It would have been nicer if summer came on gradually but… Instead it hit with a heat hammer that hasn’t let up much. So, the romantic in me has to give way to the practical. My favorite dinner–other than in a restaurant someplace on the river with air-conditioning and outdoor seating so I can have my choice of places to eat depending on the temperature–is one that is quick to fix, doesn’t heat up the kitchen too much but still has some sizzle to it romantically.

Here’s my personal fave, based on an old Sunset magazine recipe and amended over the years. Actually, it’s not even a recipe, just a list of suggestions.

You’ll need:

A package of tortellini. I use the kind from the cold case but dried is fine, too. It just takes longer.

One to two jars marinated artichoke hearts, chopped

One small container of cherry or other small tomatoes, halved

One small onion

Whatever other veggies you like–cucumbers, zucchini, marinated mushrooms, celery, peas, red or green peppers, sliced carrots or green beans.

First, cook prepared tortellini according to the package directions.

Second, drain tortellini and rinse until cool to the touch.

Next, mix the marinated artichoke hearts, marinade and all, into the pasta.

Last, add all the other veggies and taste. If there’s not enough dressing, add Italian dressing of your choice.

This salad travels well and is just as good at room temp as it is cold. And with love apples (tomatoes) and hearts (well, artichoke hearts) it’s super romantic, don’t you think?

So, what’s your favorite hot weather dish?

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