Cut It in Half: the Time, the Heat and the Food

 A hand holding a sharp knife is cutting into a tomato held in place by the other hand hooped over the top of it . There are some green grapes in the center and a chicken sausage cut in half on the left. It looks a bit like 2 more pale fingers!
A hand holding a sharp knife is cutting into a tomato held in place by the other hand hooped over the top of it . There are some green grapes in the center and a chicken sausage cut in half on the left. It looks a bit like 2 more pale fingers!

There are plenty of excellent blind cooks, and some brilliant ones like Christine Ha  who won the Master Chef contest a few years ago. This post is not meant for them, but for anyone new to cooking without  using vision. And also for the tired and hungry who want a summer dinner without stress or a lot of work. A couple of these recipes use fairly new quick foods that are useful to know about. There’s no chopping involved, just some cutting in half.

Here’s how to cut any roundish food in half:

Place your knife along the center of the tomato or whatever. Hoop your thumb and first finger over the top of the knife, so you are bridging the tomato and holding it on both sides. Then saw with the knife a little back and forth to start the cutting before pressing straight down. If your tomato half is still bigger than your mouth, place the cut side down and repeat the hoop process. (Check the caption and the photo at the top of this post.)

Here are 3 suggestions that you can vary according to your taste. They use easily available ingredients, and not too many of them. The recipe amounts are for 2 servings. Part of a bag of washed baby greens are the base or accompanying salad for these recipes. Check the greens through the bag to make sure they feel springy and fresh before you buy.

Couscous Salad

(Couscous is a creamy white wheat product. Bulgur is just as easy to prepare and a whole wheat product, but is not so easy to find.)

1 cup water

¾ cup couscous (Near East Original is a good one to start with)

3 tablespoons oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

½ cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

1 cup grapes, washed and halved

¾ cup sliced cooked ham, torn into small pieces

salt and pepper

mixed salad greens


Mix the couscous and water together with a little oil, salt and pepper and bring to boiling point in the microwave or on the stove top. Stir the couscous then turn off the heat, cover the pot and leave for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile prepare the grapes and ham and lemon juice.

Transfer the couscous to a cool bowl and stir in the oil, lemon, grapes, ham and mozzarella.

Taste and check the seasoning. Serve warm or cold on a bed of baby greens.

Rice Salad

The instant rice products from Minute rice and Uncle Ben’s, among others, give you 1-2 cups of cooked rice in a minute. The only problem is finding the ones you like among all the choices. You might want to start with the least seasoned.

2 x 1 cup containers Minute multi grain rice

1 cup grape tomatoes, washed and cut in half

3-4 hot dogs or precooked chicken sausages

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon mustard or salsa

mixed greens


Release the foil lid of the rice cups and microwave each one separately on high for 1minute or (with Uncle Ben’s packs for 90seconds)

Transfer the rice to a cool bowl.

Cut the sausages in half lengthwise and microwave them for 1 minute just to get their juices going.

Stir the tomatoes, mayonnaise and salsa or mustard into the rice and serve surrounded by the baby greens, and the sausages.

This can be varied with 2 cups cooked defrosted salad shrimp, and ketchup instead of mustard. You also lower the calorie count. If you can buy the 2pound bag of loose small shrimp from Sam’s Club or similar grocery clubs they aren’t such an extravagance.

Potato Salad

12 baby potatoes, scrubbed and checked for eyes

¼ onion coarsely grated, or ¼ cup frozen chopped onion

1/3-1/2 cup your favorite salad dressing

7 1/2oz can solid pack white tuna

Salt and pepper


Cover the scrubbed baby potatoes with cold water and bring to a boil. Add 1 tsp. salt if you like. Boil for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a fork pushed into one of the potatoes goes in easily.

Clear the kitchen of pets and children and carry the pot to the sink and place it in the bottom. Turn on the cold faucet and leave it to run over the potatoes for several minutes while you prepare the tuna.

Drain the tuna. Put the dressing, grated onion and the tuna broken into small pieces in the bottom of a big bowl.

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them in half and add them to the tuna mixture.

Mix the potatoes and tuna together carefully using an up and over movement with a big metal spoon instead of stirring round and round. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve  warm or cold with mixed greens.

What are your favorite summer dinners? Please share them with the rest of us by posting a comment here.

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