I could eat out, but that’s not always practical on the budget of an unemployed person. So, I do the next best thing: I keep a lot of foods on hand that I can assemble into a plate in just a few moments. They include several types of salami and cold cuts, cheeses, pickled items like hearts of palm and asparagus, olives, and plenty of raw vegetables, such as radishes, celery, cucumbers and carrots.
I don’t buy bottled salad dressings, but having a jar of ranch or blue cheese would give you an instant dip. Chips and salsa and a piece of ripe fruit could also round out the meal.
And a glass of chilled dry rosé not only takes the edge off the heat of the day, it also complements everything from the peppery salami to the tart olives.
All of these items, from wine to cheese, also work well when friends drop by unannounced and you want to serve them something quickly.
Taking a practical approach to what you keep in stock, whether in the refrigerator or pantry, can help you beyond surviving the heat.
I recently hosted a pinochle night at my house. Some of the friends I play cards with regularly are known for their desserts, so I made something savory and, as fortune would have it, so did everyone else. That left at least one person with a craving for something sweet. I solved the problem by tossing together pecans from the freezer with chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, shredded coconut and assorted dried fruit (cranberries, blueberries, cherries) from my baking larder. Poured into little bowls, the mix was perfect for the card table.
When all this seems too snacky and not substantial enough for a meal, I turn to my raw food recipe books (you can’t really call them “cookbooks” since nothing is cooked, right?). In a matter of seconds, you can create a cold soup using nothing but ingredients from your vegetable drawer and maybe a few fresh herbs from the garden. Here’s one of the quickest, a soup bursting with robust flavors.
Creamy Bell Pepper Soup
2 medium-sized red or yellow bell peppers, stems removed, chopped (see note)
2 medium cucumbers, chopped
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
1/2 cup cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
2 medium cloves garlic
3 cups filtered water
[amazon-product]157826278X[/amazon-product]Combine pepper, cucumber, red onion, olive oil, salt, caraway, garlic and water in a high-speed blender or food processor and blend until creamy and smooth.
Note: The vegetables do not have to be finely chopped, just small enough to work in the blender. I also use green bell pepper and I like to add a touch of seeded jalapeño or serrano. The color of the soup will change, but the flavor will be similar.
Makes 8 cups.
Adapted from “The Complete Book of Raw Food,” edited by Lori Baird
If you want to sample a few more cool and rejuvenating raw food recipes without buying a book, then check out the following websites: