The forecast for this weekend looks downright hellish. Temperatures are likely to top 100 degrees in many places throughout Oregon. And it’s only June!
One of the best strategies for keeping cool begins in the kitchen with refreshing and light dishes that are meant to be enjoyed cold. We’re not just talking about bowls of leafy greens. We’re talking bowls of chilled soups, pasta salads, and other chilled foods like ice cream that can lower your body temperature while soothing your overheated soul.
Note: Some of these salads require cooked grains or pasta. Make them in the morning before the day heats up, then let the flavors meld as the dishes chill in the refrigerator.
Here are 17 of our favorite salads, chilled soups, and frozen desserts to help you ride out this heatwave and any others that Oregon’s summer throws at us this year. They’re a delicious way to keep your cool.
Summer Pasta Salad
Pasta salad takes a sojourn to Greece, thanks to the recipe for Summer Pasta Salad from British food writer and broadcaster Amanda Grant. The quick dressing combines fresh lemon juice and chopped mint with extra-virgin olive oil, creating a tangy coating for rotini pasta. To the mix, she adds cucumber, tomatoes and kalamata olives, underscoring the Aegean influence.
Recipe: Summer Pasta Salad.
Sure, Oregon’s tomato season doesn’t hit its peak until August, but you’ll find high-quality tomatoes at most grocery stores right now. We’ll take any excuse to make this gazpacho recipe from California chef Ann Gentry: It’s our favorite variation of the traditional Spanish chilled soup, and is perfect for hot days. Start with hothouse vine tomatoes, which have a lot of flavor. The additions of sweet corn kernels and garnishes of toasted pine nuts and sliced avocado make it filling and refreshing at the same time. The result is a perfect gazpacho that is brisk on the palate the day it’s made, and a little mellower on the second.
Recipe: California Gazpacho.
Two takes on tangy tabbouleh
In this country, a lot of people make tabbouleh with mostly bulgur wheat, and parsley is a secondary ingredient. But in the classic Middle Eastern salad, parsley is the star. This recipe from Jackie Varriano gets it right: There’s 1-1/2 cups of chopped parsley, and just 1/4 cup of bulgur.
The second variation comes from Portland food blogger and cookbook author Eva Kosmas Flores and her terrific cookbook, “Adventures in Chicken.” She uses roasted chicken to give the salad additional protein and flavor. Because you don’t want to heat up the house, this is a perfect way to use rotisserie chickens from your favorite store.
Recipe: Roast Chicken Tabbouleh.
Sliced tomato salad
One of the best ways to enjoy tomatoes is in a simple salad, like this one from tomato queen Barbara Damrosch. Just arrange them on a platter with peppery arugula, then drizzle with a dressing that combines balsamic vinegar with maple syrup, which balances out the acidity of the tomato.
Recipe: Tomato Salad With Balsamic Vinegar.
The combination of Greek yogurt and mayonnaise makes the dressing for this pasta salad from Alison Ladman light yet rich-tasting.
Recipe: Sun-dried Tomato Macaroni Salad.
Tahini Chicken Salad
Throwing together this delicious chicken salad from contributor Laura B. Russell couldn’t be easier, thanks to store-bought rotisserie chicken. Instead of the usual mayonnaise-heavy version, try this healthier Middle Eastern-inspired take based on tahini, lemon and yogurt.
Recipe: Tahini Chicken Salad.
Pesto potato salad
Potato salad is a perfect summertime side dish, and a good one to turn to when warm weather strikes, since it’s filling. Instead of one made with heaps of mayonnaise and mustard, opt for this Italian-themed version. Make the salad early in the day while your kitchen is still cool, then let it chill until it’s mealtime. Chopped sun-dried tomatoes give the salad a nice pop of color. If you’re put off by the high cost of pine nuts, the dressing can be made with blanched slivered almonds with similar results.
Black bean salad
This vibrant salad from chef Jennifer Segal is hearty enough to be served as an entree. Best of all: It can be pulled together in about 20 minutes, but it needs at least a couple of hours in the refrigerator for flavors to meld.
A few years back, we invited Los Angeles chef Brian L. Patton to share his delicious version of gazpacho, which gets plenty of kick from jalapeño and garlic. The combination of sweet and heat makes it perfect warm-weather fare.
Recipe: Mango Gazpacho.
Two Oregon classic ingredients in one salad
Chef Kenny Giambalvo shared this dynamite spring pairing with us when he was still cooking at McMenamins’ Black Rabbit Restaurant. The recipe leaves you with extra strawberry balsamic vinaigrette, which is terrific on any mixed greens and also makes a great marinade for grilled fish.
Bold Mediterranean flavors
The ridges of curly fusilli are perfect for this vibrant pasta salad because they catch and really hold the dressing, which is a combination of vegan mayonnaise and fresh lemon juice.
Recipe: Mediterranean Pasta Salad.
This gazpacho recipe originally came from Seattle’s Andaluca restaurant, where each bowl is topped with lumps of crab meat. Any grilled seafood, such as shrimp or calamari, could be substituted. Good fish counters should have pre-cooked shrimp, so you can avoid firing up the grill altogether.
Recipe: Green Gazpacho With Crab.
The beauty of this salad is the textural contrast between the vegetables and the crunchy ramen noodles. You can make the salad using whatever ingredients look good at the farmers’ market. Think about subbing spring peas for the edamame, or blanched and chopped asparagus for the broccoli slaw mix.
Recipe: Crunchy Ramen Noodle Salad.
Wheat berries and beans
This healthy salad makes a great light lunch, but also could be a side dish with other Greek or Moroccan fare. You’ll find wheat berries in the bulk food section of most grocery stores, but if you can’t find them, you can substitute other whole grains, like farro, spelt or pearl barley.
Recipe: Mediterranean Wheat Berry Salad.
Ice cream with chocolate sauce
You’ll never miss the dairy or eggs with this incredible vegan ice cream. Want to take it even further? Serve it with the intensely good
Mint-chip ice cream
This refreshing vegan ice cream is unbelievably easy, getting its richness from a combination of herb-steeped almond milk blended with an avocado. All you need to do is pour the blended concoction into an ice cream maker and let the magic happen.
Recipe: Vegan Basil-Mint Chip Ice Cream.
— Grant Butler