Cool as a Cucumber


Needless to say, this summer’s heat has been oppressive. But Mother Nature’s wrath has yielded one benefit: very tasty fruit. Apparently, this summer’s early rains promoted growth. Then the intense heat, sun, and drought concentrated the flavors and sweetness in fruits such as berries, peaches, melons, grapes and tomatoes to produce a most extraordinary crop.

I have frozen several quarts of blueberries to save for the winter, and even frozen chopped-up cantaloupe and cherries for future smoothies and treats for my kitten, Abby (yes, she does eat cantaloupe every morning. She’ll even eat grapes, berries, and certain veggies, as long as I hand feed her).

These fruits can add wonderful flavor to any dish. Add berries to your cereal, peaches alongside your meat dish or salad, cucumbers on your sandwich. You can also make a cool soup with any of these fruits. It is so easy to get your “five cups per day” (which does indeed help prevent cancer, heart disease, as well as keeping you slim), as they can be a part of every meal and snack.

I have contacted a few local chefs for their ideas for keeping things cool, healthy, tasty and interesting:

Todd Gray of Equinox Restaurant’s Chilled Sweet Melon Soup with Minted Yogurt
Serves 6

• 1 sweet cantaloupe melon (such as a sweet dream), peeled, seeded, and cubed
• 1 cup prosecco
• 1 cup whole milk
• Pinch salt & pepper
• 2 cups small diced melons
For the crème fraiche
• 1/2 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
• 3 mint leaves
• 2 tarragon leaves
• 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
• Pinch salt & pepper

For the soup: Combine melon and prosecco in a bar blender, puree till smooth. Add milk and seasoning, blend quickly to incorporate, remove and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

For the Garnish: Brunoise or finely dice the herbs and combine herbs with yogurt. Pour chilled soup into bowls. Drizzle herbed yogurt on top and garnish with diced or Parisian scooped melons.

Laura Bonino’s Griffin Market Watermelon Salad
Serves 6-8

1 (5-pound) watermelon
1/2 cup blood orange
Extra virgin olive oil
20 medium fresh basil leaves

Cut the flesh from the melon and cut into 1 inch cubes, removing and discarding the seeds, and set aside. Tear the basil leaves into small pieces. In a large bowl, combine the melon, olive oil and basil. Lest rest in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before serving.

Chilled Cucumber Soup with Yogurt and Cilantro
From “Cooking with Nora” by Nora Pouillon
Serves 4

3 cups lowfat yogurt
3 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks
1 medium green pepper, washed, seeded, and cut into chunks
4-6 cloves of garlic, peeled
Juice of 1 lemon
Peel of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup cilantro leaves
1 jalapeno pepper with seeds, stemmed
1 teaspoon sea salt
Cilantro sprigs for garnish

Put the yogurt, cucumbers, green pepper, garlic, lemon juice and lemon peel, olive oil, cilantro and jalapeno in a blender. Puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt and refrigerate.

Pour the chilled soup into 4 bowls, garnish with cilantro.

Note from Nora: “Since the fruit I use is organic, I always use the skins. I zest or peel my lemons or limes with a vegetables peeler. Then I peel off the white pith from the fruit (you need a sharp paring knife) and put the whole lemon or lime and its peeled skin into the blender.”

Katherine Tallmadge’s Fresh Mexican Salsa
(From “Diet Simple: 192 Mental Tricks, Substitutions, Habits & Inspirations”)
Serves 22

Try this as a dip or accompaniment at your next party. It goes fast, so make plenty of it! You can also use it in scrambled eggs, tortillas or as a marinade or dressing. Throw it in plain yogurt or mashed avocado to make a dip. My measurements are the proportions I prefer, but you can vary any of the ingredients depending on your preferences.

1 large sweet “candy” onion (about 1/2 pound)
2 pounds fresh heirloom tomatoes, peeled, seeded and shopped (start with about 3 1/2 pounds. Use canned tomatoes, if good tomatoes aren’t available)
3-4 jalapeno peppers (1-2 ounces)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
3-4 tablespoons fresh lime juice (1-2 limes)

Add the onion to the tomatoes. Finely chop 2 of the jalapeno peppers to start with. Taste. If you desire more heat, add more jalapenos. Mix in the cilantro. Add the salt depending on your taste. Mix in the lime juice.

Susan Belsinger’s Simple Fruit Smoothie
Serves 2

About 1 to 1 1/2 cups fruit, such as peaches and berries, cut into chunks
1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
1 cup cold soy milk
3 to 5 ice cubes
2 drops pure vanilla extract

Put the fruit in the blender. Drizzle the syrup or honey over it. Add the ice cubes. Pour the soymilk over all and add the vanilla. Blend until pureed and frothy. Serve immediately in a tall glass with a straw.

Carol Cutler’s Berry Granita
(From “Diet Simple”)
Serves 8

Grated zest and juice of one orange
2 teaspoons orange liqueur
20 ounces frozen berries (or other fruit)
Sugar or sweetener to taste (optional)
8 mint sprigs (optional)

Place berries in freezer until frozen. Put 8 small sherbet dishes in the refrigerator to chill. Put frozen berries into a food processor. Add the orange zest, juice, and liqueur. Pulse for about 30 seconds to break up the chunks, then process on high until the mixture is smooth. Taste and adjust for sweetness, if necessary. When the mixture is pureed, spoon immediately into the chilled dishes and place in the freezer. If the granite has been frozen for more than 6 hours, remove it from the freezer 10 minutes before serving time. If desired, decorate with the mint sprigs.

Katherine Tallmadge, M.A., R.D. will customize an easy, enjoyable wellness, nutrition, weight loss, athletic or medical nutrition therapy program for you, your family or your company. She is the author of “Diet Simple: 192 Mental Tricks, Substitutions, Habits & Inspirations,” and national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. Contact her at or 202-833-0353. Mention this Georgetowner article and get 20 percent off your first consultation.

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