Summers are hot in the Midwest; triple-digit temperatures with humidity so thick you can almost see the moisture in the air isn’t uncommon in July and August. When it gets this hot out, however, I don’t turn on the oven or stove. I look for easy healthy dinner recipes that are cool and refreshing.
I tend to get great ideas for easy healthy dinner recipes from nice delis and bistros. Salads with uncommon toppings and towering sandwiches with unexpected garnishes are fun to eat at restaurants, so why not make something similar at home, too?
That’s just what I did. Here’s my latest summer meal: a toasted hummus CLT sandwich, homemade creamy ranch dip with fresh veggies, and strawberry granita for dessert. Let’s start with the sweet treat, as it needs time to freeze before eating.
Homemade Strawberry Granita
If you’ve never eaten (or heard of) a granita, it’s similar to ice cream, but without the cream. This recipe produces a rich, creamy dessert that tastes much like a sorbet if eaten early in the freezing process, or a more firm texture when enjoying the leftovers. Here’s what you’ll need:
- 2 cups washed, sliced strawberries
- 1/2 cup sugar or preferred natural sweetener
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 tablespoonfresh lemon juice
Start by placing the warm water and sugar in the blender. Mix for 10 to 15 seconds, or until the sugar dissolves.
Add the strawberries and lemon juice. Blend until your mixture is thick and smooth.
Pour this bright-red treat into a small baking dish and place it in the freezer.
After 45 minutes, mix the partially frozen granita and return it to the freezer.
For another 45 minutes, mix the strawberry granita again, using a fork to chop and fluff the icy treat. If you like your granita similar to a sorbet, serve it up now! For a more firm dessert, leave it in the freezer for another hour, then scrape the top using a fork and place the fluffy, icy dessert into a bowl to enjoy.
Toasted Hummus CLT
When I don’t want to turn on the oven or stove, I usually make a sandwich or salad. One of my go-to vegetarian summer sammies is a CLT—cheese, lettuce, and tomato. For a little extra protein, I use hummus and sprinkle on a few seeds for a surprise crunch. Here’s what you’ll need:
- 2 slices gluten-free bread
- 2 tablespoons roasted red pepper hummus (Sabra is gluten-free)
- 2 slices of tomato
- 2 leaves of lettuce
- 1 tablespoons salted sunflower seeds
- 1 slice Colby-Jack cheese, or skip the cheese for a vegan treat!
If you’d like a crunchier sandwich, pop the bread into the toaster. While it’s still warm, layer on the cheese and toppings. Feel free to experiment with gourmet cheese flavors and various green toppings, such as alfalfa sprouts, baby spinach, or arugula.
Creamy Ranch Dip
Finally, pair the sandwich with a bunch of fresh chopped veggies and a cool ranch dip. To keep the calories low, I use tangy, plain Greek yogurt for part of the dip base. Here’s what you’ll need:
- 8 ounces plain Greek yogurt (Chobani is gluten-free, or you can look for vegan yogurt options)
- 8 ounces low-fat sour cream (Daisy is gluten-free, or you can look for vegan options)
- 1 packet gluten-free powdered ranch dressing mix
Mix these three ingredients in a bowl and chill it. The resulting dip will keep for up to a week, so you can enjoy it later as a salad dressing or sandwich spread.
What have you been cooking up on these warm summer nights? Tell me what’s on your dinner menu in the comments below.
Image source: Angela Tague
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