In the words of a song, “Summer’s here and the time is right…” I’m not talking about dancing in the streets, although you might want to do that too. In this case the time is right for no-cook summer eats. From a vintage Hoosier sandwich, to cold soup, to refreshing dessert — you can keep your cool and chill out no matter how hot it gets outside.
Summertime Tomato Sandwich
recipe by me (inspired by great grandma on the farm)
- The Bread: The quintessential summer sandwich in the Hoosier state is made with fresh vine-ripened tomatoes. When I grew up back in the 50s, the conveyance was squishy white wonder bread. Nowadays I like my tomato sandwich on something with more texture and flavor like a good artisan wheat or sourdough.
- The Tomatoes: As for tomatoes, big red beefsteaks, yellow low acid, pretty green zebra, or any variety is great just as long as they are ripe and local. Season simply with salt and pepper, or add a little extra nuance with a sprinkle of garlic powder or some fresh herbs like basil or thyme.
- The Rest: You could stop there if you’re a tomato purist, but the traditional sandwich of my childhood was slathered in mayo. I still find that to be a pretty good counterpoint to the fresh sweet tomato flavor. But you could also jazz it up with a more sophisticated aioli or just add to the mayo with ingredients like pesto or hot sauce. Don’t overdo it though – you want those tomatoes to shine.
Chilled Melon Soup with Coconut Cilantro Pesto
For the Soup:
- 6 cups melon chunks (cantaloupe or honeydew)
- ½ cup well-stirred coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons light honey, or to taste
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice
- 1 teaspoon salt
For the Pesto:
- 6 tablespoons peeled and finely grated fresh ginger
- 4 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped serrano chile, or to taste
- 2 tablespoons dried unsweetened coconut or sweetened flaked coconut
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups firmly packed, coarsely chopped cilantro leaves
- For the Soup: Puree the melon in a blender. Add the coconut milk, honey, lime juice, and salt. Pour into a bowl or large jar, cover, and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours.
- For the Pesto: Place (in the order listed), the lemon juice, sugar, ginger, garlic, chile, coconut, and salt, and 1 cup of the cilantro in a blender and blend just until ground; do not liquefy. Add the rest of the cilantro and blend just until the cilantro is incorporated and the pesto is a thick paste. Scrape into a bowl or glass jar, cover, and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
- Serve the soup cold, topped with a generous spoonful of the pesto. Makes 4 servings.
Cook’s Note: You can substitute fresh mint for cilantro to get a different but delicious flavor profile.
The exact recipe for the granita base can vary depending on how ripe your fruit is, how sweet or sour it is, and how much liquid it holds. Here’s the basic formula.
- 4 cups cubed fruit: You’ll need about 1 1/2 pounds of fruit total.
- 1/4 cup flavorful liquid: Lemon and lime are the standard, but you can use alcohol, juice, or kombucha here. Pick something with a little acidity that balances the fruit’s sweetness.
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar: You can add more or less depending on the sweetness of your fruit.
- A pinch of salt or spice: This is optional, but always a good idea.
- Whiz up the fruit! In a blender or food processor, purée the fruit with the juice and sugar. If your fruit is particularly dry, add a few tablespoons of water until the purée is about the thickness of a smoothie.
- Freeze in a flash. Pour the fruit purée into a shallow pan for freezing. I find granita freezes faster in a metal pan, so I reach for my 9×13 cake pan, but use what you’ve got. Freeze the granita for 30 to 45 minutes, until it’s just started to freeze on the top and sides of the pan.
- Fork the granita. Scrape the partially frozen granita with the tines of a fork, breaking up any large chunks. You’ll repeat this step two or three times over the course of freezing.
- Freeze again before serving. Return the granita pan to the freezer for a total of 4 hours before serving. That’s it!