Cold Food for Hot Days

When hot weather rolls in, I tend to lose my motivation for cooking.  It takes a lot for me to get over that.  If I lived by myself, I would probably just live on crackers and iced tea for the whole summer.  However, for some reason, the boys (big and small) all expect to be fed, even when it’s over 90 degrees outside!  Who wants to turn on the stove or oven in that heat?

Well, this past week has been one of those weeks.  We’ve been eating leftovers and stuff reheated from the freezer and, one day, I even broke down and made an instant meal.

This is a cold Korean noodle soup.  All you have to do is boil the noodles, drain them, and rinse them until they are cold.  Then, you pour over the cold broth that comes in the same packet (you can make your own broth, but that kinda defeats the purpose of not cooking, doesn’t it?).  I added some leftover panfried pork belly, sliced cucumbers and carrots, and a boiled egg.  An ice cube helps keep everything cold and refreshing.  The boys were not too thrilled with the noodles in this dish.  They are made with buckwheat and have a kind of sticky, stretchiness that makes them a little difficult to eat.  I’m not sure they’d be too overjoyed to get this served to them again.

Well, as the weather continued to be hot and humid after this, I had to come up with some other food that wouldn’t overheat me in the kitchen.  Luckily, this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe is also a cold dish:

Lentil, Lemon, and Tuna Salad

I did have to get over some initial motivation problems with this one.  It’s really three recipes in one, so it is a little more involved than it initially appears.  Once I got started, though, it wasn’t too bad.  It was about an hour and a half from start to finish and I ate my lunch somewhere in there.

You start with some french lentils, which I got from Whole Foods, and cook them up (twice, technically).  I think the initial boil and rinse was a good step to rinse away some of the dusty starchiness of the lentils.

Then, while the lentils were cooking away, I made the olive tapenade from the back of the book.  I am not sure it turned out as smooth as it was supposed to be…my little mini prep bowl didn’t seem to want to process it any further than this.

Lastly, I made the vinaigrette and tossed everything together.  This is the first time I have tried tuna packed in oil and I have to say it was a revelation.  Wow!  That is good stuff and expensive, too.  I may have tried to lick the jar.  I was excited to use some of the preserved lemon that I made last year.  These things are pretty strong, so a little goes a long way.  After it was all mixed up, it had a little rest in the fridge while I mixed up a couple of bread doughs.  I guess I was feeling a little ambitious that day.  It probably helped that the temperature was in the low 80’s rather than 90’s.

It certainly isn’t much to look at.  Serving the salad on a bed of greens with goat cheese on top helped to detract from its drab color.  It was pretty flavorful, though.  Everybody ate their portion, some with more enthusiasm than others, but I’d say that was a success with all the strong and new flavors in this dish.  The preserved lemon really did contribute a nice brightness to the salad and we all thought that there could have been more tuna.  We are a fish loving family, I guess.  Also, I think the lentils I got must be on the small side.  They were a little on the mushy side after 25 minutes of cooking.

All in all, I was pleasantly surprised by this dish.  It wasn’t an extreme amount of trouble (it would have been a lot easier with store bought tapenade) and it was a nice, light dish.  I am looking forward to eating some of this today, as I think the flavors might be even better after a full day.  The boys definitely preferred this dish to the noodles I served them earlier in the week.  If I can get over the cost of the tuna,  I would make this again.

What do you think?  What do you like to eat on a hot day?

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Posted on June 1, 2012, in Cooking, French Fridays with Dorie and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Good on you for giving this one a try! It just did not seem that appetizing to me when I read the recipe so this is the first one I’ve skipped but after seeing what everyone has done with it and hearing that everyone really liked the flavors, I’m kind of regretting it. Maybe I’ll make it this weekend. For what it’s worth, I think the cold noodle soup sounds really good!

  2. thekitchenlioness

    You preserved lemons last year?! I must admit I have never done that. And you prepared your own black olive tapenade – wonderful! My kids loved this lentil salad but that might be because they are used to eating lentil soup.

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  3. Great post! I would’ve rather had your cold Korean soup over the lentil salad.

  4. I want to put up some preserved lemons, but I haven’t gotten around to it (and will have to wait until they’re in season again, I suppose). I’m impressed you had some of your own on hand for this! We enjoyed this salad too and you’re right, it’s even better the next day.

  5. You were smart putting some goat cheese in it I think that would have been better than the tuna.

  6. All this whining about not liking to cook in the hot weather and then I read about homemade olive tapenade, preserved lemons (on hand) and baking your own bread, in addition to the lentil salad. Well done. I would have loved the Korean tastes but do understand why “younger and male” might not. If you have a Trader Joe’s in your area, they have a very good tuna packed in olive oil (their brand) that is not too expensive. It works.

  7. I’m jealous of your jarred yellowfin tuna – it looks amazing! I wish I had thought of adding cheese to the salad.

  8. The tuna in olive oil was a nice revelation, wasn’t it?
    Lovely salad.

  9. This was perfect for a hot day. I really enjoyed it too. You are right that lentils aren’t pretty, but I love them so much that I forget and just see something delicious.

  10. I was also amazed the first time I tried oil-packed tuna in a glass jar. It is so much better, and so expensive. I tell myself it’s still less expensive than buying fresh fish, or eating out….I could live on bread, cheese, and salad in the summer, but unfortunately my husband seems to expect actual meals 🙂

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