just written a wonderful new book about vegetables, and he does what he calls a tart in a jar where he crumbles cookies with a little honey, puts it like in the bottom of a little glass jar and layers it with whipped cream or yogurt and fresh berries so that it looks like a fruit tart. No cooking, really clever, wonderful idea. Fruit kebabs, fruit salads, we could go on all day.
CHAKRABARTI: We could go on all day.
GUNST: We need to eat the rest of that gazpacho.
CHAKRABARTI: Yeah, don't keep it from me any longer. It is so delicious. Well, HERE AND NOW resident chef Kathy Gunst with her no-cook cooking ideas. We'll have recipes for that kale salad and the gazpacho and more at our website, hereandnow.org. Kathy, thank you so much.
GUNST: Thank you. This was fun.
CHAKRABARTI: OK, back to eating for me.
ROBIN YOUNG, HOST:
Oh, hold on a second, Meghna, because she left out one really important option...
CHAKRABARTI: What's that?
YOUNG: ...for keeping the stove cool. Order out.
CHAKRABARTI: Order out.
YOUNG: Where was that?
CHAKRABARTI: That would work. But then that's nowhere near as fun as making a homemade salad and all that sort of delicious stuff. But anyway, definitely, take a look at hereandnow.org for those recipes. They are amazing. From NPR and WBUR Boston, I'm Meghna Chakrabarti.
YOUNG: I'm Robin Young. This is HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Jeremy Hobson joins Robin Young as co-host of Here & Now in its new 2-hour format, from WBUR and NPR.
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