To Grill or Not to Grill

Yes, I know it’s grilling season. But years ago our grill’s time was up. Now I use a grill pan on the stove and my marvelous Breville oven to beat the summer heat.

So here are some non grilling summer recipes many of which you can adapt if you prefer to cook  outdoors.

July 15Pineapple-Cucumber-Gazpacho-Start with a cold soup like pineapple gazpacho (See: Cool Food for a Hot Day, Jun 26, 2016). You’ll need a good knife and some kind of blender to puree the mixture. It goes together quickly especially if you buy a precut pineapple. And it can be as spicy as you wish with the addition of extra jalepeno. Or try a little of Trader Joe’s Chili Lime seasoning to spice up the soup. Pomegranate seeds or plump blueberries might make a colorful garnish.

Another good starter is watermelon gazpacho. Rita Singer raves about this soup which hits most of the flavor notes with an eclectic combination of ingredients. It’s basically a liquid version of the popular watermelon/ feta cheese summer salad.  Like most cold soups, preparation is simple: bowls, a knife and a blending tool. This soup is also a good way to use up the mint that seems to take over the garden or that too big bargain watermelon.

Watermelon Gazpacho with Feta and Mint  (Serves 4)

July watermelonIngredients
16 oz cubed, seedless watermelon, + extra bite-sized cubes for garnish
2 Roma tomatoes, hulled and quartered
1/2 cucumber, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons sliced shallots
1/2 Serrano chile (a whole one if you like heat; none if you don’t)
4 fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
1 1/2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
2 tablespoons high-quality olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
4 ounces fresh feta, crumbled
2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped


  1. Cut watermelon into cubes, reserving bite-sized pieces for garnish.
  2. Hull and quarter tomatoes. Add them to a separate bowl along with cucumber, shallots, and (optional) Serrano chile.
  3. Pour vinegar over vegetables and let them soak for about 10 -15 minutes, stirring once or twice so everything gets immersed. This helps bring out flavor .
  4. Add marinated vegetables and basil leaves to a food processor and pulse until well blended. (The mixture should look like a finely chopped salsa).
  5. Add three quarters of watermelon cubes, plus olive oil, salt, and pepper, and pulse again until completely puréed.
  6. Add last of watermelon cubes and pulse until soup has reached your desired consistency. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and/or pepper if needed.
  7. If the watermelon wasn’t chilled before making the soup, put the gazpacho in the refrigerator until chilled, about 30 to 60 minutes.
  8. When ready to serve, place the reserved watermelon cubes into four bowls and ladle the gazpacho over them. Sprinkle the crumbled feta over the soup, and finish with a sprinkle of the chopped mint. Serve immediately and enjoy!

A sweet salad can be another good starter for a summer meal or an accompaniment to a protein, Strawberries provide vibrant color but firm peaches, mango or even watermelon would be just as tasty and pretty.

July 15strawberry-spinach-salad-Strawberry Feta Salad (Serves 3-4)


6 ounces baby spinach or arugula
1 cup sliced strawberries or other sweet, firm fruit
1/4 cup red onion, sliced thin
1/2 cup pecans (optional)
1/4 cup crumbled feta, bleu or goat cheese

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar


  1. Place spinach or arugula in a bowl.
  2. Layer fruit and pecans.
  3. Place cheese on top
  4. Mix dressing ingredients until well combined.
  5. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss.

Hint: A touch of mustard added to the dressing will help it emulsify.

To help the dressing mix more evenly, drizzle it around the edges of the bowl and toss from

outside in.

Round out the meal with planks of zucchini brushed with herbs and olive oil and a piece of fish or chicken breast brushed with pomegranate molasses or soy sauce and honey, maple syrup or agave.  Grill the fish or roast it (400 degrees for about 10 minutes per inch, then a couple of minutes under the broiler)  Cook marinated boneless chicken breast quickly in a grill pan for just a few minutes per side.

If you are a little more ambitious, try this recent New York Times recipe, I have streamlined the process a bit. While the original recipe uses the oven, this chicken could easily be cooked on the grill as could the zucchini. It’s very easily doubled. The pan juices are good with rice or another grain.

July chickenSheet Pan Chicken with Zucchini and Basil  (serves 2-3)


1 3/4 pounds, bone-in, skin on chicken thighs and drumsticks
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, cracked (optional)
1 1/4 pounds zucchini, cut into 1 inch chunks (about 5 cups)
2 fat garlic cloves, finely grated, minced or pressed or use jarred garlic paste.
2 teaspoon dried mint or oregano (or 2 tablespoons fresh)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus some for serving
3 tablespoons olive oil
Lemon wedges for serving


  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Pat chicken dry and season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
  3. Combine garlic, mint or oregano, red pepper, optional coriander. Whisk in oil.
  4. Dump in chicken and zucchini and (using your hands) coat the chicken with the herb/oil mix.
  5. Spread the chicken and zucchini in a single layer on a sheet pan and roast until cooked through, anywhere from 40-60 minutes depending on size of chicken pieces. Internal temperature should be about 165 degrees.
  6. Remove from oven and squeeze a lemon wedge over everything. Garnish with fresh basil.
  7. If desired, serve with additional lemon wedges and extra red pepper.
  8. Accompany with fresh New Jersey corn.

Note: For firmer zucchini, add the zucchini about 20 minutes after the chicken.

Tomatoes, pepper, potatoes or other vegetables could also be added to the mix. Adjust the herb/oil mixture if there are more vegetables.

Remember, that you can search for a recipe on Just type your key word (ingredient or type of dish) into the search box at the head of the categories list. Everything with that word will show up, but it’s faster than searching back through each recipe article.

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Aileen Grossberg

Aileen Grossberg

Aileen Grossberg, a professional librarian, is a long-time congregant and serves as volunteer librarian for Shomrei's Lampert Library. The library, one of the best-kept secrets at Shomrei is used by the Rabbi, congregants, students and teachers of the JLC (Hebrew School) and Preschool. It's a tremendous resource completely supported by your donations and gifts. Aileen also heads the Shomrei Caterers, the in-house food preparation group. Can there be any better combination…good food and good books!
Aileen Grossberg

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