Sumptuous Summer Fare

When most people think of summer, they think of cold soups and barbecues. Here are some of my favorite summer recipes, most of which don’t require much cooking.

10 servings

Perfect for the summer, this popular cold soup made with raw vegetables can be made as spicy and as colorful as you’d like. It is quite refreshing on hot summer days and it keeps very well.

2 slices whole wheat bread, cut into small pieces
1 small red onion, cubed
2 cloves garlic, peeled and cubed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and cubed
1 pound ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeded, quartered
2 red bell peppers, seeded and cubed
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded, cubed
3 cups tomato juice, approximately
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, approximately
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Tabasco (optional)

Cucumbers, peeled, finely cubed
Tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely cubed
Bell pepper, any color, finely cubed
Whole wheat croutons
Chives, chopped

In batches, place all ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth. Chill. Season well and adjust consistency as needed with extra tomato juice. Serve with condiments of your choice.

Cube whole wheat bread into small pieces and bake until brown in an oven preheated to 500°.

Have extra tomato juice on hand. The soup tends to get thicker with time because of the bread.

Tomato Soup with Basil Garnish
10 servings

This recipe already appeared in Jewish Action in the summer of 2003. Since I am constantly refining my recipes, I am reintroducing a quicker, easier version of the recipe.

The soup is equally good served hot or at room temperature, and it can be prepared ahead of time. The basil purée, which is a garnish but essential for both taste and overall appearance, can also be prepared ahead of time.

3 red bell peppers, seeded and cut into pieces
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 fresh red chili pepper or jalapeño pepper, seeded and cut into pieces
4 pounds fresh tomatoes, rinsed, seeded and cut into pieces
3 cups vegetable stock
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat olive oil in a heavy saucepan with a cover. Add the garlic and chili pepper and sauté for a few minutes over low heat. Add peppers, tomatoes and stock. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and cook gently, covered, for 20 minutes.

Cool the soup. Then, in batches, purée in a blender until smooth. Strain the soup in batches using a mesh sieve, pushing on the solids with a ladle or spoon. Discard the residue. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4 cups loosely packed basil leaves
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

Place basil in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add olive oil and salt and purée until very smooth.

To Serve:
Ladle soup into a bowl, and place a teaspoon of basil purée in the center.

Pasta with Tuna
Photos: James Porter

Pasta with Tuna
6 servings as an appetizer
4 servings as a main course

A convenient dish for all seasons, this pasta recipe is easy to prepare and requires ingredients that are probably already in your pantry.

1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, mashed to a paste with 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
Juice of 1 lemon (approximately 3 tablespoons)
1 cup tightly packed Italian parsley, finely chopped
12 ounces canned tuna, drained and separated into large pieces
Freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt

1 pound dried, imported spaghetti

Combine sauce ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.
Bring 5 quarts of water to a rolling boil in a large covered pot. Add 2 tablespoons salt and all the pasta at once; stir well. Boil briskly, uncovered, for about 5 minutes or until pasta is al dente (tender but firm). Drain in a colander and add to the sauce. Mix well and season to taste with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature.

Barbecued or Broiled Chicken
4 servings

I prefer to barbecue this chicken, but broiling it is also a good option.

1 3 ¼ – 4 pound roasting chicken

Juice of 1 1/2 limes (approximately 3 tablespoons)
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
A few sprigs fresh thyme

Cut chicken into 8 serving pieces. Remove the backbone and wing tips. (The butcher can do this for you.) Place chicken in a glass or ceramic dish; salt and pepper lightly.

Combine marinade and pour over chicken. Refrigerate for a couple of hours. Bring chicken back to room temperature before cooking.

Preheat barbecue or broiler. Line broiler pan with foil and place chicken parts, skin side down, on it. Broil close to the heat source for 10 minutes, turn over, lower the rack and broil for another 8-10 minutes. The chicken skin should be brown and the dark meat should be done.

Follow the same instructions for barbecuing.

Mini Dried Fruit Truffles

Mini Dried Fruit Truffles
Makes approximately 4 dozen

No baking is required for these nutritious mini bites, which make a great snack. Refrigerated or frozen, these truffles keep very well placed in a plastic container with wax paper between each layer.

4 ounces dried apricots
4 ounces walnuts
4 ounces pitted dates
4 ounces currants
2 tablespoons apple juice
Powdered sugar for dusting

Place apricots in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add nuts and do the same. Add dates and repeat. Lastly, add currants and pulse, adding apple juice until the mixture sticks together. Form teaspoons of the mixture into mini balls. Before serving, dust lightly with powdered sugar.

You should use California apricots, not the less-sweet Turkish ones.

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 2007 issue of Jewish Action.
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