As the weather warms up for summer, using the stove becomes less appealing to busy cooks. However, they still need to feed their families. That's where no-cook meals come in. With the warm weather also comes a plethora of fresh fruits and vegetables. Use these seasonal vegetables, even combine them with leftovers, to produce tasty, cookless meals. In addition to saving electricity or gas by keeping the stove off, you can save money by using leftovers for the no-cook dishes.
With all the types of lettuce available in warm weather, you have plenty of choices for a salad base. Use one type or mix a few for variety. Add sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, carrots or any other item that sounds good to you. Use canned tuna or cold leftover cooked meats, such as shrimp or chicken, for protein. Other protein sources are cold cooked beans or tofu. Use any dressing you like, from a simple, mild combination of olive oil and lime juice to a complex creamy dressing. Chop your salad finely and stuff hollowed-out ripe tomatoes with it. Lay down a bed of tortilla chips and make a taco salad with leftover cold meat, lettuce, tomato, avocado, onion, grated cheese, and salsa or creamy dressing. For dessert, chop some fresh fruit for a cookless fruit salad topped with whipped cream.
Spread two fresh bread slices with butter, mayonnaise, creamy dressing or hummus. Add cheese slices or cold leftover meats to one slice and top with a lettuce leaf and tomato slice. Serve your sandwich with potato chips or another quick side -- such as a three bean salad with canned beans and creamy dressing -- that you don't have to cook. Add or subtract sandwich ingredients such as pickles and onions, depending on the tastes of your family members.
Wrap salad ingredients, creamy dressing, cold leftover meat or cheese slices in flour tortillas or rice paper wraps for wrap sandwiches. Rice wraps are fun for the children because they can soak them in the water themselves and watch the wraps become flexible and translucent. An even healthier option is to use a large lettuce leaf instead of the tortilla or rice paper. Add a dash of ginger dressing for an Asian flavor or some creamy chipotle dressing for a Southwestern flavor. Let the family build their own wraps to cut down on your work so you can take advantage of the cookless meal experience.
Cold soups, such as gazpacho, are cool summer meals that do not require a stove. Cube some cantaloupe, watermelon or cucumber and combine with some tomato puree. Blend to a liquid in the blender. Garnish with a fresh basil leaf or chives and a dollop of sour cream. Serve with a fresh salad topped with creamy dressing and breadsticks for an elegant summer luncheon.
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