If You Can’t Stand the Heat, Get Out of the Kitchen…

It’s been a hot week over here at DBA HQ. And when I say “hot” I mean, it’s been so hot that when I left my wet garden crocs outside to dry, they shrunk.

Yes, it’s so hot, my rubbery shoes actually shrunk.

I’m actually surprised that they didn’t just melt.

Living in the Southeast, we are no strangers to hot summers. But we are currently in a heat wave of sorts and temperatures have been in the high 90s-low 100s for the past few days. When it’s this hot, cooking is something that even I try to get out of doing. Mainly because our house gets hotter than hell because of our appropriately named ‘sunroom’. When we bought this house, the sunroom was one of the features I fell in love with. The previous owners had the room set up with a small loveseat, coffee table, the odd plant or two and a big, beautiful the gas fireplace,  surrounded by an oak enclosure, resplendent with pictures and knick-knacks. Being a highly visual gal, I immediately saw myself relaxing with a book and a glass of wine in that sunroom. Maybe a little smooth jazz playing.  Ah, yeah, baby.. Unfortunately, what the previous owners declined to disclose was that there are approximately 5.37 days per year that the sunroom temperature is comfortable enough for human habitation.  You see, there is no venting system in the room, which means, no temperature regulation. In the winter, it’s a meat locker. Yeah, there’s that big-ass fireplace that takes up half a wall’s worth of space. However, the damn thing broke down after one season and now it’s a big honkin’ eyesore that’s taking up half a wall in a room that I get to use 5.37 days a year.  In the summer, that little room turns into a disco inferno, minus the disco.  The sunroom connects to the kitchen via an opening that was a window when the sunroom was an outdoor porch,  before our time many moons ago. And all the heat that collects in that 300-odd square foot space billows out in toasty waves, right into our kitchen.  Our HVAC unit, God bless it, tries to keep up, but alas, it’s fighting a losing battle. By the time the 2pm hour arrives, the temperature in the house hits the mid to high 70s and stays that way until around 9 or 10 pm. Fun stuff. Because the kitchen bears the brunt of the burn, cooking anything that requires more than 6 minutes heats the entire house to sauna-like proportions. So I’ve been on a mission to create some tasty dishes with minimal cooking time.

Rewind to this morning. I slept in till 6am and then got up to water the gardens. Yes, I consider 6am sleeping in. I have an almost 6 month old in the middle of a growth spurt. Anything past 4:30am is sleeping in to me. But I digress…

I was outside watering the gardens when I took notice of the arugula plant. I say ‘plant’ but I really mean shrub. I planted the little guy last year and it grew nicely. This  year, it’s grown to epic proportions and it currently taking up a nice 4X4 foot chunk of the ‘salad garden”.

I stood there, watering away, and thinking: “Hmmm. What else can I do with all this arugula besides putting it in salads?” And as if by divine intervention, pesto came into my mind. Originally, I intended to use walnuts but I happened upon pistachios and figured, “what the hell?” The result is a light, fresh sauce with a creamy texture and a pop of fresh lemony goodness. This recipe makes about 5-6 cups of pesto, which can be frozen for future use. Of course it’s great on angel hair pasta (which is how we ate it this evening), but try it spread on crusty bread on top on goat cheese for a kick-ass appetizer. Tomorrow, I’m making a cold salad with penne pasta, grape tomatoes and grilled salmon. The possibilities are endless and virtually oven/stove free!

Arugula Pesto

Here’s what you need:

6 lightly packed cups of arugula, chopped (roughly a pound)

1 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

6 oz roasted, salted pistachios (shelled, of course)

1/4 tsp pepper (I prefer white)

2 large cloves of garlic

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice plus the grated rind of one lemon

salt to taste (I used about  a 1/2 teaspoon)

3/4 cup grated Parmesean cheese

You’ll also need:

A food processor or blender

And here’s what you do:

Combine all of the ingredients except the oil and blend on puree. Drizzle in the oil and puree till smooth. That’s it.


Tough stuff, huh?

Well, here’s hoping that you guys are staying cool. Be sure to drink a lot of water and stay hydrated! And for goodness sakes, keep that oven OFF!

Till next time…

Have Fun…and Be Fearless!








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