Cooking during the summer can be quite a challenge because there is always the question of whether or not turn on the stove and heat the house even more. This is not a problem everywhere but there are definitely some meals that I have come to associate with summer. They are great ways of bringing people together for a fun cooking/eating experience with minimal stove use. Here are my three favorite summer meals:
- Spring Rolls: These are so easy and fun to make with a group of people. They always looked hard to make to me but in reality they are really simple and very easy to customize based on what people like. The bonus is that they are so healthy. Its like a little salad you can eat with your fingers. Ingredients: Spring roll wraps and anything you want to put inside. I usually like one piece of lettuce (per wrap), sprouts, carrots, avocado, cucumber and either egg that has been fried or tofu spiced with cumin. You simply slice up all the veggies into thin strips and lay out ready to roll. The rolling process is easy however it is important to not leave the wrap in water for too long (it becomes so sticky and hard to work with). I place a shallow bowl/plate of water right next to my rolling station. Next put the spring roll wrapper in the water and completely submerge for 5-10 seconds. You want to be able to easily fold it but note that once it is even a little bit wet it will become entirely saturated and won’t go back to its original form. Lay the wrapper on the table (wrapping station) and place everything you want to be inside in the middle of the wrapper. Now you fold it just like you would a present and set on a plate where it will become very sticky and ready to eat. The slightly more complicated step in making spring rolls is the peanut sauce. There are many difference sauces if you don’t like peanut sauce but it is definitely my favorite for spring roll dipping (you can also put some into the spring roll before you wrap it!). I use a recipe for the sauce from a chicken satay recipe which you can find here.
- Sushi: So I love sushi and can eat it basically anytime of year but it is definitely a great summer option. The only thing that really needs to be cooked is the rice. It is also one of those things that you can put anything in depending on your guest’s food preferences. Ingredients: rice (make more than you think, I always run out), this is easier to work with cold so if possible make it before hand and put it in the fridge. After it is finished cooking I add 3 tablespoons of rice vinegar. Sesame seeds are also a great addition. I buy 50-100 packs of seaweed because it is more for your money but you can buy less if you know you won’t use it. I make three rolls so people have options. The first is a spam veggie roll which does require the stove because I cook the spam in a little bit of soy sauce and brown sugar (use low fat/low sodium spam). I add in some carrots and cucumbers and roll it in seaweed and rice. Next I make an imitation crab roll that also has avocado and cucumbers. If we lived near the ocean I would definitely use more fish/real crab. The last one I make is a veggie roll mostly because we usually have at least one vegetarian present. For this one I just use all the veggies I have (i.e. carrots, cucumber and avocado). 3. Finger Food Picnic: This one is pretty self explanatory but picnics are definitely a summer staple and they are fairly easy to organize. Pre-made food is great but last time we had one we brought lots of fruits and veggies and some cheese and sausage. It was the perfect amount of food, really healthy and easy. Location is also key!
Here is to some more great meals and fun in the sun during the last part of summer!