Heat Wave Salad, take 2

It’s too hot to cook. It feels like it’s been too hot to cook for about 9 YEARS now. And yes, I know that next March, I will be complaining about how long and cold winter is, but right now that snow sure sounds wonderful. I’m on my third day of absolutely NO cooking and I’m feelin’ strong!

This afternoon I went strolling through the archives here at My Sister’s Kitchen looking for no-cook recipes for dinner and found one of Laura’s favorites: Laura’s Heat Wave Salad. And that’s where I started. Of course, that’s not what I ended up with. Here’s what Barb’s Heat Wave Salad looks like:

Like Laura’s recipe, I started with two cups of couscous. The beautiful thing about couscous is that it can be prepared without actually cooking. I combined two cups of couscous with two cups of hot tap water in a covered container. About an hour later, I stuck the container in the fridge to cool it down completely.

About 20 minutes before dinner, I raided the fridge for the following:

  • 1 pound of grilled chicken tenders, cubed
  • 1 grilled red bell pepper
  • 1/2 grilled red onion
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2  grilled summer squash, chopped
  • 1 c. leftover black bean salad
  • 1/3 c. chopped fresh basil
  • 2 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

And from the pantry, I grabbed:

  • 1 can water chestnuts
  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 t. coarsely ground black pepper
  • salt to taste

I mixed everything together, tasted, salted, tasted again, until it tasted just perfect. And it was still COLD!

I served this dish with a couple of sourdough baguettes and my family loved it! Better yet, I used up leftovers. Better than that, I didn’t turn on a single heat-producing appliance in my kitchen all day! (Well, okay, I will confess to turning on the coffee pot early this morning.)

Now the key to this Heat Wave Salad is to use what you have. I grilled extra chicken and squash last night in order to have leftovers. Everything else just happened to be in my fridge. Any veggies will work, cooked or uncooked. Brown rice or quinoa will work in place of couscous. The vinegar doesn’t have to be balsamic…it can be whatever vinegar. I used some leftover black bean salad, but a can of black beans would have worked  as well.

As Laura noted in her original recipe, it’s important to let the couscous cool completely or it will absorb the oil of the dressing and you’ll end up needing to add more.

So what are YOU doing to avoid cooking during these hot spells?

Barb

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