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Keeping Cool in the Kitchen: Hot Lunch -> Big Cold Supper Salad

I know this isn’t the case for other regions of the country, but it has already started to get hot here. We’ve already hit 100 and this next week looks like 90s every day.

As the home cook, I don’t really mind cooking breakfast when it’s already 80 degrees. Making a hot lunch at 90 isn’t all that pleasant, but it’s bearable. It is between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. that the heat is the worst, which also happens to coincide with supper-time.

Without air conditioning or fans I try to get creative. Last year we set up the summer kitchen where I could cook outside in the breeze. We’re not quite there yet this year, so I’m implementing a few tricks to manage the heat in the kitchen.

The thing that has helped the most is cooking a hot lunch and turning those leftovers into a big cold supper salad.

So, when the heat of the day hasn’t yet hit its peak I cook up a big pot of grains or starch – usually basmati rice, millet, or potatoes. Along with that we have a protein like meat, beans, cheese, or a combination thereof. And then to round things out there is usually a cooked vegetable.

I make large portions of these foods, much more than could feed our little family in one meal. The leftovers become a giant cold salad filled with grains, cooked vegetables, and meat from lunch. To this I add fresh ingredients like herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, greens, onions, garlic, or whatever else is fresh.

Finally, I dress it. Sometimes that is just oil and vinegar or lemon juice. Other times I will add some sour cream or yogurt or make a homemade ranch dressing.

All of the elements go into a large bowl, or the large pot I cooked the grain/starch in earlier in the day. This gets chilled and then we eat big bowls of this alongside icy beverages as we sit outside in the breeze.

A few frequent hot lunch -> cold supper combinations include:

  • Tacos stacks with rice (instead of tortillas) for lunch -> Taco-Rice Salad for Dinner
  • Potatoes + Meat + Veg for lunch -> Potato Salad with Leftover Meat (or boiled eggs) for Dinner
  • Millet + Beans for Lunch -> Millet-Bean Salad with Cheese, Veg, Salsa, and Herbs for Dinner

Obviously this also saves on time and dishes as well. Right after lunch you throw it all together, chill it, and supper is waiting.

More importantly, you are not on the verge of passing out from heat exhaustion at 5 p.m.

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