Cool it Down at Dinner

When it’s too hot to cook, stop by the store and pick up a rotisserie chicken, then head back to your kitchen for some flavorful sides.

Let’s face it, it is hot out there. Ruling over the stove or the grill or the oven isn’t going to cut it these days. Yet dinner must get on the table.  On these steamiest of summer days, I find the rotisserie chicken comes in quite handy. The and stores have their birds on sale for $4.99 this week. is offering Latin flavor chickens for $5.99. Over at on High Ridge you can grab one for $7.99 each.

Not in the mood for a rotisserie? has an eight-piece fried chicken deal for $6.99.

For the rest of the meal, keep it simple. A pasta salad means minimal heat (10 minutes max to boil pasta) and can be eaten at room temperature. Add as many vegetable varieties as you like, and you’ve got your grains and veggies all in one bowl.

Couscous salad gives me the opportunity to play around with herbs. I like how the assortment of different herbs gives the blandness of the couscous a huge boost of flavors. It barely cooks, so the heat factor is close to nothing.

Looking for something a little sweeter? Try adding a mango to a tomato and cucumber salad. A splash of soy sauce and lime juice gives this summer salad a nice kick.


Vegetable and Pasta Salad

1/2 pound penne rigate or rigatoni
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1 small carrot, diced
5 large grape tomatoes, cut into quarters
1 small Kirby cucumber, washed and diced
5 or 6 large basil leaves, sliced into ribbons
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 T balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper

Boil pasta as per the package instructions. Meanwhile, cut up your vegetables and place in a bowl. Whisk the vinegar, oil and salt and pepper. Drain the pasta, add to the vegetables and stir. Pour the dressing overall, stir, and let sit at room temperature. Or you can cool it in the fridge and serve it later.  Just before serving, toss in the basil.


Herbed Couscous Salad

1 cup whole wheat couscous
1/4 – 1/2 cup minced herbs, such as thyme, cilantro, dill, sage, basil and chives
3 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T tarragon vinegar (or white wine vinegar if using fresh tarragon leaves in your herb mixture)
Salt and pepper

Cook couscous according to package instructions. Meanwhile, chop up all the herbs. Whisk the oil and vinegars. After the couscous is done, fluff it up with a fork and place in a bowl. Mix in all the herbs and pour dressing over all. Season with salt and pepper.


Mango, Cucumber and Tomato Salad

1 large mango, peeled and diced
1 kirby or Boston pickler cucumber, peeled and diced
1 small tomato, diced
1/4 cup red bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup basil, roughly chopped
3 T cilantro, roughly chopped
1 T rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp soy sauce
1 T olive oil
Juice from a lime

Toss the first 6 ingredients in a bowl. Then whisk the vinegar, soy sauce and olive oil. Pour most of the dressing over the mango mixture and toss well, and add as much lime juice as you like. Season with salt and pepper.


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