Kathy’s Home & Garden Tips – Light Dinners for Hot Weather

The entire Midwest has just gone through its second extreme heat event. Although no one really feels like eating when it’s so hot, we definitely want some cool recipes. I use an indoor grill pan when it’s too hot to grill outside.

Go meatless and Greek style. Toss garbanzo beans with chopped onions, celery, pitted kalamata olives, and crumbled feta cheese. Dress with olive oil and red wine vinegar, then sprinkle with dried oregano. Cut pita bread into quarters, brush lightly with olive oil, and grill quickly. Serve with garbanzo salad.

Chicken cooks quickly and is light when it’s hot. Cut chicken breasts into tenders, about the size of your finger or use pre-cut. These are too expensive for me, when it’s so easy to cut your own. Marinate in your favorite Italian dressing. Or you can go Greek again by combining olive oil, lemon juice, and oregano. Grill quickly and serve warm on a bed of romaine leaves, grape tomatoes, and black olives with extra dressing. WARNING—do not use the marinade from raw chicken on the salad. Always make extra to use instead! Sirloin steak works well here too.

We’ve haven’t had any garden tomatoes yet, but you can find some fairly decent ones in the market now. Sometimes, we just slice them and serve with cucumbers and Italian dressing for a light, cool supper. Slice fresh French or Italian bread on the side. Finish with colorful, sweet, and cool melon balls.

Mix halved cherry tomatoes, black olives, salami, mozzarella cubes, chopped celery, and onion with ooked and chilled bowtie pasta. You can use Italian dressing or any other non-sweet Italian style vinaigrette.

Even though grilled cheese is great in winter with a bowl of hot soup, it’s also delicious for hot summer fare. Try different cheese besides American. Sharp cheddar, Swiss, Muenster, or Colby Jack all work well individually or combined. Here’s another place for sliced, homegrown tomatoes. There are few things better than a grilled cheddar, Swiss, and tomato! I could eat them every day.

Be a little creative this summer and think beyond salad! Bon appetit!