Turn off the heat

It’s time to put away the oven mittens and the one-pot casserole recipes and jump into the zing of refreshing flavors to cool you down.

cucumber soup 521 (photo credit: MCT)
cucumber soup 521
(photo credit: MCT)
As you head into the steaming summer chock full of barbecues, outdoor parties and trips, you’ll soon realize that nothing quenches summer taste buds and makes you say “Aaaaah!” like a refreshing cold soup, a cool light salad or a freezing granita.
There is a variety of foods that will naturally cool your body down. A moderate amount of spicy flavors can actually help make you cooler. Spices like fresh ginger, cayenne or black pepper will disperse the heat on the body's surface ultimately cooling it.
If a big, leafy, green salad is all you can manage to eat on a sluggish summer day, that's just fine. Greens are nature's blood thinners, and they can help you release body heat and cool down.
Here are some refreshing recipes to help you get through the summer heat.
Makes 4 servings
✔ 4 cucumbers, peeled and grated ✔ 1 Tbsp. lemon juice ✔ 1 handful fresh mint leaves, chopped ✔ 1 handful fresh dill, chopped ✔ 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped ✔ 475 ml. plain yogurt ✔ 1 Tbsp. olive oil ✔ Finely chopped cucumber for garnishing Combine all ingredients except for the garnish in a large bowl. Stir to combine.
Blend the mixture in a food processor or blender until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Top with a tablespoon of chopped cucumber or some mint leaves to garnish.
Makes 4 servings
✔ 1 red onion, finely sliced ✔ 600 gr. cooked chickpeas, drained ✔ 4 ripe tomatoes, chopped ✔ 1 cucumber, chopped ✔ 4 Tbsp. lemon juice ✔ 1 Tbsp. olive oil ✔ Handful of fresh herbs, chopped (your choice of mint, parsley, cilantro, etc ✔ Pinch of paprika ✔ Pinch of ground cumin ✔ Mixed salad greens
Mix all ingredients except for the salad greens in a large bowl. Set aside to allow all the flavors to work together. To serve, arrange the greens on each plate and top with the salad mixture or serve the salad mixture without greens.
Makes 4-6 servings
✔ 3 cups water ✔ 1 cup sugar ✔ Zest of 2 lemons ✔ Juice of 6 large lemons ✔ 1⁄2 cup basil, finely chopped
Boil the water with the sugar and zest and mix until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Add the lemon juice and basil and allow the mixture to cool for one to two hours. You may substitute fresh mint leaves for the basil.
Pour the mixture into a wide, shallow pan. The mixture should not be more than 1.5 cm deep to ensure that is freezes properly.
Cover the pan with aluminum foil or plastic wrap. It is important to cover the pan so the mixture does not pick up flavors from other items in the freezer.
Freeze the mixture for approximately 1.5 hours. When the mixture starts to freeze around the edges, scrape the ice with a fork to make slush. Repeat every half hour for about three more hours. It is recommended that you serve this in a pretty crystal goblet or wine glass.
If you are not ready to eat the granita, you can leave it in the freezer. About 20 minutes before you are ready to serve, take it out of the freezer to let it soften and scrape again to form ice crystals. Top with some chopped basil or a mint leaf.