Best Veggie Recipes for Hot Weather

It's a principle of Traditional Chinese Medicine a lot of folks find hard to swallow - cooked vegetables are preferable to raw. Raw vegetables need to be 'cooked' by your body to make their nutrients available - you can ease the stress on your bod by doing the cooking ahead of time. Especially if you suffer from indigestion, bloating or other digestive ailments, make the switch to cooked veggies (and swear off those kale caesars!) and you'll feel the difference.

So what to do in hot weather when the thought of a piping hot dish of veggies sounds horrible? Meet the cooked salad! Most cultures serve vegetables this way in summer - here's a few options I love for getting easy to digest veggies on the menu when the weather's beastly.

1. Salade Niçoise. This classic dish from the south of Frances is easy to whip up. Plate boiled potatoes, hardboiled egg, blanched green beans, canned (or grilled) tuna, capers, olives (oil cured  (known as Niçoise) olives are traditional, but any black ones will do) and dress with a lemony or white wine vinaigrette for a robust main course salad that makes a great packed lunch. Here's recipe from Saveur that bulks it up with cooked beets - yum!

2. Gado Gado. This addictive dish from Indonesia has infinite variations - but the version I like to make combines cooked potatoes, green beans, bean sprouts, greens and tofu, with a spicy, umami peanut sauce for the perfect hot weather concoction. You could sub out tofu for chicken, and peanuts for almonds or tahini, depending on your dietary restrictions. Saveur has a delicious looking, if rather complicated, version. I'd advise skipping the shrimp chips!

3. Fermented vegetables. The natural fermentation process 'cooks' the vegetables without heat, and the beneficial bacteria produced help keep your digestion happy. The end result is a healthy veggie dish you can add to any meal without cooking, chopping or heating - after you make them, you just open the jar and spoon them out! There's endless recipes for naturally fermented veggies out there, for every taste. I recently made Korean-style spicy zucchini spears with some baby zukes from the farmers market (that's them with tons of garlic, scallions, ginger and chili in the pic). I adapted this recipe to make my pickles. Not everyone can tolerate the amount of spicy flavor in these (read about how hot tea and spicy foods can cool you down), but I love it.

Enjoy some cooked veggies on hot day - you'll make your stomach, and your acupuncturist, very happy!

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