Simple, Scrumptious Summer Fare

Summer is a fabulous time to gather around the table with family and friends. Plan ahead, keep the cooking easy, and choose fresh produce that is popping up at farmers’ markets and roadside stands. The following selection of colorful, brain-boosting dishes is easy to prepare, focuses on including nutrition-packed vegetables at each meal, and is perfect fare for the Nine Days or anytime at all.

Sesame Salmon Sheet Pan Dinner
Adapted from The Brain Boosting Diet: Feed Your Memory by Norene Gilletz and Edward Wein, Ph.D. (Whitecap)
Yields 10 servings

Easy prep, easy clean-up! Sheet pan dinners are an excellent solution for time-starved cooks. So versatile, so delicious, and so many options—see my notes below.

Asian Dressing/Marinade
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger (optional)
1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari (preferably low-sodium)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons honey (or to taste)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Salmon
4 cups sliced mushrooms
2 red bell peppers, cut in thin strips
1 yellow bell pepper, cut in thin strips
1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large salmon fillet, with skin (about 3 lb)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3–1/2 cup black or white sesame seeds (or a combination)

1. First, create the marinade by combining all ingredients in a jar, covering tightly and shaking well. (The marinade can be made in advance and refrigerated until needed.)
2. Next, line a large baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
3. Spread mushrooms, peppers and onion in a single layer at one end of the prepared baking sheet and drizzle with oil. Place salmon, skin-side down, at the other end of the baking sheet. Lightly sprinkle salmon and vegetables with salt and pepper. Drizzle with marinade and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Let stand for 30–60 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 425°F. Bake, uncovered, for 15–18 minutes. Salmon will be glazed and golden and vegetables will be tender-crisp when done.
5. Cool slightly. Transfer salmon carefully to a large serving platter using a wide spatula. Surround salmon with vegetables. Serve hot or cold.

Norene’s Notes
Well-Dressed: The Asian Dressing/Marinade is excellent on your favorite salad. It also works well as a marinade for chicken, beef or tofu.
The Daily Catch: This is also delicious with rainbow trout, orange roughy, red snapper fillets, pickerel, or halibut. Reduce temperature to 400°F and bake for 10–12 minutes, until fish flakes when gently pressed with a fork and vegetables are tender. Vegetables may require an extra few minutes of cooking.
Veggie Heaven: Roast other quick-cooking vegetables, such as asparagus or broccoli spears, French green beans (haricots verts), sliced zucchini, or halved baby bok choy along with the fish. Portobello or other types of mushrooms are a tasty addition.
Go Nuts! Instead of sesame seeds, use slivered almonds, chopped cashews, walnuts or pistachios.

 

Cauliflower-Crusted Pizza
Adapted from The Brain Boosting Diet: Feed Your Memory by Norene Gilletz and Edward Wein, Ph.D. (Whitecap)
Yields 8 slices

Most pizza crusts made with riced cauliflower don’t taste great, and they definitely don’t resemble pizza at all. Great news, the search is over! Carolyn Cohen of Toronto shared her recipe for Cauliflower-Crusted Pizza, which I’ve adapted slightly.

Cauliflower Crust:
1 medium cauliflower, florets only (4 cups finely riced cauliflower)
1/2 cup spelt flour (or any flour you like)
1/2 cup almond meal/flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 large egg
1/2 cup finely grated reduced-fat mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil, for brushing

Toppings:
1 cup (approx.) shredded mozzarella cheese, either smoked or reduced-fat
12 cherry tomatoes, quartered (approx.)
1 big handful of spinach (approx. 3/4 cup)
10 fresh basil leaves, roughly torn

1. Place an oven rack in the second lowest position and preheat oven to 425°F. Heat a large, rimmed baking sheet in the oven as it preheats (see Carolyn’s Tip, below.)
2. In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, pulse cauliflower florets for 25–30 seconds, until they resemble rice. Measure 4 cups riced cauliflower into a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with a damp paper towel and microwave on high power for 4 minutes.
3. Transfer cauliflower to a clean kitchen towel and let cool. Wrap up cauliflower in the towel and squeeze out as much moisture as possible.
4. Transfer cauliflower to a large bowl. Add spelt flour, almond flour, salt, and garlic powder; stir well. Add egg and cheese and work dough with your hands so that everything is evenly distributed.
5. Remove hot baking sheet from the oven and place on a heatproof surface. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and brush with olive oil—be careful; the baking sheet is very hot!
6. Spoon cauliflower mixture onto the parchment-lined sheet and carefully spread it out. (Tip: If you place another piece of parchment paper on top and press down, it will help keep your hands clean!) Flatten crust into an oval or round shape, creating a nice, raised edge.
7. Bake crust for 12–15 minutes, until golden and set.
8. Remove pan from the oven and add toppings, starting with cheese. Bake 10–12 minutes longer, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.
9. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes. Cut into 8 wedges and enjoy.

Norene’s Notes
Carolyn’s Tip: Carolyn uses a cast iron flat-top sheet and preheats the oven to 500°F, using this temperature throughout the recipe. Her baking times are slightly shorter. Never use parchment paper at temperatures over 425°F as it will burn.
It’s in the Bag! Riced cauliflower has gone mainstream. It is available at many supermarkets and specialty stores. No prep, easy cleanup!
Gluten-Free Option: Replace spelt flour with gluten-free flour (e.g., chickpea flour, gluten-free oat flour, or all-purpose gluten-free flour).
Nut-Free Crust: Omit almond meal and increase grated mozzarella to 1 cup.
Top It Up! Add a handful of broccoli florets, sundried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, zucchini, and/or diced red onion. Crumbled feta or goat cheese and/or grated Parmesan cheese also make tasty toppings.

