Temperatures in much of America this summer have been hovering between inferno and sticky mess. Food writer Nigella Lawson offers cool and refreshing dishes to please the palate and cool the body.
Lawson recommends what she calls Cloudy Lemonade For A Sunny Day, from her latest book, Nigella Fresh. As she tells NPR's Steve Inskeep, the cooling drink's cloudiness comes from using the entire fruit, peel and all.
The recipe is straightforward: Put lemons, club soda and superfine sugar in a blender with ice, "and just blitz," Lawson says.
"I love a note of slight sourness and bitterness," she says, "because actually, something that is oversweet is not thirst-quenching."
Lawson's next suggestion often draws suspicion, she says: a watermelon and feta salad, with black olives. For inspiration, Lawson looked to the eastern Mediterranean, where coping with high temperatures is a way of life. It's common to see cooling watermelon paired with feta in Israel, Lawson says — and her dish matches the sweetness of watermelon with the cheese's sharp saltiness.
"In life, balance is very important — and it's something that I always feel evades us, mostly, in life," she says. So you may as well get it in the kitchen."
And instead of relying on Americans' usual sugar-heavy lineup of summer treats — popsicles, pies and ice cream — Lawson recommends using sour flavors, as well.
"What it does, is it makes a taste round, rather than one-dimensional," she says.
Lawson's other suggestions from her new book include Chilled Caramelized Oranges with Yogurt — also known as arancia alla principessa; Red Currant Slush Sorbet; and Mint and Lime Cool Aid.