9 Hot Weather Dishes, Drinks, and Desserts

Cooking in the heat is a pain. Nobody wants to turn on the oven in 90-plus degree sun. Luckily, hot weather recipes can actually be enjoyable. Summer has its own palate and its own techniques to make cooking bearable. It’s the season for salads and picnics and spritzes and white wines. There’s a romantic element to it, though it’s hard to feel that when you’re sweating through a t-shirt and trying to turn on your air conditioner. And unless you’re lucky enough to be a teacher, the summer vacation of your childhood is probably replaced with office hours. But your menu is one way to make summer feel like the beautiful, decadent season seen at the movies, so we’ve got some suggestions.

Dishes

a grilled cheese in the middle of a marble charcuterie board with red and purple olives and a variety of cured meats

Ultimate Grilled Cheese and Charcuterie Board

This is a great picnic staple and an easy hot weather recipe. “Charcuterie” can feel intimidating, but you know what, you can call it a cheese plate if you really want to. This recipe adds a “grown-up grilled cheese” made out of a Tomme de Savoie for richness and Abondance for elasticity, then a generous slather of Isigny Mere French churned butter. A “quiet luxury” strategy for a meal in the park under the stars.

A plate with a salad on it has plenty of kale and citrus fruits like orange slices with drinks in the top right corner of the photo and more plates and forks to the left.

Citrus and Kale Salad with Fig and Honey Vinaigrette

Upping your salad game is life changing. For hot weather, the moisture of fresh vegetables can help keep you hydrated. Plus, the colors are beautiful. Once you open your mind to radicchio, fennel, or fruit additions like blood orange and grapefruit, you’ll never go back to just thinking of salad as a tossed-together pile of vegetables.

A table setting of Italian rice salad and Bruschetta

Easy Italian Rice Salad

This one does require turning on the stove, but once you boil that Arborio rice until tender, you have leftovers for days. If you want something heartier than a green salad, this is a great way to incorporate carbs without the heaviness of a big pasta dish. Also, makes a super fun presentation opportunity with the varied colors and shapes of sliced olives, cubed cheese, and halved cherry tomatoes. 

Drinks

A bright and refreshing orange soda and gin cocktail.

Orange Soda Gin Spritz

Summer is spritz season. Spritzes come in so many variations: absinthe, Campari, Aperol, limoncello…pretty much anything can become a spritz as long as it has the right balance of ingredients. This spritz from TABLE publisher Justin Matase uses a combination of gin, campari, lemon juice, and orange juice to get a refreshing citrus flavor.

a tall glass with beer and lime with a bottle of beer in the background

Clara Michelada

To me, Modelo is an absolute hot weather classic. Unbeatable. The moment you take it out of the fridge and feel how cool the bottle is in your hand, your day instantly improves. A Michelada is a cocktail that takes beer, usually Modelo, and enhances it with a little squeeze of lime juice and a salted rim. Easy, and adds something fun to a simple evening of cracking open a cold one.

a gin cocktail with a dash of purple

Violet Collins

Another hit from Justin, this is a light and sippable cocktail with Créme de Violette liqueur. Nice for the dusky twilight color of a summer night and easy to make with only a few ingredients. Plus, it photographs super well for all the party photos you’ll post later on Instagram.

Desserts

Two glasses of Nespresso Affogato with pizzelle garnishes in front of a Nespresso machine with a shot of espresso brewed beneath it.

Affogato

If you’ve never had an affogato before, you’re missing out. A rich shot of espresso with a little bit of ice cream makes for a dessert that cools you off and won’t make you feel bloated afterward. Just maybe don’t drink it before bed.

7 rainbow pride popsicles sit on a black table with slices of lemon scattered beneath them.

Pride Popsicles

Pride is about to be over, but be proud and show support every day of the year. This recipe could also just be a hot girl summer rainbow popsicle. Basic popsicles are an easy at-home recipe once you have a mold, and don’t require much beyond sugar, color, and cold water.

Four Tomato Water Lemonade Popsicles with Raspberries & Mint sit on a white tray surrounded by tomatoes of various colors and sizes

Tomato Water Lemonade Popsicles

This uses a by-product of our Tomato Jam Hand Pies recipe, but you can do it with other kinds of vegetable-infused water like cucumber water. Good way to eat your veggies in a slightly sweet context.

Or, honestly, go totally CARE FREE go buy yourself a pint of ice cream. No need to over-complicate things. Stay cool!

Story by Emma Riva / Photography by Dave Bryce

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