Stick to the rainbow


There is an old Broadway song that urges us to “Look to the Rainbow” — for love, luck and a happy life. Another one tells us that beyond the rainbow is a place where dreams come true.

Today, we think of the rainbow in another, less romantic — but very important — way. Nutritionists urge us eat a rainbow of colors every day to ensure our health and well-being. While at first thought we may think that blue foods are only found in blue raspberry sno-cones, the blues of the food rainbow are those gorgeous blueberries, purple cabbages and eggplants that are so striking this time of year. Red is found in beautiful lycopene-filled summer tomatoes and peppers, strawberries and raspberries. Orange is found in beta-carotene-rich carrots and tangerines, and pink in Vitamin C-rich grapefruits. It’s hard to count the number of fruits and vegetables that are green, from melons and cabbages to broccoli and every shade in between. Yellow wax beans and summer squash, bananas, peaches, and apricots are part of the golden band of color that completes the rainbow.

Perhaps the real pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is in the health benefits we can gain from eating richly and beautifully colored foods every day. There’s no easier time to do this than in the summer. The farm stands are filled to bursting with harvests of the best summer fruits and vegetables. Deep black-red cherries are one of my favorite summer treats, but nothing compares to a mouthwatering, juice-dripping, sun-warmed peach. Sweet and sour plums, sweet melons, and vegetables too numerous to count make eating in the summer the perfect time to get back on track and eat the foods from the earth that are so good for us.

As the song says, “look to the rainbow” for a healthy diet, during the summer and all year round.

Rainbow Gazpacho with a Twist (Pareve) 

The twist here is the bread, which adds texture and thickens the soup. For a very different flavor, try seedless rye or black bread. Adjust measurements to taste.

3 lbs. ripe tomatoes

1 green or red bell pepper

2 stalks celery

1 small cucumber, peeled and seeded

1/2 small purple or Vidalia onion

1 cup roasted corn kernels

2 slices French bread, crusts removed

2 cloves garlic, minced (more to taste)

4 Tbsp. olive oil

3 Tbsp. garlic wine vinegar

1 tsp. sugar (scant)

1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 Tbsp. fresh minced chives

1 to 2 Tbsp. fresh minced parsley

pinch salt

pinch white pepper

1 to 3 cups tomato juice

OPTIONAL: Tabasco sauce to taste

For Garnish:

1 cup garlic croutons

1 small cucumber, seeded and chopped

1 small purple onion, finely minced

1/2 red pepper, seeded and finely chopped

1/2 green pepper, seeded and finely chopped

Bite-sized pieces of watermelon

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and lightly grease the foil. Set aside.

Bring a pot of water to a boil. 

Slice off the kernels from leftover corn on the cob. Separate them and place on an oiled, foil-lined cookie sheet. Roast in the oven for about 5 to 8 minutes, or until some of the kernels turn brown in places. Remove from the oven and let cool. 

Peel the tomatoes by dropping them, a few at a time, into the pot of boiling water. When the skin splits, remove them with a slotted spoon and drop them into a bowl of ice water. They will peel very easily. 

Place the peppers in a food processor and process until evenly chopped. Add the celery, cucumber garlic and onion and pulse a few times until desired consistency. 

Cut the tomatoes in half and remove the core and some, but not all of the seeds. Add the tomatoes to the processor and process until desired consistency.

Add the bread and process with a few pulses. Add the oil, vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, salt and pepper and process again until you have the consistency you like, either smooth or chunky. Place in a large container and add the roasted corn kernels, the chives and parsley. Season with hot sauce to taste and chill for several hours.

Serve with bowls of the different garnishes so people can take what they want. Serves 4 to 8.

