'The Giving Table': Cooking it forward at a summer barbecue - review

The idea of The Giving Table is that there are recipes and menus that are appropriate for different times in a Jewish life. Here are three recipes to try.

 TURKEY BURGER (photo credit: The Giving Table)
(photo credit: The Giving Table)

Naomi Ross’s The Giving Table is a cookbook that knows its audience.

It’s very clearly tailored to Orthodox Jewish cooks, not only because the recipes are kosher but because of the content that goes along with the recipes. Many kosher cookbooks include menus and suggestions for specific Jewish holidays, but Ross’s book focuses on the Jewish life cycle and cooking for others as part of life in a Jewish community.

The idea of The Giving Table is that there are recipes and menus that are appropriate for different times in a Jewish life, whether it’s a meal to deliver to a new mother, to visit the sick, or to comfort mourners, among other times when it is appropriate to give friends and family food cooked with love, meant to nourish their souls as well as their bodies.

Ross provides clear instructions and step-by-step photos for some of the more complex recipes, as well as QR codes to see videos and learn new techniques like braiding challahs (“all guests love carbs,” she writes), carving a leg of lamb, or making one of this writer’s favorites, khachapuri.

In the summer, when Israeli kids no longer have school on Fridays, my family often likes to go out and do fun activities like taking a day trip or spending a few hours at the beach, and I make a quicker, simpler Shabbat dinner than usual. One way of doing that is barbecuing right before Shabbat.

 CONFETTI ORZO Salad.  (credit: The Giving Table)
CONFETTI ORZO Salad. (credit: The Giving Table)

But even with a more traditional Shabbat, summer tends to be the time to invite some friends over for a barbecue. Ross has quite a few recipes that would fit your next outdoor grilling event. In fact, she has an entire section titled “Cooking for a Crowd” with a lot of appropriate dishes.

Here are three great options for your summer cookout:

Lamb Burgers with Fresh Mint Chutney

Ground lamb has a special flavor all its own and produces a seriously juicy burger. A refreshing mint chutney and pickled red onions help build a burger to remember. Prepare those components ahead of time for fast assembly before serving.

Yield: 6 burgers 


  • 1 ¼ pounds ground lamb
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¾ tsp. ground paprika
  • ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 hamburger buns or pitas

Mint chutney

  • 1 cup packed mint leaves
  • 1 shallot, trimmed, peeled, and quartered
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (or more if you like it hot)
  • 3 Tbsp. lime juice (from 1 or 2 lime)
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice (from ½ lemon)
  • ¼ tsp. cumin
  • ¾ tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp. ground ginger

Pickled red onions

  • 1 red onion, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 2 small whole jalapenos, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 2 cups seasoned rice vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. coarse kosher salt
  1. To prepare the onions: Place onion and jalapeños in a medium heat-proof bowl. In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, lime juice, sugar, and salt. Bring just to a boil, stirring until the salt dissolves. Pour over onion and jalapeños. Let stand at room temperature at least 1 hour.
  2. To form the burgers: Gently mix together all the burger ingredients in a mixing bowl. Form the mixture into approximately 6 thick patties (about ¾-inch each). Do not over-handle.
  3. To prepare the chutney: Place all the chutney ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until mostly blended but still retaining some texture. Season to taste.
  4. To grill: Preheat the grill to high heat and carefully oil the grates (a wad of oil-soaked paper towels and tongs work well for this job). Place the patties on the grill. Grill for about 4 minutes per side, flipping once during grilling. (Alternatively, burgers can be cooked on a grill pan or indoor grill.)
  5. To assemble: Serve each burger on a toasted bun topped with a spoonful of mint chutney and pickled red onions.
  6. Note: Mint chutney can be made up to five or six days ahead but may lose some of its bright green color as it oxidizes. Pickled red onions can be made at least up to one week ahead; cover and refrigerate.

Sun-dried Tomato Turkey Burgers with Rosemary Aioli

Aioli is a garlicky mayonnaise from the Provence region of southern France. Here, the rosemary aioli has a dual purpose: dressing the bun as an accompaniment, while also lending the super lean turkey meat extra moistness and flavor, preventing it from drying out and sticking to the grill. Alternatively, the burgers can be grilled on a grill pan or indoor grill.

Yield: 8 burgers 

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 shallot, diced (about ⅓ cup)
  • ¼ cup drained and chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 ½ - 1 ¾ pounds ground turkey
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. rosemary aioli (see recipe below)
  • Hamburger buns or multi-grain rolls, sliced in half and toasted/grilled
  • A few handfuls baby arugula, for topping
  • Optional: Sliced tomato, for topping

Rosemary aioli

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 Tbsp.)
  • ¼ tsp. salt, or to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed (about 2 tsp.)
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary (or 1 tsp. dried rosemary, crumbled)
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Sauté: Heat oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, until shallots are translucent. Add sun-dried tomatoes and season with salt and pepper to taste. Continue to sauté for another 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Meanwhile, prepare the rosemary aioli.
  2. To prepare rosemary aioli: Combine all aioli ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. To prepare patties: In a large mixing bowl, combine turkey, shallot-tomato mixture, and 1½ tablespoons rosemary aioli. Mix until just combined. With moistened hands, gently form into 8 patties.
  4. To grill: Preheat grill to high (about 450°F). Grease grates of grill (an oil-soaked wad of paper towels and tongs do a good job of this). Place burger patties on grill; close the cover and grill for about 3 to 4 minutes per side, turning once during grilling.
  5. To assemble: Smear some rosemary aioli on the bun halves. Top each with a burger, arugula leaves, and tomato.

Confetti Orzo Salad

A perfect summer salad for grill season, the vegetables are quickly prepared on the grill, lending a smoky intensity to this refreshing salad. No grill? The vegetables can easily be roasted on baking sheets with delicious results.

Serves: 12-14 

  • 1 (1-pound) package orzo
  • 7 red bell peppers, halved and seeded
  • 4 yellow summer squash or zucchini, scrubbed, trimmed, and sliced lengthwise into ¼-inch-thick flat planks
  • 2/3 cup olive oil, divided
  • 2 tsp. Tbsp. salt, divided
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup fresh chopped basil leaves (packed)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. To prepare orzo: Boil orzo according to package instructions until al dente (should be soft but still with a slight bite). Drain, rinse, and set aside (can be made a day ahead).
  2. To grill: Preheat grill on high for direct grilling; oil the grates. Brush pepper halves and squash planks (both sides) with about ¼ cup olive oil. Sprinkle vegetables evenly wit 1 tsp. kosher salt. Place vegetables in a single layer on the grill; grill peppers for 9 to 10 minutes and the squash for 6 to 8 minutes, turning over once halfway through grilling. The vegetables should be tender and browned, with grill marks. Transfer to a cutting board to cool slightly.
  3. To assemble: Dice the grilled vegetables and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add orzo, the remaining 2–3 Tbs. olive oil, the remaining 1 tsp. salt, oregano, vinegar, and basil. Season to taste with black pepper; mix to blend. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

Cook’s Tip

Double/triple the amount of roasted vegetables to have an extra batch on hand for easier weekly meal prep or to have as part of a roasted vegetable platter for your buffet.

The Giving Table By Naomi RossMenucha Publishers424 pages; $43.16