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Wellness & Success

A Summer Dinner With SUNY

Teak dining table set for dinner overlooking large lake or river.

It’s now officially summer and already, we’ve experienced hot summer temperatures that have probably made us all start craving summer food. Who doesn’t love hot dogs and hamburgers, watermelon, popsicles, and frozen drinks?

As much as you may enjoy these summer staples, there’s also a chance you’ve gotten tired of same old, same old plain hot dogs with ketchup and mustard and want to impress your summer guests with something fresher and more sophisticated. To spruce up your cooking repertoire, we’re taking the time to bring you a four-course summer recipe series, with recipes provided from SUNY culinary teams across the state.

Professors, instructors, and program coordinators from several SUNY community colleges have provided us with recipes perfect for the summer, arranged in a four course meal – cold appetizer, hot appetizer, entrée/main course, dessert. In this post, as a way to get this fabulous meal started, we will be presenting cold appetizer recipes from Finger Lakes Community College, Schenectady County Community College, and SUNY Cobleskill.

All of the SUNY culinary program encourages students to learn by doing. SCCC students go above and beyond this expectation—they’re required 600 hours of work experience to earn a degree in Culinary Arts. This intensive work experience has paid off; many alumni have gone on to own their own restaurants, bakeries, cafes, and casinos.

At FLCC, culinary students get to test their skills in a student restaurant called Julia. Most FLCC students work part-time in the industry while also going to school, and many also give back to the community: recently, several culinary students paired up with eldercare chefs to raise $75,000 for Alzheimer’s research.

And when you’re shopping for the ingredients to make these recipes, look no further than Scoharie Fresh, the farmer’s market run by Cobleskill students. Customers can shop online and pick up their orders at several sites on and around campus.

Enjoy the first course in this wonderful summer meal. The rest of the meal will follow after we get a chance to cleanse our palettes at our picnic tables. And to all those who make these plates, share your results with us on Twitter or Facebook. Bon appétit!

SUNY Recipes for Cold Appetizers:


Bibb Lettuce Salad

Recipe courtesy of Jamie Rotter, Program Coordinator of Culinary Arts at FLCC

This salad was an appetizer featured in Julia, and will be on the menu at the FLCC President’s retirement dinner this month. It makes 12 servings.


  • 3 heads Bibb lettuce, washed and torn into bite size pieces
  • 8 ounces turnips, julienned
  • 8 oz celery root, julienned
  • 8 oz carrots, julienned
  • 8 oz parsnips, julienned
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 4 oz cider vinegar
  • 14 oz salad oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard


  1. Wash and prep the lettuce.
  2. Cut the juliennes of the root veggies on a mandolin.
  3. Rub with oil, salt and pepper; roast in the oven at 425F, turning often so the veggies do not brown.
  4. Remove the veggies from the oven and cool.
  5. Prep the vinaigrette by chopping the dried cherries finely. Combine with the mustard, and beat with the remaining oil and vinegar. Taste and adjust.
  6. To serve, toss the lettuce and root vegetables with a squeeze of the dressing. Plate and serve at once.

Heirloom Tomato and Watermelon Salad

Recipe courtesy of David E. Brough, Dean of the School of Hotel, Culinary Arts & Tourism at SCCC

This recipe from the culinary program at SCCC makes use of fresh, in-season heirloom tomatoes and summery watermelon. It makes 6 servings.


  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper, ground
  • ½ cup olive oil, extra virgin
  • 1 cucumber
  • ½ of a red onion
  • 1 lb heirloom tomatoes, diced into large chunks
  • 3 ½ cups watermelon, diced into large chunks
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced into large chunks
  • 7 oz Cotija cheese, half-inch cubes
  • 6 oz air dried ham, julienned (optional)
  • 3 oz greens


To make the vinaigrette:

  1. Whisk the vinegar, salt and pepper in a medium bowl to blend.
  2. Gradually whisk in the oil to blend well. Set aside.

To make the salad:

  1. Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise, then, using a spoon, scrape out the seeds. Cut the cucumber halves crosswise into thin half-moon slices.
  2. Using a mandolin, cut the onion into 1-inch-long paper-thin slices: or cut thin slices with a knife.
  3. Toss the sliced cucumber, onion, tomatoes, watermelon, bell pepper, cheese, air dried ham, greens, and mint in a large bowl with enough vinaigrette to coat. Serve immediately.

