Cool It

Photo: Baila Gluck

By the time summer rolls around (and I’m grumpy from the heat), I have two goals surrounding any food I prepare: either my kitchen has to stay cool or the food I eat has to cool me off. If it doesn’t fit those criteria . . . well, there is a good chance I just won’t be making it. The heat of summer brings a natural craving for something light and refreshing enough to satisfy and revitalize. My go-to is to let the season’s beautiful summer produce lead the way in my cooking. Farmers’ markets, farm stands and “u-pick” fruit picking are all local sources for ripe seasonal fruit and vegetables. At the height of the season, you need not fuss that much to achieve excellent results.

Despite the changing seasons, we often fail to adapt in the kitchen as it is hard to get creative or change up our ingrained menu routines. Stuck in a rut (or a hot kitchen)? Chilled soups (no cooking required!) are welcome appetizers on hot Shabbat days (or nights). Frozen treats like sorbet or ices require no oven and can be made days or even a week in advance. Consider taking your cooking outside and prepare your entrée on the grill – grilled meat salads are filling but don’t make you feel lethargic. Follow these great summer recipes to help keep your cool!


Photo: Baila Gluck

Minted Cantaloupe Soup

Yields 6-8 servings

Melons are a great mild base for fruit soup. I enjoy using honeydew for a slightly different but equally delicious flavor.

1 ripe cantaloupe, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks

½ cup orange juice    

¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from about 2


¼ cup fresh lime juice (from about 2 limes)

20 fresh mint leaves (from about 3-4 sprigs)

2-3 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger root

2-3 tablespoons honey, or more to taste

¼ cup white wine

Yogurt or heavy cream, for drizzling



Combine all ingredients (except yogurt) in a blender or food processor. Process until smooth. Chill well and serve garnished with a swirl of yogurt or cream (optional) and fresh mint.

Chef’s Note: Stir before serving. The ingredients separate a bit as they sit.


Grilled Steak and Portobello Salad with Honey-Pesto Dressing

Yields 6 servings

Marinating the steak and mushrooms in a simple balsamic vinaigrette infuses tons of flavor.

Grilled Steak Salad

1⁄3 cup balsamic vinegar

½ teaspoon thyme

½ teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

½ cup olive oil

1 pound New York strip or fillet

split steak

2-3 large portobello mushrooms (caps only)

1 (8-ounce) package baby arugula, for


1 pint grape tomatoes, for garnish

Honey-Pesto Dressing

1 bunch fresh basil (2 cups packed leaves)

1⁄3 cup pine nuts, toasted

3 tablespoons honey

Juice of ½ a lemon

2 garlic cloves, peeled

½ cup olive oil

½ teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Whisk balsamic vinegar, thyme, kosher salt and pepper together in a large mixing bowl until blended. Drizzle olive oil into mixture while continuously whisking until all of the olive oil is incorporated. Add steak and mushrooms to the mixture, and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Marinate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat grill to high. Carefully oil grates to prevent sticking (an oil-soaked paper towel with tongs works great for this job). Remove steak and mushrooms from the marinade (discarding marinade), and place on the grill directly over the heat. Grill steak on each side for about 5 minutes and the mushrooms on each side for about 3-4 minutes, turning once. Transfer to a plate or cutting board; rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.

While the meat rests, prepare the dressing. Place basil leaves, pine nuts, honey, lemon juice and garlic in a food processor bowl. Pulse in food processor until ingredients are pulverized. Then, with the motor running, slowly drizzle olive oil in a continuous stream until emulsified. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Arrange arugula on a large serving platter in an even layer. Thinly slice steak against the grain and transfer to the center of the greens. Slice mushroom caps and arrange on either side of the steak. Garnish with grape tomatoes and dress with spoonfuls of Honey-Pesto dressing. Serve immediately.

Chef’s Notes:

Steak can be marinated a day ahead of grilling.

Pesto can be made in advance, and keeps for weeks in the refrigerator. Perfect for dressing up salads or sandwiches anytime.


Photo: Baila Gluck

Watermelon-Lime Sorbet

Yields 1 quart

A perfectly refreshing end to any summer meal.

¾ cup sugar

½ cup water

5 cups seedless watermelon, chopped

1 tablespoon lime zest

1/3 cup fresh lime juice (from 2 limes)

Special equipment: Ice cream/sorbet maker


Place sugar and water into a small saucepan. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil, whisking until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Place watermelon, lime zest and lime juice in a food processor or blender. Process until mixture is completely smooth and blended. Add cooled sugar syrup and mix to blend. Chill for at least half an hour.

Process mixture in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions for 20-25 minutes. Transfer finished sorbet to a tightly sealed storage container and freeze until serving time.

Chef’s Note: No ice cream maker? Use the same recipe to make great ices in popsicle molds.


Mock-Crab & Peach Salad in Radicchio Cups

Yields 4-6 servings

A bold, no-cook salad that comes together quickly for a perfect cold appetizer or light lunch.


1 package frozen mock-crab, thawed and diced

2 peaches, diced

1 avocado, diced

1-2 scallions, sliced

Handful of mint, chopped

1 head radicchio, leaves separated

Toasted cashews, chopped, for garnish

Lime Dressing

½ teaspoon lime zest

¼ cup lime juice (from 2 limes)

¼ teaspoon cumin

1 tablespoon honey

¼ cup packed cilantro

½ jalapeno pepper (optional)

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/3 cup mayonnaise

½ teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Combine all dressing ingredients in food processor and process until completely blended and emulsified. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Combine mock-crab, peaches, avocado, scallions and mint in a large bowl. Toss with about half the dressing or more as needed to coat the salad (the remainder of the dressing can be used for another time).

Separate radicchio leaves to create cups. Fill radicchio cups with mock-crab salad and sprinkle with toasted cashews.


Naomi Ross is a cooking instructor and food writer based in Woodmere, New York. She teaches classes throughout the country and writes articles connecting delicious cooking and Jewish inspiration. Her first cookbook, The Giving Table, was recently released.


This article was featured in the Summer 2023 issue of Jewish Action.
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