When there’s no kitchen, go for no-cook summer dishes

Originally Published July 18, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated July 17, 2013 at 2:38 p.m.
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Wouldn’t you know it? Upon returning from a dreamy Alaskan cruise, my husband and I were met by my daughter, whose first words were, “Now don’t freak out, but there has been a flood in your kitchen.”

I didn’t freak out — until we came face to face with my beautiful redone kitchen that I had painstakingly designed down to the intricate backsplash.

At first glance, I just saw fans everywhere. Only after a few seconds did I discover that the cabinets had been ripped out, as well as my beautiful walnut wood floor. I took a deep breath and thought, “Well this could be a fun experiment in cooking ‘camper style’ while they renovate the kitchen.” So a month into insurance adjusters and contractor bids, I am making the best of it.

Since it’s summer and really hot, I took “the glass is half full” attitude and decided that I would come up with clever ways to make it through construction with only a little sink, blender and microwave.

I think you’ll appreciate this cool avocado soup and the smoked salmon pinwheels, along with some other simple ideas that you can enjoy with or without a working kitchen.

Let’s face it; it’s hot and humid out there, so turn off the oven and grill, and try a few of these ideas when the very idea of cooking is just too much for you.

Chilled Cucumber Avocado Soup With Tomato Salsa (See below)

Prosciutto and sliced melon:

• Wrap prosciutto slices around ripe melon slices.

• Scoop melon balls and wrap prosciutto around them; skewer the melon with fresh small mozzarella balls and serve on a platter.

• Make a salad of assorted melon slices, torn pieces of prosciutto and sliced avocados; squeeze some fresh lemon juice and a sprinkling of herbs and black pepper.

Store-bought Gravlax or smoked salmon with mustard sauce, assorted pumpernickel or favorite rolls:

• Serve the salmon pieces on cucumber rounds.

• Make Pinwheel Sandwiches (see below).

Sliced summer tomatoes with basil leaves, olive oil and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar:

• Intersperse sliced mozzarella or burrata between the tomato slices, and drizzle with pesto vinaigrette (combine pesto with favorite vinaigrette).

• Make a relish of diced watermelon and feta cheese, and scatter on top of the sliced tomatoes.

Rotisserie chicken:

• Serve chilled cut-up chicken with assorted mustards.

• Chop up the chicken and add toasted walnuts or almonds, small grapes and curried mayonnaise or yogurt dressing

• Use chopped or shredded chicken in a crisp Romaine salad with slices of jicama, raw corn kernels, shaved Parmesan cheese and sweet cherry tomatoes, with a herb vinaigrette.

•Combine finely chopped chicken, some celery and chives; add mayonnaise, lemon juice and celery seed.

Sweet endings:

• A platter of goat cheese, creamy Gorgonzola and sharp cheddar, nut and fruit crackers, and a drizzle of honey;

• A basket of nectarines, plums, cherries or apricots, or an assortment;

• Sliced strawberries with balsamic vinegar and cracked black pepper;

• Sliced figs with creme fraiche;

• Peeled, sliced peaches with amaretti cookies;

• Blueberries and diced nectarines with a sauce of mixed yogurt and sour cream, and dusted with brown sugar; or

• Assorted bakery cookies.

Cucumber Avocado Soup With Tomato Salsa

Serves 4


1 large ripe avocado, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces.

1 large European cucumber, unpeeled and cut into 2-inch pieces

1 1/2 cups chicken stock

1/4 cup finely sliced green onions

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup sour cream

3 tablespoons favorite fresh tomato or tomatillo salsa

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons favorite fresh tomato or tomatillo salsa, garnish


In a food processor, combine the avocado and cucumber, and process until smooth. Add the chicken stock, green onions, lemon juice, sour cream and salsa, and blend until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill for at least 2 hours.

Serve in small cups with a dollop of salsa on top.

Smoked Salmon, Herbed Cream Cheese and Cucumber Pinwheels

If you’re planning for a crowd, these pinwheels multiply easily.

Serves 4


1 10-inch flour tortilla

2 tablespoons favorite herbed cream cheese

2 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon

6-inch piece European cucumber


Spread the tortilla with the herbed cream cheese, making sure to cover to the edges. Cover evenly with the salmon slices.

Take a vegetable peeler and peel six 6-inch long cucumber peels. Arrange the thin cucumber peel over the salmon.

Tightly roll the tortilla up, cut the ends off to be even, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 15 minutes to let the ingredients set. Remove the plastic wrap and cut into 8 pinwheel slices. Place in a storage container and refrigerate until eating.

Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including Seriously Simple Holidays, and is also a James Beard award-winning radio-show host. Contact her at www.


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