Pascale’s Kitchen: Light and easy summer dishes

Every summer, I set out to come up with creative recipes so that we can enjoy light and refreshing meals, and then get on with all the activities we have planned for the rest of the day

 Roasted fennel with Bulgarian cheese (photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
Roasted fennel with Bulgarian cheese
(photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

Next week marks the end of the school year for Israeli high school students, with elementary and junior high school students following suit a couple of weeks later. As temperatures in Israel begin to soar, one of the things parents aim for is finding easy recipes that cut down on the amount of time we need to spend in the kitchen preparing meals for our families. 

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Every summer, I set out to come up with creative recipes so that we can enjoy light and refreshing meals, and then get on with all the activities we have planned for the rest of the day. I like to vary the ingredients I use, make sure to include brightly colored ingredients, and create meals that do not require the use of a hot oven or involve long cooking times on the stove.

The first recipe I’m bringing you this week is roasted fennel with Bulgarian cheese. The fennel bulbs soften nicely in the oven, and then all you have to do is crumble the Bulgarian cheese over them and drizzle a little olive oil on top. I have found that this dish works beautifully alongside tzatziki – a yogurt and cucumber dip that is perfect for serving on hot summer days.

Kids seem to love any kind of pasta that I make. Some of the dishes I like are spicy pasta, pasta Bolognese, pasta with a classic marinara sauce or pasta with hot dogs and vegetables. The third recipe I’m bringing you today is for pasta with peas and tuna, to which you can add tofu if you like or use tofu in place of tuna. If you’re going to be adding tofu, I recommend lightly frying it in olive oil before adding it to the pasta. 

The fourth recipe this week is for kugelhopf, a classic yeasty cake made with butter that is baked in a special patterned ring pan. The dough is set aside to rise until it doubles in size. Another option is to prepare the dough ahead of time and let it rise overnight in the fridge. This cake comes out light and airy when the dough is set aside to rise for a few hours. 

 Kugelhopf (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
Kugelhopf (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

You can include a variety of additions to the kugelhopf cake, such as cinnamon and nuts, chocolate and almonds, marzipan and jam. 

You can also drench the cake with syrup and rum after it’s finished baking or brush it with spiced butter. Alternatively, you can sprinkle a little powdered sugar on top. 

Roasted fennel with Bulgarian cheese

Makes 6 servings.

  • 3 medium fennel bulbs
  • 3 scallions
  • 1-2 spicy green peppers
  • A generous amount of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  • 100 gr. Bulgarian cheese
  • Mint leaves
  • Olive oil

Rinse the fennel bulbs, then cut them into eighths. Rinse the scallions and the spicy peppers, then cut them into thin slices. Arrange the fennel pieces on a baking tray (the size of the tray is not important – just make sure there is enough room for the fennel pieces). Sprinkle the onion and pepper slices on top, then add the salt and pepper (don’t use too much salt, since Bulgarian cheese is salty).

Drizzle a generous amount of olive oil over the vegetables. Cover the pan with baking paper, then aluminum foil, and bake in a preheated oven on 180°-190° for 20-25 minutes. Remove the paper and foil and cook for another 5-10 minutes uncovered until the fennel browns a little and reaches the desired level of crispiness. Personally, I like my fennel to be very crispy, so I leave it in the oven a little longer.

Remove from the oven and let cool. Crumble the cheese on top of the fennel, and add the mint leaves. Drizzle olive oil on top. This dish can be served cold or at room temperature and is wonderful served alongside tzatziki (see recipe below).

Level of difficulty: EasyTime: 40 minutes Status: Dairy

Tzatziki (yogurt with cucumber)

Makes 6 servings.

  • 400 ml. goat milk yogurt (or regular yogurt)
  • 2 cucumbers, chopped into small pieces or grated
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. dill, chopped
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. sour cream


  • ½ cup dill or mint leaves, chopped
  • Ice cubes
  • 1 cup of chopped cucumber
  • Olive oil

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge, letting it sit for at least two hours before serving so that the flavors become enhanced. 

Add the ice cubes, the dill or mint leaves and cucumber pieces. Drizzle a little olive oil on top. Serve very cold. 

Level of difficulty: EasyTime: 10 minutes + time in fridge Status: Dairy

 Pasta with peas, tuna and/or tofu (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
Pasta with peas, tuna and/or tofu (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

Pasta with peas, tuna and/or tofu

Makes 6-8 servings.

  • 1 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 pack (500 gr.) fettuccine or spaghetti noodles
  • 1 pack (500 gr.) tofu, cubed or grated
  • 2 ½ cups (300 gr.) frozen peas
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 4 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup parsley, chopped 
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 can of tuna in oil

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, then add the pasta and cook for 8 minutes until the pasta is al dente (i.e., not too soft). Drain. 

Add the peas and a pinch of salt to a large bowl. Pour boiling water to cover the peas and let sit for 5 minutes, then drain.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat and sauté the onion for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute. Add the tofu (if you’re adding it to the dish) and the soy sauce, and cook for another minute. 

Add the peas and parsley, then lower the heat and cook for one minute. Drain the tuna and add to the pasta and mix well. Pour the pasta mixture into a serving dish and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle chopped parsley on top. Serve hot or cold.

Level of difficulty: EasyTime: 30 minutes Status: Parve


Use a 24cm-diameter kugelhopf (bundt) pan.

Yeast mixture:

  • 25 gr. yeast
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • ½ cup flour, sifted
  • ½ cup water


  • ½ cup flour, sifted
  • ½ cup water

Additional ingredients:

  • 100 gr. light or dark raisins
  • ¼ cup rum or sweet wine


  • ¼ – ½ cup sugar
  • 2 small eggs
  • 130 gr. butter, melted
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 tsp. lemon or orange zest
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 ½ cups flour, sifted


  • ½ cup sugar (or brown sugar if you want a darker shade)
  • ½ cup almond slivers
  • ½ cup powdered sugar

To prepare the yeast mixture: 

Mix the yeast, sugar, flour and water together in a medium bowl. Cover the bowl and let the yeast ferment for 30 minutes.

In a small bowl, add the raisins to the rum or wine and let it sit for a while so that the raisins can soak up the liquid.

To prepare the dough: 

Add the yeast mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough attachment. Add the sugar and mix for one minute. While continuing to mix, gradually add the eggs, melted butter, milk, lemon or orange zest, vanilla and salt. While continuing to mix, gradually add the flour. Mix until dough is soft and sticky. Fold in the raisins and the leftover rum. 

Grease your kugelhopf pan with melted butter or butter spray. Line the bottom and sides of the pan with sugar, and then add the almond slices on the bottom and sides of the pan. Pour the batter into the pan, cover and let it rise for 1 – 1.5 hours or until the dough doubles in size. 

Bake in a preheated oven on 170°-180° for 35-40 minutes. Let the cake cool down, then place a serving plate upside down on the pan and flip it over so the cake sits upside down on the serving plate. Sprinkle powdered sugar on cake. 

Level of difficulty: MediumTime: 1 hour + time for letting the dough rise Status: Dairy

Translated by Hannah Hochner.