- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 5, 2003

By late afternoon, when the kitchen gets so hot and steamy I can practically see the wallpaper curl, I’m not about to add more heat. Cooking dinner ranks pretty low on my list of priorities.

If someone were to appear at the door with a refreshing seafood salad and a glass of iced tea, I’d be very grateful.

Unfortunately, curbside salad service is slow in coming, and until it does, I’ve devised some warm weather alternatives.

Here are three foods I can’t be without for instant meals:

Cooked shrimp. More expensive and sometimes a tad too firm, ready-to-eat shrimp is still easier to face than a boiling pot of raw. I use cooked shrimp in salads, cold soups and as sandwich fillings.

Tomatoes. This fruit — so delicious and plentiful now — doesn’t need any heat. (I also recommend avocados, salad greens, carrots and zucchini as effortless vegetables for warm-weather meals.) Chopped tomatoes and a little crushed red pepper make a fast version of salsa. Sliced tomatoes perk up sandwiches. And what could be a faster salad than tomato wedges sprinkled with basil and pepper?

Beans. These are the easiest and most healthful starch available. Forget about cooking pasta or rice for salad. Just open a can of beans and puree with some seasonings for a dip, or dress with oil and vinegar for a hearty vegetarian dish.

Any of these ingredients can stand alone, but put them together, and I have a beautiful no-cook salad entree.

All I need is home-delivery iced tea.

Shrimp and black bean salad

6 ounces peeled and cooked shrimp, diced

½ cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed

1 plum tomato, cored and diced

1 small ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and diced

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

Combine shrimp, black beans, tomato and avocado in a serving bowl.

Stir cumin, salt, pepper, lemon juice and olive oil together in a cup.

Stir into shrimp mixture. Toss gently to mix.

Makes 2 servings.

Raspberry sundae

2 scoops vanilla ice cream or vanilla frozen yogurt

2 cups raspberries

1 to 2 tablespoons sugar

½ cup crushed shortbread cookies

¼ cup sliced almonds

Place ice cream in 2 bowls. Gently mix raspberries with sugar and sprinkle over ice cream. Sprinkle on the shortbread cookies and sliced almonds. Makes 2 servings.

TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES INTERNATIONAL

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