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Cool Meals For A Summer Heat Wave

This week it's been too hot to even think about cooking. When the temperature tops the 100-degree mark, the last thing I want to do is turn on a stove (not that I could anyway this past weekend – the electricity was off for two days).

There's a better way to prepare a meal when it's too hot to cook. With a little imagination you can put dinner on the table without even turning on that stove!

Today's summer heat wave recipes include: Pineapple Boats, Antipasto Heroes, Chicken Breasts with Plum Tomato Sauce, Fresh Mozzarella Tomato Sandwiches, Gazpacho.

PINEAPPLE BOATS

2 med. Pineapples, 4 kiwifruit, 1 c. seedless grapes, 1/4 c. packed brown sugar, 1 tsp. poppy seeds, 1/2 lb. thin sliced prosciutto or cooked ham, 1/4 lb. Gouda or Swiss cheese, Parmesan, shaved for garnish

Slice each pineapple lengthwise in half through crown to stem end, leaving on leafy crown. Cut out tough core from center and loosen fruit by cutting close to rind; cut pineapple into bite size pieces, reserving pineapple shells. Place fruit in large bowl. Peel and slice kiwifruit into wedges; cut each grape in half if large. Place kiwi and grapes in bowl with pineapple, Toss fruit with brown sugar and poppy seeds. Line pineapple shells with proscuitto. Spoon fruit mixture on top. Cut cheese into bite size pieces; tuck cheese pieces among fruit. Garnish with shaved Parmesan.

ANTIPASTO HEROES

1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil, 2 T. red wine vinegar, 1 tsp. sugar, 3/4 tsp oregano, 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper, 4 lg. hero rolls, 1/2 head escarole, chopped, 1/2 lb. sliced salami, 1/2 lb. cooked sliced ham, 2 med. tomatoes, slices, 6 oz. jar pepperoncini, 1/2 lb. provolone cheese

In small bowl with fork or wire whisk mix olive oil, vinegar, sugar, oregano, and crushed red pepper until blended. Slice both loaves of bread horizontally in half. Spoon oil-vinegar dressing onto cut sides of bread halves. Arrange escarole and radicchio on bottom halves of bread. Top with provolone cheese, salami, ham, tomatoes, peperoncini (sweet Italian peppers), and remaining bread. Cut each sandwich crosswise in half. Serves six to eight.

CHICKEN BREAST WITH PLUM TOMATO SAUCE

3 plum tomatoes, 1 med. dill pickle, 1 sm. garlic clove, 2 T. olive oil, 1 T. fresh basil, chopped, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/8 tsp. pepper, 2 lb. roasted chicken breast halves, 6 c. torn salad greens

Prepare plum tomato sauce; cut each tomato in half and remove tough area around stem; squeeze each tomato half to remove seeds. Chop tomatoes. Finely chop dill pickle and garlic. In medium bowl combine tomatoes, pickle, garlic, olive or salad oil, chopped fresh basil, salt and pepper and mix well. Discard bones from chicken; cut each breast half diagonally into four slices, keeping slices together. Arrange salad greens on four dinner plates. Place chicken breast halves on top of greens, fanning slices slightly. Spoon tomato sauce over chicken. Serves four.

FRESH MOZARRELA TOMATO SANDWICHES

1/2 c. Salsa Verde, 8 slices thick Tuscan bread, 2 ripe tomatoes, sliced, 8 slices fresh mozzarella

Spread about 1 T. Salsa Verde on one side of each bread slice. Place two tomato slices and two mozzarella slices on each of four bread slices. Place remaining bread slices, sauce side down, on top. Cut sandwiches in half. Serves four.

Salsa Verde

1 garlic clove, halved, 1/4 tsp. salt, 2 c. fresh Italian parsley, 1/3 c. olive oil, 3 T. capers, drained, 3 T. fresh lemon juice, 1 tsp. Dijon mustard, 1/8 tsp. black pepper

In food processor with knife blade combine all ingredients and blend until finely chopped. If not using right away cover and refrigerate up to three days. Makes 3-1/2 cups.

EASY GAZPACHO

1 c. lg. ice cubes, 6 lg. ripe tomatoes, 2 English cucumbers, peeled and cut in 2-in. chunks, 1 c. fresh corn kernels, 1/2 c. loose packed cilantro, 2 T. fresh lime juice, 3/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper, hot pepper sauce, lime wedges

In food processor with knife blade coarsely chop all ingredients except lime wedges. If not serving right away cover and refrigerate up to one day. Serve with lime wedges. Makes eight first course servings.