Rainbow Slaw with Lemon-Orange Dressing (Pareve) 

3 Tbsp. lemon juice

3 Tbsp. orange juice

1 tsp. grated orange rind

1 tsp. grated lemon rind

5 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp. cold water

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 tsp. salt (more, to taste)

2 cups shredded purple cabbage

3 cups shredded green cabbage

2 cups shredded carrots

1 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper

In a large bowl, whisk together all the ingredients except the cabbages, carrots and pepper. In another bowl, toss the cabbages, carrots, and pepper. Add the dressing, toss well and serve. This recipe can easily be doubled for a large crowd.

Tomatoes Stuffed With Spinach and Feta Cheese (Dairy) 

6 large ripe tomatoes

8 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

10 oz. baby spinach leaves, washed and drained

1 cup fresh toasted breadcrumbs

4 large shallots, minced

4 Tbsp. olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

fresh basil

3 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

Heat a large skillet and add a bit more than half the olive oil. Add the shallots and stir until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté another minute. Set aside.

Place the breadcrumbs on a cookie sheet and heat in a 350-degree oven for about 3 to 5 minutes until slightly toasted. Watch closely to avoid burning. Set aside to cool.

Roll up several basil leaves, cigarette style and then slice into thin strips.

Chop or tear the spinach leaves into bite-sized pieces and place in a bowl. Mix in the feta cheese and half the garlic shallot mixture. Add half the breadcrumbs and mix well. Add the basil and mix.

Cut off the top quarter of the tomato and scoop out the seeds. Place the tomatoes in a well-oiled glass or ceramic baking dish. Spoon the filling into the tomatoes and pack firmly. 

Add the rest of the olive oil to the skillet with the remaining garlic and shallots. Stir well. Turn off the heat, add the remaining breadcrumbs and mix well. Add the Parmesan cheese and mix quickly to keep the cheese from melting. Spoon over the tomatoes, gently mounding the topping. Bake at 250 degrees until lightly golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Dilled Salmon on the Grill (Pareve) 

1-1/2 lbs. salmon fillet

2 long sprigs fresh dill

1 lemon thinly sliced 

1 Tbsp. capers, washed and drained

splash white wine (optional)

drizzle olive oil

Cooking oil spray or oil to prevent sticking

Preheat the grill to medium high heat. Take a large piece of heavy duty aluminum foil. Spray the foil or coat it with oil using a paper towel.

Place the fish in the center of the foil. Place the dill sprigs on the fish and cover with the lemon slices. Scatter the capers over that and drizzle with about a tablespoon of white wine and a tablespoon of olive oil. 

Fold the edges of the foil together and then fold up the ends to make a sealed packet. Use a pin or cake tester to poke 1 to 2 small holes in the top to release steam. Place the packet on a barbecue fish tray or other tray for the grill and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the tray with potholders and slide the foil packet onto a plate. The foil may puff up as it fills with steam, so allow it to cool for a few minutes and be very careful when opening the foil. I poke it with a fork before I open it. 

Remove the dill and lemon slices and serve the salmon using a spoon to pour some of the liquid over the fish. Serve with wild rice and a cool salad for a great, low-fat meal.  

Lemon Garlic Grilled Chicken (Meat)

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut in half

2 large cloves Elephant Garlic, or 3 cloves regular garlic

Juice of 1 or 2 lemons, about 2/3 cup

Grated lemon zest from 1 lemon

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup Canola oil 

Minced parsley

Elephant garlic has a milder and sweeter taste than regular garlic. It is perfect for this dish. Grate the elephant garlic, using the larger size holes of a microplane grater, into a large non-reactive bowl. Glass or ceramic is fine.

Grate the lemon zest the same way into the same bowl.

Juice the two lemons and mix with the garlic and zest. Add the oils and mix until well blended. The mixture will look creamy with bits of bright yellow zest. Remove about a third of a cup of the marinade and set aside. Add the chicken pieces, turn to coat, and let marinate for about 10 minutes. 

Using a clean brush, brush a small spoonful of the marinade that was set aside on each piece of chicken immediately as it come off the hot grill. Garnish with lemon slices and fresh parsley. Allow 1 or 2 pieces per person, depending on size. Serves 6 to 10.