Beat the heat with these 3 stellar summer dinner recipes – no oven required
We've had our fair share of sweltering heat in Seattle lately, and the last thing we feel like doing on 90 degree days is turning on the oven or firing up the stove. Beat the heat with these three recipes which look to other cooking mediums to keep your family well-fed and your kitchen blissfully cool.
Grilled pork bánh mì
Sandwiches for dinner are always a hit in my house, and this Vietnamese classic is no exception. Kids love the sweet and tangy pickled vegetables that brilliantly cut the richness of the pâté. Place bowls of the various toppings out on the table, and everyone can make their own just as they like it.
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely shredded
¼ lb daikon (or red radishes), coarsely shredded
½ cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
½ tablespoon salt
1.25 lb pork tenderloin
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1-inch piece of ginger, grated
1 long crusty baguette
Smooth pork pâté (such as liverwurst)
Handful of cilantro
2 jalapeño peppers, sliced (optional)
½ English cucumber, thinly sliced
To make the pickled radish and carrots, stir the sugar and salt into the vinegar, then add the shredded vegetables. Let stand at room temperature for at least an hour.
Cut the pork crosswise into 1-inch medallions. Place pork slices between sheets of plastic wrap and pound with a mallet until around ¼” thick. Add soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar, garlic and ginger to a bowl, then add pork and mix well. Cover and let marinate for an hour.
Heat your grill to medium-high, then cook pork for around 3 minutes each side, until cooked through.
Slice the baguette lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 4 pieces. Spread the cut sides with mayo, then spread a layer of pâté on the bottom half. Lay the grilled pork on top of the pâté, then top with the pickled vegetables, cilantro, jalapeños (if using), cucumber, and lettuce.
Jamaican pulled pork sandwiches
Slow cookers are a great tool for getting dinner on the table without having to turn to your oven, but many of the dishes we associate with the slow cooker – stews, braises – are better suited to the winter months. However, this summery slow-cooked fare breaks that rule: the sweetly-spiced pork and its cooling tropical slaw puts you in the mood for pool parties and long days at the beach. (And for spice fans, a few drops of hot sauce added to the meat are a welcome addition.)
Serves 4, with leftovers
½ cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons dried thyme
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
3lb boneless pork shoulder, cut into 3 pieces
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
½ cup orange juice
¼ cup lime juice
¼ cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
Juice of 1 lime
1 ripe mango, diced
½ savoy cabbage, thinly sliced
½ red onion, thinly sliced
½ cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
4 kaiser rolls
Mix the ingredients for the jerk seasoning together in a large bowl. Add the pork to the bowl and rub the seasoning and the garlic all over. Pour the orange and lime juices over the pork, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
In the morning, place the pork and its marinade in the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.
Meanwhile, make the coleslaw. Whisk the yogurt, mayo, vinegar, honey and lime juice together in a large bowl. Add the mango, cabbage and onion. Toss to coat, then season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate for at least an hour for the flavors to develop. (Note: if you like your onion with a little less bite, soak the slices in cold water for 10 minutes before adding them to the bowl.) Right before serving, mix in the chopped cilantro.
Once the pork is cooked through and fall-apart tender, remove to a cutting board and shred the meat with a knife and fork. Mix shredded pork and ½ cup of the cooking juices together in a bowl and season to taste.
Split the rolls, add a heap of the pulled pork, and top with the slaw.
(Note: the pork and coleslaw are also delicious served with rice, for a different – and gluten-free – variation.)
Southwestern taco salad
On the hottest days, sometimes all we want for dinner is a cooling salad. This Southwestern dish takes all of our favorite elements of a taco meal and combines them in a hearty and refreshing salad that fills us up but doesn’t weigh us down. The bright and cooling cilantro-lime dressing pulls it all together, and the crunchy topping of tortilla chips makes this irresistible to kids and adults alike.
2 boneless and skinless chicken breasts
1 head of Romaine lettuce, chopped
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 avocado, diced
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 cup corn kernels
1 cup queso fresco, crumbled
1 cup crushed tortilla chips
½ cup full-fat Greek yogurt
½ cup chopped cilantro
¼ cup lime juice
1 clove of garlic, crushed
¼ cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat your grill to medium-high. Brush both sides of the chicken breasts with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the chicken for about 6 minutes on each side until cooked through. Set aside to rest.
Meanwhile, make the dressing. Place yogurt, cilantro, lime juice and crushed garlic in a food processor and blend until smooth. With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil until emulsified. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (If you don’t have a food processor, just finely chop the cilantro and whisk into the other ingredients.)
Place chopped lettuce in a large salad bowl. Top with beans, avocado, tomatoes and corn. Drizzle on the dressing, then toss to coat. Cut the chicken breasts into slices and lay on top of the salad. Top with the crumbled queso fresco and tortilla chips.
Jo Eike is a writer and a cook always in search of her next favorite recipe. She lives in Seattle with her husband and three children.