Seasons are never about the calendar. They’re about the temperature, and in turn, about our temperature-dictated rituals.
The temperature tells us when sweaters should be put into airtight containers and laced with a cocktail of mothballs and cedar blocks. Temperature tells us when the patio furniture cushions should come out of the garage and have their spider families disturbed with a high-pressure hosing-down. It tells us when the trendy and clichéd (yet super warm) UGGs should be shoved to the back of the closet and the Old Navy flip flips that double as night-out attire and locker room shower sandals should come forward.
So too, in the kitchen, temperature changes create new menus. Cold means a slow cooker with chili, and warm means fresh fruit and vegetables. Cold means hot soup, pot roasts and mashed potatoes, and warm means sandwiches and salads.
Growing up, there was one meal in our house that meant it was going to be really, really hot—the B.L.T. When my mom said we were having B.L.T’s for supper, be prepared to be uncomfortably hot. When B.L.T’s showed up on the menu, it meant that it was too hot for us to eat warm food, and it was too hot for her to cook it. It meant she preferred not to be in a kitchen at all, unless it was to slice peaches or hull strawberries, but that was usually done on the front porch, with a paring knife and a stew pan to catch the strawberry stems and peach skins.
What will be the summer dish that most signals hot weather to my family? I will ask them, but my guess is it’s either tomato, mozzarella, basil salad or Greek salad. This summer, I plan to give those two dishes a run for their money with garden vegetables and hummus in pita bread. Like all childhood memories, I don’t get to decide where this one will end up, but I can make it often enough to stack the deck a bit. That might be a bad thing if it weren’t so good and so healthy.
makes four sandwiches (2 pita halves per sandwich)
2 7-ounce containers hummus
lettuce, spinach or arugula
green onion, snipped into small slices
1 can sliced black olives
½ cup roasted bell pepper strips
Tear pitas in half. Stuff each with about a tablespoon of hummus and a variety of cucumber, greens, green onion, black olives and bell pepper strips. Top with two tablespoons hummus.