By Sally Sampson
This has been a very difficult year—in terms of the weather—in Massachusetts. There were warm days in the winter and very cold days in the spring. It felt risky to put away down coats and quilts and bring out the flip-flops. And even as late as May, it looked like the cold air would never come to an end, which made the thought of cold soups, salads, and tropical fruits uninviting, if not positively unappetizing.
But now, not only have we survived and progressed past an erratic winter, but even the spring has come and gone, without the threat of a snowstorm. I’m guessing that we’re heading for a very hot summer—in which case, there will be days you won’t want to turn your oven on.
Chilled Strawberry Soup
Although this is perfect with strawberries, feel free to experiment with mangoes, peaches, melons, or any combination of fresh fruits.
3 cups fresh or frozen strawberries, stemmed and hulled
2 cups buttermilk or 1 cup buttermilk and 1 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the garnish:
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup fresh raspberries
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1. Put the strawberries in a blender or the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse—at first to chop and then process until smooth. Gradually add the buttermilk, honey, and vanilla.
2. Transfer to a large serving bowl, cover and refrigerate about 1 hour or until chilled. Garnish with the berries and fresh mint.
The classic vegetable and tomato soup enlivened with tropical fruits, Gazpacho is perfect for a hot summer meal. If you can buy great croutons or have some fresh ones on hand, serve the Gazpacho with a small handful in each bowl.
1 red bell pepper, cored and diced
1 English cucumber, diced
4 scallions, including greens, trimmed and thinly sliced at an angle
2 ripe tomatoes, cored and diced
1 ripe avocado, diced
1 ripe mango, diced
3/4 cup pineapple juice, or more to taste
2 cups tomato or V8 juice, or more to taste
1/4-1/2 cup red wine vinegar, depending upon desired tartness
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or cilantro leaves
Hot sauce to taste
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
1. Put all the ingredients in a large serving bowl and mix. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
2. If you want a smoother soup, put half or all of the soup in a blender or a food processor fitted with a steel blade and blend until desired consistency.
Greek Salad with Romaine
Usually served on a bed of iceberg that never gets eaten, this rendition of Greek Salad nixes the iceberg and mixes in crispy romaine for a mixed rather than a composed salad.
1 head Romaine lettuce, (discard the dark leaves) washed and torn
1 English cucumber, cubed
2 ripe tomatoes, cored and cubed
1 small red or yellow bell pepper, cubed
1 ripe avocado, cubed
1/2 pound feta cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried Greek oregano
1-2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
1. Put the lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, bell pepper, and avocado in a large serving bowl and sprinkle with the cheese, mint, and oregano.
2. Put the garlic, oil, and lemon juice in a small bowl, mix well, and drizzle over the salad. Serve right away.
Berry Banana Frozen Yogurt
Like fruit soup, this frozen yogurt can be experimented with. The banana is essential for consistency, but exchange the berries for other ripe fruits.
3 slightly over-ripe bananas, thinly sliced and frozen
3 cups frozen raspberries, strawberries, or blueberries
1 1/2 cup plain yogurt
1. Put the frozen bananas and berries in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until smooth.
2. Gradually add yogurt and process until completely incorporated. Serve right away.
Basically applesauce with a kick, apple bananasauce can be eaten for breakfast, dessert, or an afternoon snack.
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
2-3 over-ripe bananas, sliced
3 tablespoons chopped walnuts or pecans, toasted
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon or nutmeg
1. Put the apples, bananas, walnuts, and cinnamon in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until smooth. Serve right away or cover and refrigerate up to three days.