A Summer Shabbat with Leah Koenig

(Image credit: Alexis Buryk)

Shabbat dinner comes once a week. That’s 52 meals a year, each one another opportunity to perfect your dinner party game. And as I have learned over the last decade or so that I have been hosting Shabbat dinner, the holiday meal also offers a chance to highlight seasonal ingredients and get creative in the kitchen.

Focusing on dishes from my cookbook Modern Jewish Cooking: Recipes & Customs for Today’s Kitchen, here’s my menu for a summer Shabbat with fresh, seasonal ingredients.

(Image credit: Alexis Buryk)

I adore chicken soup and potato kugel — of course I do, who wouldn’t? — but when it comes to Shabbat dinner, I tend to get tired of cycling through the same roster of traditional dishes week after week. Having an expected menu feels particularly stifling during the summer months, when the tables at the farmers market are groaning under the riot of fresh produce heaped upon them.

That is why I decided to let summer shine at a recent Shabbat dinner I hosted at Naf and Anna’s lovely home in Brooklyn. (They are good friends; regular Friday night dinner companions; and, thanks to their kosher, sustainable meat company, Grow & Behold, the primary source of all the meat I buy.)

Let the rib-sticking brisket wait until winter, I figured. Now, while the mercury is high and the vegetables are indecently beautiful, is the time to bring summer to life at the Shabbat table. Here is the menu I served, featuring dishes from Modern Jewish Cooking.

(Image credit: Alexis Buryk)

Menu for a Summer Shabbat Dinner

The Recipes & More In This Series

Your Cooking Timeline

04h:00 before dinner (or earlier)

  • Begin making the challah. Let it rise and continue with shaping and baking while preparing the rest of the meal.


  • Make the Garlic-Marinated Zucchini up to 2 hours ahead.


  • Begin cooking the Moroccan Chicken about 1 1/2 hours before sitting down to dinner.


  • Make the Peach and Raspberry Tart. Let cool on the counter during dinner.


  • Begin preparing the Pine Nut and Scallion Couscous. When finished transfer to a serving bowl and cover to keep warm.


  • Dinner is served!
(Image credit: Alexis Buryk)

Your Shopping List

To buy at the grocery store

  • Peaches (3 medium)
  • Fresh raspberries (1/3 cup)
  • Yellow onions (2 medium)
  • Garlic (7 cloves)
  • Zucchini (2 pounds)
  • Lemon (1 medium)
  • Parsley (1 bunch)
  • Basil (1 small bunch)
  • Scallions (1 bunch)
  • Skin-on chicken legs and thighs (4 pounds)
  • Couscous (1 1/2 cups)
  • Chicken or vegetable broth (4 cups)
  • Pine nuts (1/2 cup)
  • Preserved lemon (1 whole)
  • Green olives (1/2 cup)
  • Apricot preserves (2 tablespoons)
  • Golden raisins (1 cup)
  • Frozen puff pastry (1 sheet)

From your pantry (check to make sure you have enough)

  • Extra-virgin olive oil (1 cup)
  • Red wine vinegar (1/4 cup)
  • Sugar (2 teaspoons)
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • Sweet paprika (1 tablespoon)
  • Cinnamon (1 1/2 teaspoons)
  • Ground ginger (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Turmeric (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Cayenne pepper (1/4 teaspoon)
(Image credit: Sang An)

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