In the summertime, there's no shortage of reasons not to cook. There's the heat, for one thing. When you live in a veritable oven, why turn on another one? There's the desire to escape to the lake, the beach, the mountains, or the industrially air-conditioned library. There's the appeal of a perfectly ripe peach for a snack and a crisp, lightly dressed salad for a lunch that makes you melt only proverbially. There's the fact that my kitchen was ripped out this weekend, along with half the house. But that's a story for another time.
Maybe it's just because I tend to see the world through beet-colored glasses, but when cooking drops low on the to-do list, fruits and vegetables rise to the top. For protein, there's canned beans and canned tuna, eggs (not raw, but not exactly onerous in the cooking department no matter how you like them), hummus, nuts and nut butters, yogurt, and plenty of cheese. This kind of summer eating has the benefit of being almost suspiciously inexpensive, to boot, so you can save your money for things like sushi (when you feel like paying someone else to not cook for you) and, ahem, home renovations.
Fruits and Veggies
In the fruit and vegetables department, sometimes pure simplicity is just the ticket. Where there's a perfect tomato or a sliced cucumber (and maybe a couple of children), there needn't be anything else. Heading out for a day at the pool or a leisurely hike (or smuggling snacks into the library, but don't tell 'em I sent ya), it's best not to overcomplicate things.
Other times, like when you want to show off a little at a picnic or for company but still have the smarts not to turn on the stove, you might want to step it up a little with something like a bright, balanced raw beet salad or a tomato cherry salad.
And finally, sometimes you just want a great sandwich. There should be more sandwiches in the world that really show off veggies, don't you think? Two of my favorites are these Spicy Peanut, Carrot and Snap Pea Wraps from Sunset Magazine and the Veggie Pita Sandwiches with tzatziki.
One million years ago when I was fifteen, I vacationed with my family on Block Island, off the coast of Rhode Island. At a little shack on the water with picnic tables for seating, I ate a sandwich like this, and I've never forgotten it. Something tells me this is a safe space to confess that kind of obsession.
What about you? What do you eat at home when you can't bear to turn on the stove? And how do fruits and vegetables factor in? Let us know in the comments.
You may know Carolyn Cope as Umami Girl. She stops by on Tuesdays with ideas on preparing the abundance of fruits and vegetables you might get from your CSA or the market. —The Mgmt.