What to Eat When It's Too Hot to Cook

Last Saturday, I decided to spend the afternoon at a museum exhibit, followed by some shopping. If you're thinking this all sounds pretty routine, you're not taking in to consideration that the temperatures in Rome are near 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, and attempting to do anything more than sit in front of your fan in your underwear is downright heroic.  

In the end, my afternoon was quite nice -- the museum and stores had air conditioning! -- but getting to the center, from the museum to the stores, and then back, was brutal. By the time I got home, I was hungry, but also still overheated from my brave excursion to the center. This wasn't the first time this has happened -- the truth is that in August in Rome, not only is it too hot to turn on the stove, it is almost too hot to even eat. Though I found myself making dishes like pesto and rice salad and sun-dried tomato and olive pasta in the beginning of the summer, they all require at least a little heat and effort, both of which are unappealing now that temperatures are at their peak (example: you mean I have to...boil the water for...12 minutes to cook the pasta?!) Soaring temperatures do not mean however that you can't eat well, so I thought I would share the dishes I've been making lately, which require more assembling and than cooking, and that fill you up without heating you up. Bonus: little to no cooking means they all take only a few minutes to throw together. 

8. Feeling ambitious: Couscous does require some effort/stove use (you need to boil water, mix in the couscous, and then take it off the heat!!) so only make this if you're feeling super ambitious. I usually mix in black olives or kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, and feta cheese. It all comes together in a few minutes and the leftovers are equally good the next day.

7. Feeling a little less ambitious: Panzanella is a dish from Tuscany that makes great use of both leftover bread and summer tomatoes, and requires no cooking at all. Just mix cubes of day old bread (you don't want it to be too fresh, otherwise it gets soggy) with chopped tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, red onion, and basil and dress it with red wine vinegar and olive oil. If you want some idea of the quantities, 8-10 cups of bread should serve 8 people or so. In the photo below I also added yellow bell peppers and used whole wheat bread. White beans or tuna might also be a good addition here, though not traditional
6. Temperatures high and ambitions low: Nectarines with Burrata, Prosciutto, and Arugula I've made this salad more times than I can count this summer. Again, the only effort requires is assembling a few ingredients and you're good to go. You can get the full recipe here, if you want to know more specific quantities. 

5. Energy and ambitions low and temperatures
still rising: Watermelon and Feta Salad is similar to the above salad -- I love the fruit and cheese combination, and the play on sweet and savory. 

4. Beginning to feel a little lazy: Insalata Caprese  takes advantage of great summer ingredients -- tomatoes and basil -- and just requires a little slicing and assembling. Be sure to use mozzarella di bufala if you can find it - it makes all the difference. Drizzle some olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the top to serve.

3. Feeling pretty lazy: Smoked salmon and avocado on toast, inspired by the open faced sandwiches I tried in Denmark. The ingredient combinations here are endless, so feel free to experiment with whatever you like. I usually mash up the avocado with salt, pepper, and a little olive oil. Toasting the bread is optional if you're feeling extra over heated and/or lazy.

2. Feeling completely and utterly lazy: Prosciutto e melone is a classic appetizer here in Italy that I have been eating as a meal because it requires literally no effort, unless you count slicing a few pieces of melon and taking prosciutto out of the fridge effort (if this is the case, please see item 1. below). This is both filling and refreshing. Pair it with some bread if you want to round out the meal.

1. And if all else fails, this is also a completely 
acceptable meal:


  1. Hi there, I recently discovered your blog. This post has some great ideas for when it's too hot to cook. This summer here in Italy, I've occasionally found myself resorting to a gelato sandwich as a meal too! Anyway, looking forward to seeing more of your posts. :-)

  2. Ciao! Thanks for stopping by, glad you like the post! I'll probably be adding to it as the heat here continues and I come up with more ideas, so check back soon or follow us on facebook! From your name I assume you're living in Turin -- I have relatives there and love it!! I hope it's been at least a little cooler up North? :)

  3. Glad to hear you like my adopted city (I'm originally from Sydney, Australia) so much. I'm quite fond of Rome myself, though I imagine the heat can be unrelenting there in summer. Luckily for us here in Turin, there have been storms in the past couple of days and there's been a much needed drop in temperature. I've actually managed to do some stovetop cooking in the past few days which has been great. I'm sure you'll be able to do the same sometime soon. :-) Rosemarie

  4. Australia is my dream destination!!! I'd love to get there one day!!! You have a lovely blog yourself by the way!! Buon Ferragosto to you and your family! :)

  5. Thanks Francesca. Happy Ferragosto to you too!