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Too hot to cook? Try these salads. If they need any preparation involving heat it can be done on the barbecue grill.

SUBMITTED PHOTOS: FOOD 52  - Chimichurri Chickpea Salad is cool choice for a quick, satisfying dinner during hot weather. It requires no cooking.

It's H-A-W-T, and I love it.

I know this weather brings discomfort to some, and even with air conditioning, nobody really likes heating up the kitchen on hot days. One solution: Eat ice cream and frozen treats for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

A favorite meal I remember eating on blistery summer days when I was young was soft-serve ice cream topped with fresh, seasonal fruit. The kids would probably love that, but the more nutrition conscious among us would prefer to eat more healthfully. To accommodate a cool kitchen and happy families, I scouted recipes that provide hearty nutrition, while still packing in the fun factor. These dishes will travel easily if you want to take a hike to escape the heat, or head to the park for an evening of music or a movie. Add a cool watermelon for dessert, and you are set.

The recipes get protein from beans, lentils and kamut, an ancient wheat, so they are filling. Kamut is a type of grain often called Khorasan wheat, and Khorasan refers to a historical region in the Middle East. You can substitute use farro, spelt or wheat berries for the kamut.

The dressings can be used again and again on salads of all kinds.

Don't sweat the heat. Head to the splash pads, and think cool thoughts. It won't last too long, so let's enjoy it while it is here.

Bon appetit! Make eating an adventure!

Chimichurri Chickpeas

Serves 4

For the chimichurri:

1 cup packed flat-leaf parsley

1/2 cup packed mint

1/2 cup packed cilantro

1 serrano or other hot green chili

Pinches red pepper flakes, optional

1 garlic clove, peeled

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 tablespoon sherry or white wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

1/4 cup olive oil

To make the chimichurri: Combine all ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor. Process until everything is roughly chopped. Gradually stream in the olive oil, mixing until you have a well-blended sauce. Taste and adjust salt and lime juice levels.

For the salad:

2 15-ounce cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed

1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

1/4 pound feta cheese, crumbled or cubed

1/4 cup chopped toasted almonds

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Toasted or grilled bread and Greek yogurt, for serving

In a large bowl combine all ingredients with the chimichurri (start with only part of it, then add more to your liking). Season with salt and pepper.

Serve over toasted or grilled bread spread with plain Greek yogurt, or mix it with cooked grains, or pile it alongside broiled fish or roasted vegetables.

Grilled Summer Salad with a citrus and pomegranate molasses dressing would be a welcome meal on a hot summer night. Preparation is quick, and the salad is delicious.

Grilled Summer Salad with a citrus and pomegranate molasses dressing

Use your gas grill to keep the heat out of the kitchen.

Serves 4

Citrus and Pomegranate Dressing:

1 1/2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Juice of 1/2 orange

1/2 teaspoon orange zest

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/2 teaspoon crush toasted cumin

Salt to taste

To make pomegranate molasses from scratch, place 1 liter pomegranate juice in a wide skillet and boil until thickened.

The molasses is ready when a wooden spoon drawn through across the bottom of the skillet leaves the pan surface exposed for some time before the molasses flows over it. It takes 1 liter of juice to yield about 1/3 of a cup of molasses.

Combine the molasses, olive oil, lemon juice, orange juice, orange zest, salt, pepper, cumin, and whisk together till combined. Adjust seasoning. Set aside until ready to use.

Grilled summer salad:

1 cob fresh corn

2 1/4 inch slices fresh pineapple

2 medium Peruvian purple potatoes

2 medium red potatoes

1 English cucumber, diced

2 tablespoons olive oil

Sea salt to taste

1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

2 sprigs cilantro or 8-10 mint leaves

3-4 iceberg lettuce leaves

Dice potatoes into 1/2-inch cubes, place in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil, and add sea salt and pepper. Marinate for 15 minutes, then roast in a grill basket over a grill until golden brown.

Grill the pineapple slices about 2 minutes each side, remove and cut into bite-size pieces.

Soak the corn in water for 10 minutes, then remove the silk, but keep the husk intact. Pull the husk up around the corn and place on grill, turning the cob as the husks char. When corn has rotated on all sides and is cooked, remove from grill, and allow to cool and then cut kernels off the cob and add to a large bowl.

Chiffonade the mint leaves (stack leaves and cut into thin strips), add to the corn then toss to combine. Add pineapple and potatoes and drizzle with dressing. Garnish with more mint or cilantro and serve on lettuce leaves.

French Lentil, Kamut and Avocado Salad is another cool dinner. It gets protein from lentils and kamut, which is a type of grain often called Khorasan wheat, and Khorasan refers to a historical region in the Middle East. You can substitute wheat berries for the kamut.

French Lentil, Kamut and Avocado Salad

with Basil Dressing

Serves 6-8

1/2 cup French lentils

3 to 4 cups water or vegetable broth

1/2 cup kamut berries, soaked overnight and drained

4 to 5 cups arugula or other mixed greens

1 fennel bulb, sliced

3 carrots, peeled into strips

3 radishes, julienned

1 cucumber, julienned

1 tomato, diced

3 green onions, sliced

2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, toasted, plus more for garnish

3 to 4 avocados

Basil dressing:

1/4 cup olive oil

2 to 3 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons fresh basil

1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste

In a medium saucepan, bring lentils and water or vegetable broth to a boil and simmer until lentils are slightly tender. Drain and allow to cool.

In a medium saucepan, bring kamut berries to boil in 1 1/2 cups water or vegetable broth. Decrease the heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook until the kamut berries are tender, but still slightly chewy, 50 to 60 minutes. Remove from heat.

Drain any remaining liquid and allow to cool.

To make the basil dressing: In a mini food processor, blend the oil, garlic, fresh basil and salt.

Once the lentils and kamut have cooked, make the salad. In a large bowl, add greens, fennel, carrots, radishes, cucumbers, tomatoes, green onions and pumpkin seeds. Gradually add basil dressing, keeping in mind you may not use it all. Toss to combine. Taste and adjust for salt. Let salad sit at room temperature for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to come together.

Toss again before serving; serve with 1/2 sliced avocado on top of each salad. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and drizzle with more basil oil dressing.

Cook's note: Be sure to soak the kamut overnight before you make this salad. If you have difficulty finding kamut berries, use farro, spelt or wheat berries.

(All recipes from food52.com)

Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-636-1281 ext. 100 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. She is the author of "Willamette Valley Wineries," a pictorial history of the Willamette Valley wine industry. Follow her on Twitter @barbrandallfood.

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