The last few weeks San Diego's weather has been unimpressive and then suddenly came the heat. Not just any heat, but the "I've melted into my seat and can't move" kind. If you're anything like me then hot weather equals a loss of appetite and all you want for dinner is a popsicle. It also got me thinking...now that I live closer to the equator with summers full of hot days (as opposed to the central coast where most days are in the 70s), I'm going to need more than just popsicles to sustain myself. There must be some foods that are refreshing and yet supply those necessary calories. So I put together a list of just that.
photo credit: The Adventurous Rabbit
At the top of my list is gazpacho. Gazpacho is a cold Spanish soup that is usually tomato-based although there are many variations. I first had gazpacho when I traveled to Barcelona. That was seven years ago and I finally found a San Diego restaurant (Costa Brava) that serves a gazpacho as good as the one I had in Spain. It's also relatively easy to make since there's no cooking involved. Here's the link for the recipe we tried tonight: http://spanishfood.about.com/od/soupssalads/r/gazpacho.htm (I recommend adding chunks of cucumber after blending)
Next on my list is a Caprese salad (or sandwich). This one is really simple yet the flavor combo is pretty amazing. It involves sliced fresh buffalo mozarella, sliced tomatos, basil leaves and balsamic vinagrette or salt, pepper, and olive oil If you prefer a sandwich stick it on a ciabatta or baguette.
Also easy on digestion are green salads. One of my favorites for summertime is topped with fruit (raspberries, mandarin oranges, green apples), goat cheese (or you can also substitute feta or blue cheese), almonds or walnuts, and raspberry vinaigrette. Any of the salads really are good for hot weather: corn or other vegetable salad, fruit salad or ambrosia, egg salad, tuna salad, potato salad.
Smoothies are pretty much a given for hot weather. I like to blend up orange juice, mixed frozen berries, frozen banana (if I have bananas that start to brown I put them in the freezer with smoothies in mind), and ice. Once in a while I'll add plain yogurt to make it a little creamier. I worked at Jamba Juice for a few months so I've gotten the knack of how much to add of each ingredient down pretty good, but my advise is add more banana and ice to thicken and more juice to thin.
I'm still trying to refine a watermelon cocktail recipe. I did have one made according to Bobby Flay's directions http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/watermelon-tequila-cocktails that was quite refreshing! As my grandpa informed me, watermelon is good for reducing one's temperature when feverish, so it makes sense to ingest in hot weather.
photo credit: http://www.instructables.com/image/FUNPIHBFI8VJL9D/Mast-o-Khiar-Iranian-cucumber-and-mint-yougurt.jpg
There are some Middle Eastern dishes that are pretty satiating - tabbouleh, hummus and pita, mast-o khiar which is a Persian cucumber yogurt dish that I like over rice or with dolmeh (stuffed grape leaves).
Already cooked seafood is good too, like shrimp cocktail. The less oven use the better!