Summer Dinner Ideas For When It's Too Hot To Waste Time In The Kitchen

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31/07/2017 16:05 BST | Updated 06/10/2017 09:04 BST

Balmy evenings and ray-lit days are great. But when the heat gets a bit much, any hope of time at the stove is rightfully forgotten. 

From the new way with salad you’ve never tried to restaurant-inspired ‘everything on the table’ platters, here’s how to wing it – when the thought of the oven is the last thing you fancy. 

Get fishy with it 

A far cry from the complicated cooking techniques some might think of, the easy way is to take smoked salmon, mackerel, trout or herring, and serve either lightly grilled or pleasantly chilled.

Simply layer the fish on a plate with some focaccia, rye bread or baguette, and add your pick of crème fraîche, mustard, sliced lemon, red onion, pickled gherkins, chopped tomatoes and cucumber, and sprinkle with dill or capers if you’re feeling fancy.

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Super quick meatballs

Everyone loves a meatball; think the best bit of Ikea (and no, we don’t mean the bunkbeds). Easy to throw together and keep in a Tupperware for those evenings when you really don’t feel like cooking, these tasty morsels are simply a case of mixing ground beef and pork with egg, ginger, all spice, nutmeg, salt and brown sugar.

Roll into small balls and fry in butter over a medium heat until golden. For a real treat, the secret’s in the sauce, which you can make in the same pan as the meatballs. Just whisk in sour cream with the meatball fat on a simmering heat, and season to taste. Serious flavour, way less washing-up.

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Get it all out 

Yes, it’s the most Nordic word you’ve ever seen. But smørgåsbord simply means making a feast of bits to layer up and share – nothing scary. Cheeses, pickles, herring, gin-infused cucumber slices: stick it on a board and get involved. 

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Please don’t forget pudding 

For cold desserts with nearly no effort, look no further than hot countries for inspiration. Zabaglione is a classic from Italy that will satisfy any sweet tooth. Simply whisk egg yolks with vanilla seeds and caster sugar over a pan of just-simmering water until tripled in size.

Slowly add Marsala and remove from the heat. There’s no cooking required, and you can simply top with fresh strawberries, lemon zest or dark chocolate and eat with Amaretti biscuits. 

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And remember bevs 

If you’re so hot you’d rather avoid food altogether and go straight for the thirst-quenching liquid, Scandi tastes have got your (hot, sweaty) back. Think iced elderflower tonic water mixed with wild fruit such as lingonberry - or, to make it easier, blueberries – plus super-fresh mint leaves for extra freshness (and you can always add gin for extra chill).

For something different, try the super-popular birch water, from the uber-cool, off-white birch tree. With those in the know calling it the new coconut water, it’s found in cartons these days, and couldn’t be easier to pour over ice, sprigs of rosemary, and a touch of lemon or lime. Also good with gin or vodka, if you really do need to cool down.    

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