Summertime Specialties





With the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, I am always inspired to try out new recipes during summer. I hope you will be, too!

Salmon Tartar
6 appetizer servings

I like to serve this dish with radishes and cucumbers, particularly julienned daikon (a mild-flavored Japanese radish) and seeded, sliced Kirby cucumbers. You can, of course, use any other vegetables.

1 1/2 pounds very fresh center-cut salmon fillet, skinned
2 scallions, including green parts, minced
1 generous tablespoon pure Oriental sesame oil
2 tablespoons Kikkoman Lite Soy Sauce, approximately
1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar, approximately
1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Carefully pick over salmon and remove any bones. (Tweezers work well.) Dice salmon and place into a bowl.

Add all the remaining ingredients. Mix well and season to taste.

To Serve:
Use a 1/2-cup measuring cup to divide and shape the portions evenly.

Chickpea and Bulgur Salad
8 servings

This nutritious salad requires no cooking, and the ingredients, all of which are pareve, are easily available. I usually serve it with poultry or meat, along with other salads.

1 cup coarse bulgur wheat
1 cup boiling water
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 Kirby cucumbers, ends trimmed, seeded and cubed
2 scallions, including green parts, thinly sliced
1 cup loosely packed Italian parsley, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, mashed to a paste with 1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons lemon juice, approximately
1 teaspoon paprika
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Place bulgur in a medium bowl and pour boiling water over it. Let stand 20-30 minutes, until the bulgur is almost tender and the water is absorbed. If all the water has not been absorbed, drain in a sieve.

Place bulgur in a bowl. Add chickpeas, olive oil, cucumbers, scallions, parsley and garlic.

Season to taste with lemon juice, paprika, salt and pepper.

If you have a problem digesting raw garlic, wrap the unpeeled cloves in foil and bake in a toaster oven at 350°, until tender. Squeeze the pulp and add to the salad.

Young summer Kirby cucumbers do not require peeling, but be sure to wash them well.

Pasta with Tomatoes and Arugula
4 servings as a main course
6 servings as an appetizer

This convenient, easy-to-make pasta sauce is great for the hot summer months.

1/4 cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 red onion, coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
8 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and cubed
1 bunch arugula, leaves torn into large pieces
1 pound dried imported pasta, such as spaghetti or penne
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, approximately

Bring 5 quarts of water to a rolling boil in a large covered pot. Immediately add 2 tablespoons salt and all the pasta; stir well. Boil briskly, uncovered, for about 5 minutes, or until pasta is al dente (tender but firm to the bite). Drain pasta well in a colander.

Heat olive oil in a small skillet. Add garlic, onion and red pepper flakes, and sauté over low heat until onion is soft. Cool.

Transfer cooked vegetables to a large bowl and add tomatoes and arugula. Let stand at room temperature for about an hour.

Toss sauce over pasta. Season to taste with salt, pepper and vinegar.

To skin tomatoes, drop them into boiling water, then bring the water back to a boil. Drain and peel.

Tomato Soup
Approximately 4 servings

I like to serve this simple, delicious soup either hot or at room temperature. This dish is ideal in the summer when tomatoes are most flavorful.

2 pounds ripe tomatoes, rinsed and cut into large pieces
3 garlic cloves, sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
A few sprigs of thyme, plus some petals for garnish
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon sugar

Place all ingredients in a heavy saucepan with lid.

Bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat until the tomatoes are very soft, about 10 minutes. Discard the thyme and pass the soup through the medium blade of a food mill.

Season with salt, pepper and sugar. Garnish with thyme.

The number of soup portions will depend on the juiciness of the tomatoes.

Tuscan Cake
16 servings

This cake, if refrigerated, improves over time. It’s a great summer buffet cake that can be served either alone or with sorbets, ice crea or fruits. It’s equally good pareve or dairy.

16 tablespoons (8 ounces) unsalted butter or margarine
1/4 ounce active dry yeast
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups sugar
Zest and juice of 1 lemon (3 tablespoons, approximately)
2 1/2 cups unbleached flour
3 ounces pine nuts

Preheat oven to 350°.

Grease a 12-inch springform pan with butter or margarine and line with wax paper. Dust pan lightly and evenly with flour.

Melt butter or margarine in small saucepan. Cool until lukewarm, then stir in yeast. Set aside.

Beat eggs with a balloon whisk in an electric mixer at medium speed, adding sugar gradually until the eggs are pale yellow.

Using a rubber spatula, add the yeast to the egg mixture. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice and flour and mix well. Pour into the prepared pan and scatter pine nuts on top.

Bake for 40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out dry. Cool on a wire rack.

Leftover cake can be toasted.

Helen Nash is the author of Kosher Cuisine (New Jersey, 1995) and Helen Nash’s Kosher Kitchen (New Jersey, 2000). She lives in New York City.

This article was featured in the Summer 2008 issue of Jewish Action.
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