Marge Perry, Newsday's weekly 3 Simple columnist, also writes, broadcasts, teaches and speaks about cooking, food and nutrition.
TIP To keep tortillas pliable, stack them on a plate and cover with a damp cloth or paper towel. Microwave for 30 to 45 seconds, depending on your microwave.
Air-conditioning or not, it can be a welcome relief to stay away from the stovetop and oven on these dog days of summer.
All recipes make 4 servings.
BLACK BEAN SALAD WITH CHEESE-AVOCADO TOASTS
1 (15-ounce) can lower-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
4 ribs celery, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 mango, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
2 teaspoons lime juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/8 teaspoon roasted ground coriander
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 ounces Cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
2 light whole-grain English muffins, split
1. Combine the black beans, celery, bell pepper, mango and tomatoes in a bowl.
2. Halve the avocado, remove the pit and cut 4 thin slices from it. Set the slices aside, rubbing the exposed surfaces lightly with the cut side of a lime. Chop the remaining avocado into 1/4-inch pieces and add to the black bean mixture.
3. In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, cumin, paprika and coriander; whisk in the olive oil. Toss with the bean mixture.
4. Divide the cheese evenly among the 4 English muffin halves and place in the toaster oven to melt. When the cheese is melted, remove from the oven and top each with a slice of the avocado. Serve with the bean salad.
Nutritional analysis per serving 373 calories, 14 g protein, 44 g carbohydrates, 15 g fiber, 19 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 311 mg sodium
CHICKEN AND PEACH PANZANELLA
2 cups cooked rotisserie chicken breast (cut into bite-size pieces)
1 (8 ounce) whole-wheat baguette, cut or torn into 1-inch pieces
2 peaches, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
8 ounces plum tomatoes, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1/3 cup basil leaves, cut into thin strips
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon red-wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1. Combine the chicken, bread, peaches, tomato, basil and onion in a large bowl.
2. In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, salt and pepper; whisk in the olive oil. Toss the dressing with the bread mixture and allow to sit 20 minutes before serving.
Nutritional analysis per serving 416 calories, 30 g protein, 40 g carbohydrates, 6 g fiber, 15 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 572 mg sodium
COCONUT-CURRY BEEF AND CABBAGE ROLLS
1/4 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon Thai red curry paste
1 pound deli-sliced roast beef, cut into 1/4-inch strips
4 cups shredded napa cabbage
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 Persian cucumber, cut into 1/4-inch strips
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch wide strips
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup mint leaves, chopped
4 (7- to 8-inch) flour tortillas
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1. Combine coconut milk, lime juice, fish sauce, honey and curry paste in a small bowl; whisk until smooth.
2. Combine roast beef, cabbage, onion, cucumber, red pepper, cilantro and mint in a bowl. Toss with dressing.
3. Brush 1 side of each of the tortillas lightly with the oil and warm according to package directions (or follow tip above). Place one-fourth of the roast beef mixture in a column down the center of the brushed side of each tortilla: fold the bottom inch of the tortilla up over filling and roll tortilla lengthwise to enclose. Serve immediately.
Nutritional analysis per serving 362 calories, 28 g protein, 36 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 12 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 2,009 mg sodium (to lower sodium, look for low-sodium tortillas and low-sodium sliced roast beef)