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From freezer tricks to winning salads: your ultimate guide to heatwave dining

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 21/06/2022 Eleanor Steafel
dinner ideas for hot weather food in heatwave © Provided by The Telegraph dinner ideas for hot weather food in heatwave

When the temperatures breach 30C in Britain, only a fool would turn the oven on. It can be hard to fathom what to cook when it’s this hot, even if you know cooler days are to come. Do you sip on a bowl of chilled gazpacho, or invite the neighbours for a barbecue, only to realise the gas canister is low and there are no sausages in the freezer? So what, pray, are we all to do with ourselves on this unreasonably hot Friday? Here’s how to cope and what to cook.

Dinner salads

Summer days breed indecisive appetites. I can do nothing more than pick at sticks of celery and mini Magnums all day, only to feel ravenous at night when the heat starts to melt away. It’s times like these that I love a dinner salad. That said, I need to add some sort of hot carb – potatoes or bread – or I won’t feel satisfied. Why not make something simple like this tonno e fagioli, or a Greek salad topped with a slab of feta, perhaps marinated in dried oregano and lemon zest. Griddle or toast thick slices of bread, rub with a garlic clove and drizzle with olive oil – perfect for hungrily mopping up dressing.

The art of bits

Alternatively, try a picnic tea, as upmarket or low-fi as you like, ideally assembled from what you already have in the fridge and cupboard, Cheese, salami, anchovies, pickles, a few tomatoes, a tub of hummus or olives. Assemble on a big board and buy a loaf of good bread – or, if you can face it, do some simple flatbreads on the barbecue. Mix equal amounts of self raising flour and natural yoghurt (about 300g of each for roughly 10 breads) with ⅔ of a teaspoon of baking powder. Knead together, divide into lumps the size of a tennis ball, roll out into discs about half an inch thick and griddle on a hot pan. Sprinkle with olive oil and salt. 

Cold soups

gazpacho © Provided by The Telegraph gazpacho

Cold soups are “like internal air conditioning: nothing better when it’s stinkingly hot,” says Telegraph food columnist Xanthe Clay. “No-cook gazpacho is the obvious, but take inspiration from Asian cold noodle broths like Korean Mul Naengmyeon, too, using a tinned consommé as the base for a quick fix. Don’t hold back on the chilli either, as the capsaicin reaction triggers sweat – and cools you down.” 


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Simple barbecues

Repeat after me: everyone is in it for the condiments. You don’t need to create a gourmet barbecue with five different side dishes and a lamb shoulder you’ve been lovingly marinating. You need a great potato salad (mix spring onions, chillies, lemon zest and juice, white wine vinegar, sour cream, mayonnaise, coriander and flaky salt and toss just-cooked new potatoes in it), a few hot dogs or burgers, and some great bottles of mustard, ketchup, hot sauce and chutneys. For the record, I love marmalade in a hot dog. 

Put your freezer to work

Speaking of marmalade (making something of a comeback since the Jubilee) why not freeze some in ice cube trays to add to a pitcher of citrusy cocktail. Try equal parts gin and a bergamot liqueur called Italicus (or another herbal spirit like Campari) over marmalade ice cubes, topped up with a splash of orange juice, lemon juice and tonic water for a long, refreshing drink. Bags of pineapple or watermelon are also worth freezing (with a squeeze of lime and a pinch of salt) to be blitzed for cocktails. Try a frozen watermelon margarita with tequila and a pinch of cayenne, or perhaps a retro piña colada.

What is your favourite dish to make during a heatwave? Tell us in the comment section below

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