Create: Cool Meals for Hot Summer Days


It’s August … in Arkansas, which means 100-degree days are the norm. And while we love to fire up the grill, some days we just want a quick, cool meal that’s filling yet satisfying and tasty.

Photography by Janet Warlick


The following recipes fit the bill; they’re some of AY’s staffers’ favorite go-to recipes. They feature fresh, light ingredients as well as a few shortcuts. To ensure success, this month we called upon the culinary skills of Scott Rains, executive chef/partner of the popular Table 28.


Juicy Watermelon Salad

  • 8 cups seedless watermelon, cubed
  • 1 small red onion, cut into rings
  • 1 cup macadamia nuts or almonds slivers, toasted
  • 1 cup fresh arugula or baby spinach
  • ⅓ cup balsamic vinaigrette
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 4 ounces crumbled blue cheese
  • watermelon slices, optional

In a large bowl, combine watermelon and onion; cover and refrigerate until cold, about 30 minutes. Just before serving, add nuts and arugula. In small bowl, whisk vinaigrette and oil; drizzle over salad and toss to coat. Serve over watermelon slices, if desired. Sprinkle with cheese.
“This is a great tasty salad. For variation, try adding avocado — it’s a good fat, a great source of protein and will add great color. I’d suggest using extra virgin olive oil versus canola oil,” Rains said.

He also prefers arugula over the spinach as arugula adds a peppery taste which is a nice contrast to the watermelon.

Source: Taste of Home

Craisin and Pecan Chicken Salad

  • 4 cups of pulled rotisserie chicken
  • ½ cup minced celery
  • ½ cup minced onion
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • ½ cup Craisins
  • ⅔ sour cream
  • ⅔ mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate. Serve on a bed of fresh greens, in a pita pocket or on your favorite whole-grain bread.

Note: Add more mayonnaise, if needed. Instead of pecans and Craisins, you may also try:
apples and walnuts; cucumbers and bacon; or sliced almonds and grapes.

Yields 6 to 8 servings

Courtesy of Anthony Tally


Lemon Chicken Pasta

  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • 3 ounces fresh baby spinach, chopped
  • 4 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
  • ½ cup chopped fresh basil
  • 16 ounces linguini, cooked and drained
  • 1 lemon pepper rotisserie chicken, boned and chopped
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste

Combine olive oil, garlic and lemon zest in small bowl. Squeeze the lemon juice over the spinach in a large bowl. Add the cheese and basil; toss to mix well. Add the hot pasta and olive oil mixture. Mix well. Add the chicken and season.

Serve with a light white wine and a baguette slice drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with pepper.

Serves 8

Note: If you cannot find a lemon pepper rotisserie chicken, Rains suggests using fresh cracked pepper to enhance this dish.

Source: Big Taste of Little Rock, JLLR


Watermelon Margarita

  • 4 cups seedless watermelon
  • ¾ cup tequila
  • ½ cup triple sec
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 cups ice

Freeze watermelon until firm. Combine frozen watermelon with tequila, triple sec, sugar, lime juice in a blender. Process until smooth. Add the ice in batches, processing to the desired consistency. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Source: Big Taste of Little Rock, JLLR


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