Time to chill in the kitchen

Record high temperatures are being set all over the country this month, and possibly next month. Aside from spending half the day in the water and the other half inside an air-conditioned space, another way you can keep cool is with chilled foods instead of hot meals. No, I don’t mean have ice cream for dinner; nutrition doesn’t take a vacation. Main-dish salads, cool soups and chilled entrees are going to be your best friends this month. When the heat is on, the stove is off.

Chilled Cucumber Soup

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By far the winner in the “anybody can make this” category, this refreshing soup takes about ten minutes from start to finish. Recipe from “Almost Vegetarian” by Diana Shaw; makes 2 servings.

1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped

1 scallion, white part only, minced

1 cup low-fat cottage cheese

1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt

1/2 cup crushed ice

Minced fresh chives, dill and/or mint

In a food processor or blender container, blend cucumber, scallion, cottage cheese and yogurt until smooth. Add crushed ice; process again until mixture thickens. Distribute evenly between two serving bowls; top with herbs of choice and serve immediately.

Creamy Avocado-Citrus Soup

Smooth and tangy, here’s another quick soup or great accompaniment to a sandwich. Recipe from “Raw Foods for Busy People;” makes 4 servings.

2 large avocados, peeled, pit removed

1/2 cup water

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 cup orange juice

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon minced jalapeno

Salt to taste

2 tablespoons Italian seasoning

Combine all ingredients and whisk or blend until smooth. Chill a bit or serve at room temperature.

Deviled Eggs with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Chives

Use deviled eggs on top of your favorite salad greens as an easy salad supper, or chop them and mound onto multi-grain bread for hearty sandwiches. The eggs can be made up to 8 hours in advance (I suggest boiling them in the evening when it’s a bit cooler.) Cover and chill until ready to serve. Recipe from Bon Appetit magazine; makes 6 servings (two halves per serving.)

6 large hard-boiled eggs, shelled

1/4 cup finely chopped, drained, oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes

1/4 cup minced fresh chives

1 tablespoon olive oil

1-1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme

1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

Additional drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, cut into strips

Cut eggs lengthwise in half. Scoop yolks into medium bowl. Mash yolks coarsely with a fork. Finely chop two of the egg white halves; mix into yolks. Add chopped sun-dried tomatoes and next four ingredients; mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon about a tablespoon of filling into each egg half; mound slightly. Top each half with two tomato strips. Chill until ready to serve.

Pasta with Salmon and Green Beans

OK, so you need to boil water; but that’s the extent of heat in the kitchen with this easy and healthy entrée. Makes 4 servings.

1 can (6 oz.) red salmon, drained, bones removed if desired, and separated into chunks

8 ounces small pasta shells or farfalle (bow tie) pasta

3/4 cup fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces

2/3 cup finely chopped carrots (optional)

1/2 cup nonfat cottage cheese

3 tablespoons plain nonfat yogurt

1-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

2 teaspoons grated onion

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1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Place salmon in bowl; set aside. Boil pasta according to package directions. Add green beans during last 3 minutes of boiling. Drain pasta and beans; rinse under cold water until cool. Add pasta, beans and carrots to salmon in bowl; combine gently. Put remaining ingredients in a blender or food processor; process until smooth. Pour over pasta mixture; toss to coat evenly. Serve.