My oven is fine, so you know. It’s just that I can’t stand to use it this time of year.

For a number of somewhat boring reasons we only have air conditioning on the second and third floors of our house. The first floor stays mostly comfortable because the humidity is well-controlled, but because it’s been a hotter summer in general and we had to have a very large, but very dead, tree removed from our yard, things are just warmer this year than they were last year.

I try to avoid using the oven a lot in summer anyway, but this year it’s pretty much off the table entirely. One night last week I baked a frozen pizza and although pizza is its own reward and should almost never be regretted, I wanted to kick myself the rest of the evening. The kitchen and living room would just not cool down. Last night, I used the cooktop to boil some corn and sauté some shishito peppers and even that made it a bit uncomfortable, but I can’t see eliminating the range entirely.

We’ve been grilling some, of course, and that’s fine, although there is nothing much to recommend standing over a 500-degree cauldron of flame when it’s in the nineties, either. At least it keeps the heat out of the house, I guess?

In any event I’ve been making a lot of salads over the last month or so, many of these from the Smitten Kitchen blog. Much like America’s Test Kitchen it has really never steered me wrong. Tonight I’m going to make this, which should be interesting because I’ve never made farro before. I had rave reviews from this salad, too, and it’s a great replacement for regular old cole slaw if you’re tired of the same old, same old.

Pasta salad with roasted tomatoes
My husband loved this. I intentionally made a lot of this (I’ll often cut down recipes so we don’t end up wasting food) and ate it a couple of times for lunch during the week. I highly recommend. This does require roasting the tomatoes for 90 minutes at around 300; so yeah you’ll need to use the oven but the temperature isn’t too high. Roast them early in the day, maybe?

Takeout-style sesame noodles with cucumber
I haven’t made this one yet, but might try it this week. I have a recipe for cold sesame noodles that’s very basic, and I like it all right, though I’ve always made it with spaghetti (because it’s usually in the pantry) and it’s not quite right. Also my husband will eat it but I’m not sure it’s his most favorite thing in the world. This lightens up the recipe considerably and I’d definitely use rice noodles. This would require minimal stovetop use and would be great as leftovers, too.

Obsessively good avocado-cucumber salad
Five stars! I took this to a family dinner recently and I would 100% make it again. I added chopped romaine to stretch the other ingredients a little bit. The slightly spicy dressing is a nice addition and if you want it spicier…well, you can go on ahead and do that.

Spicy pasta salad with smoked Gouda, tomatoes and basil
This one’s from the Pioneer Woman and I’ve yet to try it. It might be a little heavy for a side dish in the summer, but as a main I think it would be okay (or you could just lighten up on the cheese). Maybe that’s just my hangup? Anyway I’m always looking for ways to use more of the basil that is going crazy in my herb pots outside, and this seems like as good a use as any.

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