The other day, I was so excited that it was under 80 degrees for my morning walk with my dog – he's gotten short shrift as the days have gone from hot to hellish – that I didn't mind the light rain. Neither did he.
It started out as a drizzle, but within 15 minutes the drops got larger and fell faster, and just when I was thinking we should head back home, we just ... didn't. We kept walking, it kept raining, and we had a nice, long, refreshing, meditative, wet and, most importantly, cool morning.
Once I was back home, I knew that soon enough it would be sweltering again. My outside activity would be limited to quick trips out to the garden or around the block in the early morning and late evening. In between, I'd continue looking for lunch and dinner ideas that minimize stove-top time and eliminate oven time.
Salads are a big part of the summer strategy, obviously, as are gazpachos and other cold soups. But often I still want to do a little cooking, and I sometimes get a little bored with cold foods.
I found a good option in the new book by Ella Mills, the best-selling British author behind the Delicious Ella brand. The dish is basically a quick-cooking skillet of beans, broccoli, zucchini and cherry tomatoes, amped up with lots of garlic and bound in a cheeseless pesto sauce and a smidgen of yogurt.
The beans are canned limas, but you can use whatever you like. The zucchini is grated. But it's the broccoli technique that particularly appealed in the midst of summertime heat.
To make everything go faster in the skillet, you first blanch the broccoli, but not by dealing with a big pot of water first; that would defeat the purpose. Instead, you just cover the florets with boiling water from a tea kettle and let them sit for a couple of minutes. They're perfectly crisp-tender this way, and your kitchen stays so cool you'll be dreaming of rain.