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The month of July makes me question my love of cooking. Because as much as I gawk and guffaw over the produce at the market (I mean, have you seen it?), I don't want to cook it, per se. Never is the bounty so great; never is my desire so meek.
Feed me pasta with slow-cooked tomatoes and garlic confit for dinner, and I'll accept it with gratitude. (Plum galette for dessert, please.) But ask me to make it myself, and I'll choose generously salted tomatoes followed by soft chocolate ice cream instead.
Where is my passion, you wonder? Camped out in the park, hiding in the air-conditioned movie theater or, frankly, prostrate on the bed, nap-drooling.
But still, the need to cook persists. It's funny that way. There are work lunches to pack, parties to attend, and weeknight dinners when a bowl of berries won't cut it. And then there are lots of people (I hear they exist, though I am not one of them) who cook meals in advance of traveling, in case there are no suitable options at airports and rest-stops. These are the most prepared people!
But we can be like them, too. This salty-crunchy-fresh chickpea salad, which comes together in 10 minutes flat, will make you feel like you're cooking with no actual cooking at all. Just throw herbs, chile, garlic, lime juice, and vinegar into the food processor, then stream in olive oil until you have a fragrant, bright-green sauce. Toss it with chickpeas (you could swap out half for a more tender bean, like cannellini), halved cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, and chopped toasted almonds.
Let the ingredients marinate in the chimichurri as long as you can stand, then serve—perhaps on a toasted bread swiped with Greek yogurt and olive oil, or over that bowl of heirloom tomatoes you were planning to eat for dinner?
The salad's as flexible as you feel when submerged in the pool. If you don't have mint or cilantro (or if you only have one), compensate with other herbs. Chimichurri typically includes fresh oregano; you could add a couple tablespoons of just-torn leaves, or a teaspoon or two of the dried herb, or forgo it entirely. Swap out the red wine vinegar for white wine or rice wine vinegar. Maybe this isn't chimichurri anymore, but heck, you've made green sauce.
Mix in cooked grains, sliced snap peas, cucumber chunks, broiled shrimp, roasted fish. In the winter (seriously, can you even remember winter?), you might add boiled broccoli rabe, roasted squash or potatoes, and tears of rotisserie chicken.
Hey, you've cooked! And you didn't even have to crank up the A/C.
For the chimichurri:
- 1 cup packed flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 cup packed mint
- 1/2 cup packed cilantro
- 1 serrano or other hot green chile
- pinches red pepper flakes, optional
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 tablespoon sherry or white wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 1/4 cup olive oil
For the salad:
- Two 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/4 pound feta cheese, crumbled or cubed
- 1/4 cup chopped toasted almonds
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Toasted or grilled bread and Greek yogurt, for serving (optional)
What's your go-to no-cook summer meal? Tell us in the comments below.