Seasonal summer recipes are the freshest and most beautiful way to eat all summer. I like to keep it simple and somewhat healthy and create fast meals that everyone will request over and over again. Add fresh breads or fluffy pita to any of these dishes to make them extra filling. If possible, use home-grown tomatoes or heirloom tomatoes, basil, apricots, and other seasonal ingredients that are freshly picked from local markets, farm stands, or outdoor markets.

Fresh Tomato and Eggplant Pasta

Photo by Food Network

Serves 5

This pasta dish is extra special because I use home-grown or seasonal heirloom tomatoes from the market. They are so sweet they taste like fruit.

  • 8 ounces uncooked fusilli or penne pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped Japanese eggplant (from 1 eggplant) 1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 8 cloves, minced)
  • 2 pts. home-grown or heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved and divided
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 ½ tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 3 tablespoons fresh chopped fresh basil
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions in salted water. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid; drain pasta and green beans.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add eggplant, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic; cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Add half of tomatoes; cook until juices start to release, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Add wine and tomato paste; cook, stirring often, until most of the wine evaporates. Add pasta and beans; toss to combine. Add reserved pasta cooking liquid, a couple of tablespoons at a time, if mixture is too dry. Stir in remaining tomatoes, vinegar, and salt. Divide pasta mixture among 4 bowls. Dollop evenly with ricotta, basil, and pepper.

Summertime Asian Turkey Burgers with Soy Ginger Mayonnaise

Photo by Lee Harrelson

Serves 4

Turkey is like a blank canvas, it takes whatever flavors and colors you provide and can become something extra special. This flavor profile is a perfect pairing for ground turkey, it's robust and savory and not overwhelming. These are especially nice in the summer because they are not as heavy as beef burgers. I serve the turkey burgers topped with the soy mayonnaise for added complimentary flavor.

  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon sriracha or crushed red pepper
  • 1 pound ground turkey breast
  • 4 (1 1/2-ounce) whole wheat hamburger buns or potato buns

Preheat an outdoor gas grill to 375°F. Grease grill grates.

In a large bowl, combine green onions, orange juice, soy sauce, ginger, garlic and sriracha. Mix well. Add turkey and mix gently until combined. Divide turkey mixture into 4 equal portions, shaping each into a 3/4-inch-thick patty. Place patties on grill, cover grill and cook about 5 minutes on each side or until done.

Serve burgers on toasted buns with soy mayonnaise, and any other toppings of your choice.

Soy Ginger Mayonnaise

Makes 1 ½ cups

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise (you can use reduced-fat mayonnaise if you prefer)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon fresh orange juice or lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover; refrigerate.

Poached Salmon with Apricot Salsa

Serves 6

This salsa can be made with apricots, peaches, plums, or tomatoes. It's a cooked salsa but has wonderful fresh summer ingredients. I make extra and serve it with grilled chicken, atop a salad, or alongside any BBQ’d fish or baked fish too. Poached salmon can be made a few days before serving so it’s a great idea as a Shabbos appetizer.

Salmon:

  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 (4-ounce) boneless, skinless salmon fillets (use bigger pieces if serving as an entree)

To prepare the salmon: Combine water, wine, lemon juice, bay leaf and salt in a large skillet with 3-inch sides, and bring to a boil over high heat. Gently add salmon fillets and reduce to a bare simmer. Cook just until the fillets are opaque, about 5 minutes. Turn off heat and leave salmon in the cooking liquid until cool enough to handle, but still warm, about 5 minutes. Remove salmon from liquid with a slotted spatula, careful to keep pieces intact.

Serve salmon at room temperature or chilled, with chilled salsa on top.

Apricot Salsa

Makes about 1 ½ cups

  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ½ cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 ½ lbs apricots, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed and seeded, chopped
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh mint
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest

Bring juice to a boil in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat; cook until slightly darkened and syrupy, 5-8 minutes. Add vinegar and salt, stirring until salt is dissolved. Return to a boil and add apricots, garlic, jalapeño, and onion; reduce heat to medium and cover. Cook until apricots begin to break down and onions are tender, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Stir in mint, cilantro and lime zest. Refrigerate until chilled.

Romaine Pesto Salad with Fresh Tomatoes and Grilled Chicken

Photo by Mel’s Kitchen

Serves 6 - 8

My NYC friends first gave me this recipe. I changed it up a bit, and now make it with sundried tomatoes, hearts of palm, grilled peaches or any other seasonal salad addition. The basic technique is the same, make the pesto, marinate the chicken, grill it (the original version uses poached chicken but I like grilled better), use the rest of the dressing in the scrumptious salad. Tasty and filling!

Pesto Dressing

  • 1 ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

Chicken

  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless, chicken cutlets, pounded thin
  • 3 tablespoons white wine
  • ½ cup pesto dressing, below

Salad

  • 2 cups arugula
  • 5 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup home-grown or heirloom tomatoes
  • ½ cup kalamata olives, pitted
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts

Place basil leaves, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and sugar in a bowl. With an immersion blender, puree until smooth. Remove ½ cup pesto and set aside.

Place chicken in a resealable bag. Add remaining pesto and massage to coat all chicken. Marinate for one hour or up to overnight.

Preheat a gas grill to 375°F. Grease grill grates. Alternatively, heat a grill pan. Grill chicken for about 4 minutes on each side. Remove from the grill and cool slightly or completely. When ready to assemble salad, slice chicken into strips.

In a large bowl or on a platter, mix arugula, romaine, tomatoes, olives and pine nuts. Add desired amount of reserved dressing and grilled chicken. Serve immediately.