In the winter I never have any trouble planning Shabbat and holiday menus. Many of the most basic and quintessential Jewish foods–brisket, kugel, matzah ball soup, babka–are perfect for a blustery day in November, or a snow-day in February, but come the sticky humid heat of June, July and August, and I find it hard to locate Jew-y recipes that seem temperature-appropriate.
There are two obvious solutions here. First, abandon all pretense of making something Jewish, and just make something delicious. When it’s 95F in the kitchen, I don’t think any of my Shabbat guests are going to complain that gazpacho is Spanish, and there haven’t been Jews living in Spain since, oh, that pesky inquisition. They’ll just be grateful I didn’t make a hot soup.
The other solution is to spend the entire summer cooking Israeli food. There are many Jewish communities from very hot parts of the world (Iran, Iraq, Morocco, Tunisia, Afghanistan, Brazil, Ethiopia, etc) but somehow I find that food from these communities is still too heavy for me in the summer. Israelis, though, know their hot weather food, and now when I want to make something for Shabbat I find myself thinking about what my friends are probably eating in Jerusalem and Haifa and Be’er Sheva and making that. If I need some Israeli inspiration, I head to our Israeli food section, or open up Janna Gur’s gorgeous The Book of New Israeli Food. Those pictures will get your mouth watering no matter what season it is.
Hm. Now I want some gazpacho and falafel.