March 2, 2024 | Rome, Italy

Hot plates

By |2018-03-21T19:06:16+01:00June 10th, 2015|"Suzanne's Taste"|
Salmorejo a la Cordoba (cold Cordoba tomato soup) is easy to make.

ccording to some, let them remain unmentioned to avoid political strife, global warming simply does not exist. Be that as it may, Rome is heating up, inspiring me to find cold plates for a hot climate — meals I can serve throughout the summer without muss or fuss to the one or the many.

The take-out world is expanding. In the U.S., it has a new moniker I detest in name and implication: Home Replacement Meals. Replacement of home is how I read it. But if all your food comes from take-out businesses, your taste buds stand to forget the flavors of fresh, home-prepared food. I call that a sad state of affairs.

Supplying your summer larder means finding creative ways to beat the heat. Here are a just few of my summer staples, starting with the ingredients you’ll need to make them. Just make sure the herbs are fresh, since dried ones diminish any dish except stew.

The ingredients

  • Canned tuna.

  • Capers.

  • Mayonnaise.

  • Anchovies.

  • Eggs.

  • Mint.

  • Cilantro.

  • Basil.

  • Tomatoes.

  • Cucumbers.

  • Sweet onions.

  • Sweet red or yellow peppers (no green bells).

  • Zucchine.

  • Avocados.

  • Yogurt, plain.

  • Toasted almonds.

  • Chicken broth, boxed or cubed.

  • Cayenne (okay, okay, it’s dry but not an herb).

  • Frozen chicken/turkey breasts.

  • Olive oil.

The dishes

Chicken or turkey tonnato

  1. In a shallow pan, heat well-seasoned chicken broth and poach 6 chicken or turkey breasts, flattened well with a mallet (let the butcher do it if you’re buying them fresh). Cook until tender and done, about 7-8 minutes, turning once. Remove from the pan and let cool.

  2. In a blender or food processor, whiz 1 cup of mayonnaise, a few basil leaves, 2 cans of tuna in olive oil, 3 tablespoons capers, the juice of half a lemon, 2 anchovy filets, and fresh pepper until very smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add a bit of the chicken broth to thin the sauce, but it should be substantial. Refrigerate.

  3. Arrange the chicken/turkey breasts on a plate and mask with the sauce, garnishing with fresh basil, chopped fine, or capers. Serve with hard-boiled egg slices and lemon.

Salmorejo a la Cordoba (cold Cordoba tomato soup)

  1. In the bowl of a food processor or blender, place 6 ripe tomatoes, 1 peeled cucumber, 1 sweet onion, 1/2 half a roasted and peeled red or yellow pepper, a handful of cilantro, leaves from 2 sprigs of mint, the juice of a large lemon, 2 small dry toasts (Melba-type), 1/2 cup toasted almonds, 2 tablespoons of yogurt, salt and pepper and whiz to a lovely consistency.

  2. Serve chilled with cilantro/mint or croutons as garnish.

Suzanne’s Surprise Soup

  1. Cut 4 zucchine and a sweet onion into large dice, cover with chicken broth and simmer for 20 minutes. Let cool.

  2. In the bowl of a food processor, put the zucchine and broth, the juice of a large lemon, 4 tablespoons of yogurt, and a large, ripe avocado and whiz to a lovely green. Add salt and pepper and serve cold with chopped fresh mint or basil. No one will guess the avocado, which makes the soup so special.

If you’re not cool after these meals, go somewhere and order a large mojito.

About the Author:

Suzanne Dunaway, a longtime major magazine writer and artist, is the author and illustrator of "Rome, At Home, The Spirit of La Cucina Romana in Your Own Kitchen" (Broadway Books) and "No Need To Knead, Handmade Italian Breads in 90 Minutes" (Hyperion). She taught cooking for 15 years privately and at cooking schools in Los Angeles, and now maintains a personal website and a blog. She divides her time between southern France and Italy.