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Five dinner recipes to cool you down on a hot day

·7 min read
High summer produce comes together in this simple mix (Getty/iStock)
High summer produce comes together in this simple mix (Getty/iStock)

It arrived just in time for a major heatwave: a big project devoted to simple salads, with 20 recipes that capture all that is fresh and fragrant and vibrant in summer. Get the full package here. These are what you make for dinner when you can’t fathom turning on the oven, and you pair it with an icy cold drink.

You’ll see a few of the salad recipes below are from Genevieve Ko, who led this salad extravaganza along with Cathy Lo. Genevieve has such a keen sense of how to combine flavors and textures – elements that are essential to all good cooking but are particularly integral to good salads.

Sweetcorn salad with tomatoes, basil and coriander

High summer produce comes together in this simple mix, tangy with lime juice and full of fresh herbs. Even in the height of the season, sweetcorn gets a touch sweeter when heated, and the easiest way to do it is in the microwave. It takes just a few minutes to zap the corn cobs, which makes them easy to shuck. The silks will slip right off the sweeter and still-crisp corn. Picking basil and coriander leaves by hand then tearing them right over the salad keeps their delicate fragrance intact. Serve this with anything off the grill or alongside tacos or sandwiches.

By: Genevieve Ko

Serves: 4 to 6

Total time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

5 corncobs

300g cherry or plum tomatoes, halved

1 lime

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Salt

¼ tsp minced seeded fresh habanero or other very hot chilli (optional)

10g fresh basil leaves

5g fresh coriander leaves

Method:

1. Microwave the corn on high for 3 minutes. Cut the kernels off the cobs, transfer them to a large bowl and add the tomatoes.

2. Finely grate the zest of the lime directly over the corn mixture, then squeeze the juice from the lime all over. Add the oil, a generous pinch of salt and the chilli, if using. Mix well, then tear the herbs over the salad and gently fold them in. Season to taste with salt and serve, or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 day.

Tuna salad with hot and sweet peppers

Inspired by the oil-and-vinegar tuna salads of the Mediterranean, this version includes new-world peppers. Letting thin slices of hot and sweet peppers sit with vinegar and salt for a few minutes gives them a pickled taste without taking away their crispness. It also makes for a sharp dressing when mixed with the olive oil from oil-packed tuna. Celery and parsley bring freshness to this blend, which is wonderful on its own and versatile enough to be spooned over toast or tossed with lettuce or pasta.

By: Genevieve Ko

Serves: 4

Total time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

1 red, orange or yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 hot green chilli, such as serrano, seeded if desired, thinly sliced

1½ tbsp sherry or red wine vinegar

Salt and black pepper

2 celery stalks

2 (140g) tins or 1 (200-225g) jar tuna packed in olive oil

6g fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped

Method:

1. Toss the pepper and the chilli with the vinegar and a big pinch of salt in a large bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the celery into ½cm dice.

2. Add the celery, tuna with all of its oil and chopped parsley to the peppers. Toss until the tuna flakes into bite-size pieces and everything is well mixed, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Green bean and tofu salad with peanut dressing

This streamlined salad works well as a vegetarian main dish to eat with rice or noodles (Getty/iStock)
This streamlined salad works well as a vegetarian main dish to eat with rice or noodles (Getty/iStock)

Inspired by the combination of peanut sauce with vegetables in southeast Asia, found in dishes such as gado gado in Indonesia and summer rolls in Vietnam, this streamlined salad would work just as well as a vegetarian main dish to eat with rice or noodles. The green beans are cooked for only a short while so that they stay crunchy. If you prefer floppy beans, you can cook them longer. And if you want something more refreshing and don’t want to turn on the stove, you can skip the beans altogether and use cutup cucumbers and tomatoes instead.

