During the dog days of summer the last thing we want to do is prepare food in a hot kitchen over a hot stove. We seek fare that requires little or no cooking and that can be prepared early in the day, cooled, and then served chilled directly from the refrigerator.  Watermelon gazpacho comes together quickly in a blender and is the perfect antidote for a sultry summer’s eve.  Curried coconut chicken salad has an ambrosial blend of flavors and is light and refreshing served on lettuce spears.  Stay cool and enjoy!

Ingredients for Watermelon Gazpacho

  • 2 plum tomatoes, skinned, seeded and coarsely chopped*
  • 4 cups seedless watermelon, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons shallots, minced
  • 2 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • ½ cup seedless watermelon, cut into ¼” dice (optional garnish)
  • ¼ cup cucumber, cut into 1/4 “ dice (optional garnish)
  • 2 tablespoons shallots, minced (optional garnish)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint or parsley, minced (optional garnish)

Place the tomatoes and 4 cups of watermelon in a blender and puree.

Add medium cucumber and 4 tablespoons shallots and puree all ingredients.

While the blender is running and through the opening on the blender cover, add the vinegar and drizzle in the olive oil.

Season with the cayenne pepper and salt and freshly ground pepper to taste and blend all ingredients together.

Refrigerate for several hours or overnight and serve cold.

If desired, garnish soup with diced watermelon and cucumber, and minced shallots and mint.

Serves 4 to 6.

Notes

* To skin tomatoes, cut a shallow “x” on the tomato bottom with a sharp knife and drop into boiling water for 20 seconds.  Remove the tomatoes from the water—the skin will peel off easily.  To seed the tomato: cut the tomato in half from side to side (so that the knife is parallel to the cutting board) and remove seeds with a small spoon.  It is ok not to skin the tomato if you prefer not to use your stove top on a dog day in August.

Ingredients for Curried Coconut Chicken Salad

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons mango chutney
  • 1 tablespoons curry powder
  • juice of one lemon
  • 4 cups cubed cooked chicken*
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice**
  • 1 golden delicious apple, peeled and cubed
  • 1/4 cup scallions, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup celery, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup cashews, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup flaked coconut
  • hearts of romaine spears
  • radicchio spears
  • 1 tablespoon chives, minced

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the mayonnaise, mango chutney, curry powder and lemon juice and whisk until smooth.

In a separate large mixing bowl, combine the chicken, rice, apple, and 3 tablespoons each of the scallions, celery, cashews and coconut (reserving 1 tablespoon of each for the garnish).

With a large spatula, fold the mayonnaise chutney mixture into the chicken mixture and combine well all ingredients.

Refrigerate the chicken salad for several hours or overnight.

Serve on romaine and radicchio spears and garnish with scallions, cashews, coconut and chives.

Serves 6 to 8.

Notes

* I buy a precooked rotisserie chicken and use both the white and dark meat.

** To avoid cooking the rice, you can buy precooked rice from a Chinese food takeout.