Three Easy No-cook Recipes for Summer Cool-Off

No cook recipes for a cool summer lunch or dinner are essential for those in the south!

Living in the sultry hot mid-south in Memphis, TN, I grew up with a family that knew how to take the heat out of the kitchen during those hot, hot summer afternoons. Cooking during the summer and early fall was almost suicide-and we all knew it. My family had several recipes that had been handed down by grandparents and even great-grandparents. We had a garden and fruit trees, so there was always a huge stock of fresh fruit and vegetables on hand. We also had a big ice-cream freezer and lots of incentive to make freezes and creams to cool off hot, hungry children.

My mother made sure that there was always a dish of her cucumber and sour cream in the refrigerator for anyone to make a light snack of when they came through the kitchen. This and cold gaspacho soup were almost summer staples. Add a cold chicken salad on a bed of fresh Bib lettuce and you’ll have a delicious summer dinner or lunch.

To make the cucumber and sour cream side dish is really simple. I now substitute half of the sour cream with yogurt for health reasons and I try to by low-fat sour cream to reduce calories. First, blend the sour cream and yogurt together into a bowl to make about a cup. Next, take a very fresh, big cucumber and peel it. Then slice the cucumber very thin into a wide but shallow bowl so that you have a layer of the very thin slices covering the bowl’s bottom. Then squeeze half a lemon or less over the cucumber slices, covering them. After this, lightly add salt and pepper and dollop a spoonful or so of the sour cream/yogurt mixture over the cucumbers. Spread this around so that it’s just barely covering the cucumbers evenly. Then you repeat all the steps above, until your cucumber is used up or until your sour cream and yogurt mixture is gone. You can make more or less as you choose. Voila! This is a very simple summer side dish which even children might like. I know I sure did.

My mother’s recipe for ice-cold gaspacho soup was always the highlight of a meal on a hot summer night.

The ingredients are as follows: �½ C. Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 1 can Tomato Soup, 1 C. bullion or chicken stock, 1 clove garlic, 1 large ripe tomato, 1 C. chopped cucumber, 3 Tbsp. Chopped Green pepper, 1/2 tsp. Salt, 2 Tbsp. lemon juice, dash of Louisiana Hot Sauce.

You do not have to chop the vegetables very fine-just enough to get an approximate measurement. Place all the ingredients into a blender and blend to the coarseness you desire. I prefer my soup to be a little on the coarse and chunky side so I can chew the vegetables. You can also add a scallion or two if that suits your fancy. Chill the soup in the refrigerator and serve in chilled cups with a sprig of parsley. Ymmmm. This soup is so delicious and rich. If you want to add some other vegetables in a moderate amount, you can do that too. The fabulous thing about this basic recipe is that it is not only delicious but is packed with vitamins and minerals from all the fresh vegetables. And doctors have been singing the praises of olive oil for its health benefits for quite some time.

Another summer staple was my mother’s home-made chicken salad with capers. In my opinion, it is a travesty to serve your family that sweet, artificially flavored bought chicken salad you can get in the refrigerator section of any grocery. Not only is it not fresh, it usually doesn’t taste good either. Why do that when it is so easy and fun to make your own fresh chicken salad from scratch. Most grocery chains have their own baked whole chickens available for purchase. The ingredients for my salad are as follows and can be altered in proportion according to the taste of the cook. One baked chicken, 1 onion, 2 stalks of celery, vinegar, salt and fresh ground black pepper, mayonnaise, 1 jar of Caper berries, fresh basil leaves.

Chop the chicken but take care not to chop too fine or you will loose texture. You can use just the white meat if you like, but I use a bit of the dark meat and blend the two. I chop the onion and the stalks of celery and sprinkle them in. You can add more later if you think the salad needs to be crunchier. Then I add three large spoonfuls of mayonnaise and stir all together till it is well-blended. Now you can chop your basil leaves and sprinkle them in. Add about half a jar of the Capers and sprinkle everything with some vinegar. I think the Capers and a bit of vinegar are essential along with the mayonnaise because they add dimension and a tart perk to the mild chicken and the creamy mayonnaise. Stir well and add the salt and ground pepper. Now comes the important step-TASTE. If you feel like it needs more of anything, just add it. Keep adjusting till you have the perfect chicken salad. Chill in the refrigerator and Feast!

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