 

Black Rice with Mango, Pomegranate and Avocado
Reproduced from The Silver Platter: Simple to Spectacular by Daniella Silver and Norene Gilletz, with permission from the copyright holders ArtScroll/Shaar Press Publications, LTD

Black Rice with Mango, Pomegranate and Avocado
Adapted from The Silver Platter: Simple to Spectacular by Daniella Silver and Norene Gilletz (ArtScroll)
Yields 6-8 servings

Dark, unique and unexpected, this fabulous dish will wow the guests at your next dinner party. The bright, tropical colors of the fruit contrast beautifully with the black rice, making a stunning presentation. 

Salad:
3 cups lightly salted water
1 1/2 cups black rice, rinsed and drained
2 ripe mangoes, peeled, pitted, and diced (about 2 cups)
3/4 cup pomegranate seeds
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 ripe Hass avocado

Dressing:
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pomegranate or orange juice
2 tablespoons honey or agave
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add rice; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 35–40 minutes. The rice should be tender but slightly chewy. Remove from heat; let stand, covered, for 10–15 minutes. Transfer to a large serving bowl; let cool.
2. Add mangoes, pomegranate seeds, scallions, and basil to the serving bowl.
3. Combine ingredients for dressing in a glass jar; seal tightly and shake well.
4. Shortly before serving, peel, pit, and dice avocado. Add avocado and dressing to rice mixture; toss gently to combine. Serve at room temperature.

Norene’s Notes
Royal Grains: In China, black rice was called “forbidden rice,” as it was considered the finest grain and served only to the royal family.
How to seed a pomegranate: Score around the middle of the pomegranate, but do not cut through. Twist to separate pomegranate into two halves. Invert one half in your palm over a bowl, seeds facing down. With a wooden spoon, firmly tap the skin several times to release the seeds into the bowl. Pick out and discard the white pith. Repeat with second pomegranate half. Seeds will keep fresh for 2–3 days in the fridge in a covered container.
Variation: Instead of mangoes, substitute 2 (11 oz/312 g) cans mandarin oranges, well-drained.

 

Leek and Goat Cheese Frittata
Adapted from The Silver Platter: Simple Elegance by Daniella Silver and Norene Gilletz (ArtScroll)
Yields 6 servings

2 tablespoons butter
3 large leeks, white and light green parts only, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tsp)
8 large eggs
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper
1⁄2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves or pinch dried thyme
4 oz goat cheese, crumbled

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat the bottom and sides of a 10-inch glass or ceramic quiche dish with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat butter over medium heat until melted and sizzling. Add leeks and garlic; sauté for 6–8 minutes, or until softened. Let cool slightly.
3. In a large bowl, whisk eggs together with salt, pepper, thyme, and goat cheese. Add leek mixture; stir gently to combine.
4. Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish. Bake, uncovered, for 30–35 minutes or until top is set and edges are golden brown. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Norene’s Notes
As-You-Like-It-Frittata: Add 1 red bell pepper or 1 cup mushrooms, thinly sliced. Instead of thyme, use 1 tablespoon basil. It is also delicious with 1 cup grated Cheddar or Swiss cheese. If desired, top frittata with sliced cherry tomatoes for the last 10 minutes of baking.
Frittata Muffins: Spray 12 muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray. Prepare frittata mixture as directed. Spoon about 1⁄3 cup mixture into each muffin cup. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 20–25 minutes, until set and golden. A perfect grab-and-go breakfast!
For a lower cholesterol version, substitute 2 egg whites or 1⁄4 cup egg substitute for each egg.

 

Chocolate Blueberry Blobs
Adapted from The Brain Boosting Diet: Feed Your Memory by Norene Gilletz and Edward Wein, Ph.D. (Whitecap)
Yields about 30 pieces

These blobs are “berry” easy to make and, as an added bonus, berries will boost your brainpower. Kids and adults alike love these scrumptious, gluten-free treats. What a decadent way to eat your blueberries!

2 cups fresh blueberries
8 oz good-quality dark chocolate, broken up into chunks

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Rinse blueberries and pat completely dry.
3. Meanwhile, place chocolate into a clean, dry bowl, and place it over a saucepan of simmering water. Melt over medium heat, stirring occasionally. (Alternatively, melt chocolate in a glass bowl in the microwave for 1 minute on medium power and stir well; microwave 30–60 seconds more.)
4. Let chocolate cool to lukewarm before gently mixing in blueberries with a rubber spatula. Continue gently mixing until berries are well-coated with chocolate.
5. Drop blobs of the chocolate mixture from a teaspoon onto the prepared baking sheet about 2 inches (5 cm) apart. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Store in the refrigerator for 1–2 days.

Norene’s Notes
Variation: Use a combination of equal parts blueberries and pomegranate arils.
Berry Important! Dry blueberries thoroughly before adding them to melted chocolate. If any moisture gets into the chocolate it will seize (get thick and lumpy). Don’t use frozen blueberries!
Dark Secret! Instead of dark chocolate, substitute 1 1/3 cups chocolate chips and 2 teaspoons canola or grapeseed oil.

Norene Gilletz is the leading author of kosher cookbooks in Canada. The author of 13 cookbooks is a food writer, food manufacturer, consultant, spokesperson, cooking instructor, lecturer, cookbook editor, and now a podcaster! Norene’s motto is “Food that’s good for you should taste good!” For more information, visit her website at www.gourmania.com.

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This article was featured in Jewish Action Summer 2019.
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