Hold the Blintzes! Holiday Salad

As the Counting of the Omer comes to a climax and the summer heat begins to glow, we gather together with expectant hearts to feast on the nourishment of the Torah and the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

Each holiday custom helps us intentionally create spaces that connect our senses and emotions to cherished aspects of Shavu’ot.

We lavishly adorn our homes and congregations with fresh flowers, recounting the tradition that the Sinai desert responded to the giving of the Torah by blooming like the garden of Eden. The splendor of the foliage that surrounds our gatherings reminds us that the power of God’s Word causes even the driest parts of our hearts to be revived. We memorialize the Shavu’ot wave offering by making extra-large specialty loaves of challah. The sheer magnitude and uniqueness of the holiday offering spark in us a deepened sense of awe and gratitude.

No matter where you celebrate, be it at a festive community picnic, an all-night Torah study, or an intimate family meal, each table is sure to display copious amounts of dairy delights. The explanations for why we enjoy dairy on Shavu’ot are numerous and diverse. I, however, cherish the reasoning that just as a newborn is completely dependent on its mother’s milk, so too, we are completely dependent on the nourishing milk we receive from the Torah.

While cheesecakes, blintzes, and ice-cream sundaes may be offered all around, I’d like to offer a healthy, no-fuss, gourmet salad that can also serve as edible art and will make your taste buds dance with glee. This cantaloupe caprese salad is a modern spin on the traditional caprese salad and uses only four ingredients. It requires zero cooking and unabashedly capitalizes on the sunny flavors and vibrant colors of summer.

The sweetness of juicy cantaloupe paired with the peppery sweet note of basil alongside soft and salty mozzarella is simply a marvel in each bite. To take it over the top, you can add a drizzle of balsamic reduction to add a depth of sweet-and-sour tang. No matter who joins your table in celebration this year, you will be sure to hear requests for this vibrant salad again and again!

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe cantaloupe, peeled, seeded, and sliced into half-inch pieces
  • 1 16-oz. log of fresh mozzarella (pre-sliced is great)
  • 15-20 large, fresh basil leaves
  • Balsamic reduction (optional)

Directions

On a display platter of your choice, layer the cantaloupe, slices of mozzarella, and basil leaves in the same pattern until your plate is full.

If desired, a minute before you serve the salad, drizzle a steady stream of balsamic reduction on top. You can also leave the balsamic reduction on the side as an option for others to add it themselves. Please note: the longer the balsamic reduction sits, the less appealing it looks. Reserve it as a last-minute wow factor on your table.

Prep time: 20 minutes

Level: Easy

Serves: 4-6


First Fruits of Zion