The kids are barely back in school, the air conditioning is still full blast … and Rosh HaShanah is around the corner.
This year the holiday comes early in the calendar year, with the first night falling on Sept. 8. It might feel like a rush, but the quick-approaching date has an extra benefit. The fresh, seasonal and delicious fruits and vegetables that arrive with the summer heat are still around.
“[Rosh HaShanah] is really coming at the tail end of summer,” said Jamie Geller, cookbook author and “Chief Foodie Officer” at Kosher.com. “It would only make sense to change our cooking style.”
So while fresh zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelons and berries abound in supermarkets, think about bringing the colorful produce to your holiday table. “Tomatoes are really big and really beautiful right now,” said Geller, who suggests an Italian tomato salad, a fresh Israeli salad or simple broiled tomatoes with a breadcrumb topping. “They’re so flavorful, so robust — you don’t have to do much to fuss with them.”
Geller also recommends bringing out the barbecue for one last time this season. “It’s still nice to be out on the grill this time of year,” she said, recommending grilled chicken with a spice rub or a fruit salsa, and grilled zucchini and onions.
And zucchini, one of summer’s most prolific vegetables (though actually a fruit), is also a perfect substitute for broccoli in kugels and pies according to Geller.
And, she says, don’t be afraid to mix up your tried and tested salads and side dishes, swapping out dried fruits and raisins for fresh sliced grapes or diced mango.
Ultimately, says Geller, “less is more. Let these fresh fruit and vegetables speak for themselves.”
Geller’s first cookbook, “Quick and Kosher: Recipes From the Bride Who Knew Nothing” (Feldheim) came out in 2007. Her next book “Quick and Kosher: Meals in Minutes” is due out in November.
Adapted from Jamie Geller’ “Quick and Kosher”
Note: These two recipes offer distinct options – one captures the freshness of the produce in a soup that can be prepared and frozen in advance, the other utilizes fresh vegetables in their natural state.
Serves about 8
This recipe can be made with yellow summer squash, which is still available, or butternut squash, which is just coming onto shelves. The terms “winter” and “summer” squash refer to the shelf life of the fruits, and not their harvest seasons.
1 medium onion
2 pounds peeled and cubed squash
(remove seeds of butternut variety)
6 cups water
1 cup coconut milk
½ cup white wine
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
or 1 teaspoon
Place all ingredients in a 6-quart pot. Cover and bring to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer and let cool for 30 to 40 minutes.
Mash the squash with a fork or potato masher and continue to cook for 10 minutes.
For an extra silky texture, puree the soup in batches in a blender or food processor.
CALIFORNIA AVOCADO SALAD
Serves 6 to 8
This recipe is all about showcasing the perfect summer produce – the best of which are juicy tomatoes and creamy avocados. You can use canned corn in this recipe, or buy fresh and cut the kernels off yourself.
2 cans sweet corn, drained
or about 4 corn husks,
the kernels sliced off and blanched
for about 5 minutes
2 ripe avocados, peeled,
pitted and diced
½ can hearts of palm,
drained and diced
15 grape tomatoes, halved
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons ume plum vinegar
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
Place all the ingredients in a bowl and toss lightly, being careful not to crush the avocado.
Serve at room temperature.