Rama Ginde’s Cook-Free Summer

Rama Ginde's Lamb Burgers

Rama Ginde's Lamb Burgers

The long hot summer is upon us, and wouldn’t you rather be in the pool than sweating it over the stove?

“Summer is a great time to host a stress-free get-together,” says Rama Ginde of WannabeChef, based in New Jersey. “Entertaining this season can be informal, laidback and fun.”

Her pointers for surfing in the kitchen:

  • Choose foods that are easy and fast to cook.
  • Simple ingredients with bold flavors create innovative dishes.
  • Always stock up on fruits, they grill well, taste great and are a beautiful garnish to any plate.
  • Buy cuts of meat that don’t take hours to cook like skirt steaks, chicken breasts, lamb chops and sausages.
  • Seafood is another great option that is light and takes no time to cook at all: marinade tuna in soy sauce and wasabi or grill salmon and enjoy it with a spritz of
    lemon and dab of garlic.

How do lamb burgers, shrimp teriyaki skewers and mushroom crostata with pesto sound? Follow these simple, flavorful recipes from Rama Ginde who’s taught many a novice how to whip up gourmet meals in economy time.

Mushroom, Sundried Tomato, Pesto Flatbread

Mushroom Crostata with Pesto

Mushroom Crostata with Pesto

Serves 6

2 1/4 cups of pre-sifted all-purpose flour
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup ice water

Or prepared pizza dough


1 large package baby bella or mushrooms of your choice, thinly sliced

½ tsp.rosemary

½ tsp. thyme

½ tsp. sage

1 tsp. chives, thinly scliced

¼ c. parmesan cheese, grated

1 tbs. truffle oil

3 onions, thinly sliced

¼ c. walnuts, coarsely chopped walnuts

½ c. oil packed sundried tomatoes, sliced

Pinch of salt

Pinch of pepper

Pesto Mayonnaise:

1 c. basil leaves

2 cloves garlic, minced

1.4 c. pine nuts

¼ c. parmesan cheese

¼ c. olive oil

Salt and pepper

In a medium sauté pan, on medium heat, add olive oil. Add sliced mushrooms and sauté gently, after a few minutes add all herbs, walnuts and pepper. In a different sauté pan, add sliced onions on low heat for 20 minutes until they become caramelized. Both mixtures should be cooled before using as topping for the crostata.

Start by making the dough, combining the flour, butter, salt and the water. Lightly mix together, just mixing until the dough comes together, being careful not to over mix. Wrap in plastic and set aside in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or more.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Take a 9-inch spring form pan or sheet tray, lightly butter the pan, line the pan with the dough. Top first with caramelized onions, mushrooms sun dried tomato slices, pesto and then parmesan cheese. . Bake for 30 minutes, or until the mixture is set and the pastry is golden brown. Drizzle with truffle oil. Sprinkle with chives.  You can serve it hot or cold.

Shrimp Teriyaki Skewers

Shrimp Teriyaki Skewers

Shrimp Teriyaki Skewers

Serves 6-8

For the marinade:

1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar or honey
2 tablespoon minced, peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic clove, minced

2 tbs. vegetable oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the skewers:
20 shrimp, cleaned
2 bunches scallions (about 10), the white and pale green parts cut into 24 (1 1/2-inch) lengths
2 tbsp. sesame seeds

12 wooden skewers for skewering the chicken and vegetables


In a saucepan whisk together the soy sauce, oil, sugar, ginger, and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Let the marinade cool. (The marinade can be made in advance, and refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.)


On each skewer alternate 3 pieces of shrimp with 2 scallion lengths. Arrange the skewers in a large shallow baking dish and pour the marinade over the chicken and vegetables. Marinate at room temperature, turning once, for 30 minutes. (The skewers can be marinated up to overnight.)

Arrange an oven rack about 4 inches from the broiler and preheat.

Arrange the skewers on a foil-lined baking sheet, reserving the marinade. Broil the skewers, basting occasionally for the first 6 minutes. Continue broil, turning occasionally, until the shrimp  is just cooked through, about 10 minutes. Discard any remaining marinade. Transfer the skewers to a platter. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Rama Ginde's Lamb Burgers

Rama Ginde's Lamb Burgers

Lamb Burgers

Serves 5

For the patties:
2 pounds ground lamb
1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/4 cup drained and chopped sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil
1/2 cup grated onion
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack
6 good-quality mini hamburger buns, split

1/2 c. feta cheese

1 cup arugula

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.

For the patties:
Combine the lamb, basil, sun-dried tomatoes, onion, garlic, and salt in a large bowl, handling as little as possible. Shape into 6 mini patties to fit the bun size. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

When the grill is ready, brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning once, until done to preference, to 7-10 minutes on each side for medium. Place the cheese slices on the patties during the last 3 minutes of grilling. Place the buns, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly during the last 2 minutes of grilling.

To assemble the burgers, place burger on top of burger and serve with feta cheese and arugula.


About Author

Lavina Melwani is a New York-based journalist who writes for several international publications. [email protected] & @lassiwithlavina Sign up for the free newsletter to get your dose of Lassi!

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