By: Genevieve Ko

Serves: 4

Total time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

Salt

60g crunchy peanut butter

2 tbsp hoisin sauce

1 tbsp fresh lime juice

1 tsp sugar

¼ tsp red-pepper flakes, plus more for sprinkling

340g green beans, trimmed and cut into 5cm lengths

1 (400g) box extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into 2½cm cubes

Method:

1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, stir the peanut butter, hoisin, lime juice, sugar and red-pepper flakes in a large bowl. Add 2 tablespoons boiling water from the saucepan to the peanut dressing and stir well. The dressing should be runny but still thick. If needed, stir in another tablespoon boiling water.

2. Add the green beans to the boiling water and cook until brighter in colour and just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain well, rinse under cold water until cool, then drain again. Transfer the green beans and tofu to the peanut dressing and stir gently until evenly coated. Season to taste with salt, then sprinkle with more red-pepper flakes. Serve immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Pasta salad

Everything you could want in a bowl (Getty)
Everything you could want in a bowl (Getty)

This pasta salad has everything you could want in the bowl: loads of ripe tomatoes, chunks of mozzarella, sliced olives, salami and plenty of fresh green herbs, all tossed in a garlicky, oregano-spiked red wine vinaigrette. Serve it the same day it’s made for the brightest flavour and best texture.

By: Melissa Clark

Serves: 8 to 10

Total time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

For the dressing:

3 tbsp red wine vinegar, plus more to taste

1 garlic clove, finely grated or minced

1 tsp dried oregano

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

80ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

For the pasta:

450g short-cut pasta, such as farfalle

300g cherry or plum tomatoes, halved

8 ounces mozzarella, cubed (or use small mozzarella balls)

225g sliced salami, cut into ½cm ribbons

45g sliced Kalamata olives

50g thinly sliced cucumber

3 tbsp diced red onion

50g coarsely chopped fresh parsley and basil leaves

Method:

1. Make the dressing: combine vinegar, garlic, oregano and a big pinch each salt and pepper in a large bowl. Whisk in oil; taste and add more salt, pepper or vinegar as needed. Set aside.

2. Prepare the pasta: bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package directions until the pasta is al dente. Drain well, transfer to the large bowl, and toss with the dressing while still warm.

3. Add tomatoes, mozzarella, salami, olives, cucumber and onion to the bowl and toss well; fold in herbs. Taste and season with more salt, pepper and vinegar, if you like.

4. Drizzle with olive oil and top with cracked black pepper just before serving.

Chicken and herb salad with nuoc cham

Nuoc cham gives this simple, satisfying salad a salty-sweet finish (Getty/iStock)
Nuoc cham gives this simple, satisfying salad a salty-sweet finish (Getty/iStock)

Nuoc cham, a Vietnamese sauce bright with lime juice and chilli, is tossed into this simple, satisfying salad to give it a salty-sweet finish. Thinly sliced bell pepper and shaved cabbage provide crunch, while meat pulled from a shop-bought rotisserie chicken – or any leftover chicken – soaks up the dressing. Serve this by itself, or alongside steamed rice or room-temperature cooked rice vermicelli.

By: Yewande Komolafe

Serves: 4 servings

Total time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

2 tbsp sugar

1 garlic clove, minced

1 bird’s-eye chilli or other small hot chilli, minced with seeds

60ml fresh lime juice (from 2 limes)

3 tbsp fish sauce

340g chicken meat (pulled from shop-bought rotisserie chicken or roast chicken)

180g thinly sliced red or green cabbage

1 small English cucumber, thinly sliced

1 medium bell pepper (any colour), thinly sliced

25g peppery leafy greens, such as watercress with tender stems or rocket

20g Thai or sweet basil leaves

30g mint leaves

85g crispy fried shallots or onions, store-bought or homemade

Method:

1. In a large bowl, combine the sugar and 60ml water. Whisk to dissolve the sugar. Add the garlic, chilli, lime juice and fish sauce. Stir to combine.

2. Add the chicken, cabbage, cucumbers and bell pepper to the dressing. Toss to coat. Add the leafy greens and the basil and mint leaves. Toss to combine.

3. Divide the salad among bowls, garnish with the crispy shallots and serve immediately.

© The New York Times