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Cooling, Colorful Summer Food
Cooling, Colorful Summer Food
Photography by Stacey Cramp
New Cookbook Serves Up Dishes to Beat the Heat

The idea for cookbook author Vanessa Seder’s latest book, Eat Cool: Good Food for Hot Days (Rizzoli, March 2021) took root in her kitchen in the summer of 2018. She was working on unrelated recipe development and food styling projects that required nonstop use of her oven during a stretch of steamy weather; her home in Portland was older and lacked air conditioning. At the ends of those long, hot days, Seder says she was desperate to create interesting family dinners that didn’t require prolonged use of a heat source to prepare.


Neither raw food fanatic nor vegetarian, trained scientist nor outspoken environmentalist, Seder, a native Los Angeleno, instinctively fixed on bright, flavorful, vegetable-forward dishes that required few fossil fuels to prepare (think breakfast salads, cold noodle entrees, and parfait desserts) and included ingredients that are naturally cooling to a body (think fresh yogurt, chilled seafood, and crisp vegetables).


This enticingly styled book offers up 100 approachable recipes that draw on Seder’s zest for exploring the world through food. There are Asian, Indian, South American, Mexican, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean influences sprinkled throughout Eat Cool not only because those cuisines are among her favorites, but because they are “also rich sources of climate-savvy culinary wisdom, having evolved over thousands of years in hot and humid regions,” she writes. Here, we reprint a subset of those recipes that demonstrate Seder’s keen insight on how to best merge spices and techniques from afar with ingredients local to Maine.


Look for Eat Cool at your favorite independent bookstore.

Go to www.vanessaseder.com to learn about the

COVID-safe book events Seder will be participating in this summer.


Oysters with Cucumber Radish Mignonette


Serves 4 as an appetizer

1 ¼ cups minced unpeeled seedless cucumber

¼ cup minced radish

2 tablespoons minced shallot

½ cup unseasoned rice vinegar

¼ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 cups ice cubes

12 fresh raw oysters, shucked


Preparation — Place the cucumber, radish, shallot, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Stir to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve. The mignonette can be made up to 1 day ahead of time. To serve, place the ice in a food processor and pulse a few times until slightly crushed. Spread the ice out onto a large tray or oyster plate and place the oysters on top of the ice. Serve the oysters immediately with a ramekin of the mignonette sauce, a small spoon, and a few oyster forks.


Lobster, Asparagus, and Daikon Summer Rolls with Orange, Sesame, and Chile Dipping Sauce


Makes 8 rolls and about ⅓ cup sauce

For the dipping sauce

1 teaspoon fresh orange zest

¼ cup fresh orange juice

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1 teaspoon sugar

1–2 teaspoons sambal chile sauce

For the summer rolls

3 ounces dried thin rice vermicelli

Sea salt

1 pound asparagus, bottom ends trimmed, each cut in half lengthwise

8 large round rice wrappers (about 10 inches
in diameter)

8 ounces fresh lobster meat

2 cups julienned purple daikon

Pickled ginger, for serving


Preparation — To make the dipping sauce, whisk together in a small bowl the orange zest, orange juice, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and chile sauce and set aside until ready to use.

To make the summer rolls, first cook the vermicelli according to the package instructions. Transfer to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking, then drain and set aside. Reserve the bowl of ice water for
the asparagus.


Fill a large high-sided skillet with 1 inch of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, about 4 minutes. Heavily salt the water and add the asparagus. Cook until the asparagus is crisp-tender, about 3 minutes, then use tongs to transfer to the bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain the asparagus and set aside until ready to use.


Fill a large shallow dish with very hot water. Working quickly, completely submerge one rice wrapper in the hot water until soft and pliable, 10–15 seconds. Remove from the water and place on a cutting board.


Lay 1 ounce lobster meat in the center of the rice wrapper along with some of the vermicelli, daikon, and asparagus. Fold the bottom half of the wrapper over the filling, then fold in the sides of the wrapper. Pressing down firmly, hold the folds in place and tightly roll the wrapper up from bottom to top, then transfer to a large platter. Repeat with the remaining rice wrappers and fillings. Serve the summer rolls immediately with the dipping sauce and pickled ginger, if desired.


Fresh Corn Salad with Peas and Herbs


Serves 4

For the pea puree

2 cups shelled or frozen and thawed peas

½ cup water

1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon sugar

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the dressing

2 tablespoons grainy mustard

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

½ teaspoon sugar

¼ teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

For the salad

2 cups raw corn kernels (from 2–3 corn cobs)

2 cups sugar snap peas, sliced in half lengthwise

2 cups pea tendrils

1 cup thinly sliced radicchio

½ cup coarsely chopped fresh herbs, such as dill, mint, and flat-leaf parsley

1 cup crumbled ricotta salata cheese

Edible flowers, such as borage, marigold, or radish flowers, for garnish


Preparation — To make the pea puree, place the shelled peas, water, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. The puree can be made a day ahead of time, if desired. Divide the pea puree among 4 large plates and smooth out with a spoon or offset spatula. Set aside.


To make the dressing, combine in a small bowl the mustard, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper, then whisk in the olive oil to incorporate.


To make the salad, divide the corn among the 4 plates with the pea puree and top with the sugar snap peas, pea tendrils, radicchio, and herbs. Drizzle with the dressing, sprinkle with the ricotta salata, and garnish with the edible flowers if desired. Serve immediately.

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