Chilled Corn Soup with Basil


SUNY Cobleskill’s chilled corn soup with basil.

Recipe courtesy of JoAnne Cloughly, Department Chair of Agriculture and Food Management at Cobleskill

This recipe makes 4 servings.


  • 3 ears corn, shucked
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk
  • ½ cup basil leaves, more for garnish
  • 3 scallions, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice, more to taste
  • 1 fat garlic clove, roughly chopped
  • ¾ tsp fine sea salt
  • Radish slices, for garnish
  • Extra virgin olive oil, for garnish


  1. Cut kernels of corn off of cobs, discard cobs.
  2. Place corn in blender with the buttermilk, basil, scallions, lime juice, garlic, salt and 1/3 cup ice cubes and purée until very smooth.
  3. Strain mixture through a sieve, pressing down hard on the solids.
  4. Serve soup garnished with radish slices and a drizzle of olive oil.

Watermelon and Goat Cheese Salad with Sriracha Vinaigrette

SUNY Cobleskill's watermelon goat cheese salad

SUNY Cobleskill’s watermelon goat cheese salad with sriracha vinaigrette.

Recipe courtesy of JoAnne Cloughly, Department Chair of Agriculture and Food Management at Cobleskill

Professor JoAnne Cloughly provided this watermelon salad recipe with a surprising kick. You can get several of these ingredients, such as the honey, goat cheese, and greens, from Cobleskill’s farmer’s market, Schoharie Fresh. This recipe makes 4 servings.


  • 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp sriracha sauce
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Dash ground black pepper
  • 4 cups peeled and pitted watermelon, cut into 1” cubes
  • ¼ cup very thinly sliced red onion
  • 3 oz crumbled goat cheese
  • ¼ cup toasted pecan pieces
  • 6 cups fresh salad greens


  1. Vinaigrette: Whisk together vinegar, sriracha, oil, honey, salt and pepper.
  2. Toss watermelon with red onion.
  3. Toss vinaigrette and melon/onion mixture. Spoon over greens and serve.

Smoked Roasted Salmon Julia

Recipe courtesy of Jamie Rotter, Program Coordinator of Culinary Arts at FLCC

This recipe makes 12 servings.


  • 3 lbs salmon fillet, boneless, skinless
  • 1 jicama, alumettes (matchstick-sized pieces—see instructions below)
  • 2 zucchini, outside only alumettes
  • 2 yellow zucchini, outside only alumettes
  • 3 large carrots, alumettes
  • ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 1 ½ cups salad oil
  • 2 tsp dry ginger
  • 2 oz Dijon mustard
  • 1 pint plain yogurt
  • 1 pint mayonnaise
  • 1 bunch of dill, fresh, stemmed and chopped
  • 1 Tbsp granulated garlic


  1. Prepare the salmon for smoking by removing it from the packaging and allowing to dry slightly—put it in a cool place near a fan. Season with salt, pepper, and a little chili powder if desired.
  2. Hot smoke the salmon with dense smoke at 250 for 20 minutes or until fish is cooked through. Take the temperature of the fish; if it is 150 or higher remove and cool. If it is not, finish in the oven and then cool.
  3. Slice the finished fish (when cool) into 3 to 4 oz. portions.

To make the slaw:

  1. Process the vegetables using a mandolin. The finished sticks should be no longer than 3 inches. Allumettes are matchstick sized.
  2. Combine the rice wine vinegar, orange juice, salad oil, ginger, and mustard to make an emulsified vinaigrette.
  3. Use the finished vinaigrette to dress the veggie slaw. Taste and adjust. Rest the slaw dressed for 1 hour in the refrigerator.
  4. Combine the yogurt, mayonnaise, dill, and granulated garlic to making the plating sauce. Taste and adjust.

To plate:

  1. Plate the slaw in the center of the plate. There should be no extra dressing.
  2. Plate the fish on top of the slaw and drizzle the yogurt sauce around the plate.
  3. Serve at once.
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Written by Jenna Colozza

Jenna was a student assistant with the SUNY Office of New Media when an undergraduate student at SUNY Geneseo studying English literature.

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There are 2 comments

  • John: The “Heirloom Tomato and Watermelon Salad” recipe has been updated with that info. Thanks for catching it!

  • john says:

    Thank you for the interesting recipies! Question…how much tomato in the “Heirloom Tomato and Watermelon Salad” recipe, and does the they be diced, slices or wedges?

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