Published February 1, 2023
This weekend, Jews around the world are celebrating Tu Bshvat, the Jewish New Year for trees. In the Torah, fruit-bearing trees are revered for their importance in sustaining life. The name is Hebrew for the 15th of the Hebrew month Shevat.
In 2023, Tu B’shvat starts at sunset on Sunday, February 5 and ends at sunset on Monday, February 6.
“Tu B’shvat symbolizes the renewal of a tree’s life. The sap rises deep from the tree as it begins to prepare to grow fruit in the spring. So we celebrate by eating fruit,” says Jewish cookbook author Naomi Ross, whose latest book is called:The giving table.” She says that Tu B’shvat always marks a special time in her household.
“When my kids were younger, I prepared a lot of fruits and invented trivia games to keep them interested,” she added. “Now that they are a bit older, I make some refurbished fruit dishes. I plan to do a Tu B’shvat ‘seder’ as well.”
The Tu Bshvat Seder
In the 16th century, the Kabbalists of Tzfat created a new ritual to celebrate Tu B’shvat, the Festival of Fruits. Modeled after the Passover seder, participants read selections from the Hebrew Bible and ate fruits and nuts traditionally associated with the land of Israel.
Ross says there are three things anyone can do to have a Tu B’shvat seder:
1) Eat of the 7 kinds of the land of Israel: wheat (berries), barley, grapes, figs, pomegranate, olives and dates.
2) Have a new fruit and say the blessing of “shehecheyanu”
3) If possible, eat a fruit grown in the land of Israel (a bit more challenging!!).”
Two recipe ideas
To make things even easier, Ross has given us permission to give you two recipes from “The giving tablewhich she says are perfect for Tu B’shavat.
Winter citrus salad
Wonderfully refreshing and pretty on the eye, this is an impressive upgrade from a sliced grapefruit as an aperitif. It’s also delicious served over Greek or coconut yogurt for a healthy breakfast or brunch!
- 2 ruby red grapefruits
- 3 large navel oranges
- 1⁄2 cup pomegranate seeds (about 1⁄3 pomegranate)
- 2 Tablespoons grated coconut
- 1⁄2 teaspoon grated lime zest (from about 1⁄2 lime)
- juice of 1 lime
- juice of 1⁄2 lemon
- 3-4 teaspoons honey, or more to taste (depending on the sweetness of the fruit)
- 1⁄8–1⁄4 tsp cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons triple sec or orange liqueur
- 1–2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
- Peel: Trim the pole ends of the grapefruits with a sharp serrated knife. Cut off the skin, following the curvature of the fruit and be careful not to cut too much fruit. Cut away the white pith.
- supreme: Using a gentle sawing motion, make incisions along each membrane, no further than the center of the fruit. Working over a large bowl, gently release the grapefruit wedges into the bowl. (You’ll be left with the empty membranes in your hand; throw them away.)
- To repeat: Repeat the same process with the oranges and add the orange segments to the bowl.
- Add the pomegranate seeds and coconut.
- Dress: In a small bowl, combine lime zest, lime and lemon juice, honey, cinnamon and liqueur. Beat until well blended. Pour this mixture over the segments; mix to mix. Set aside to marinate for 10-15 minutes. Spoon into dessert cups and sprinkle with a little chopped crystallized ginger. Serve and enjoy!
- This salad has beautiful color contrasts. For an even bolder look, replace some navel orange with blood orange.
- Serve in a dessert bowl or hollow out and fill an orange.
- This salad is easy enough to put together on Shabbos, but be sure to prepare the dressing ahead of time to prevent the salad from squeezing and grating on Shabbos.
Wheat Berry Salad With Grapes And Hazelnuts
This whole grain salad can also be made with farro or freekeh – each has its own unique earthy flavor that complements the aromatic hazelnuts.
- 4 ounces whole hazelnuts 1 cup wheat berries
- 3½ cups water, or to cover
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 1½ cups halved red grapes
- 2-3 spring onions, thinly sliced
- 3 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
- 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- ⅓–½ cup crumbled feta or blue cheese (optional)
- 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1½ Tbsp finely chopped shallot (from about ½ small shallot)
- 2 teaspoons of honey
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, or more freshly ground black pepper to taste
- ½ cup olive or grapeseed oil (little)
- Toast nuts: Preheat oven to 325°F. Prepare a sheet pan lined with aluminum foil; spread hazelnuts in an even layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes – the skin should be flaking and cracked. Remove from the oven, let cool and rub the nuts with fingertips or a tea towel to remove the skin. Chop coarsely and set aside.
- Boil wheat berries: Place wheat berries in a large dry pan over medium heat. Toast briefly in approx. 2-3 minutes. Add water to cover and ¼ teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 45-55 minutes, or until tender. Wheat berries should be soft with a bite, but not mushy. drying; put aside. (Alternatively, wheat berries can be cooked in an electric pressure cooker on high pressure for 20-22 minutes.)
- Prepare dressing: Combine vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, shallot, honey, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Beat to mix. Slowly drizzle in the oil while whisking to mix until emulsified. Season to taste with salt and pepper if necessary.
- Dress: Pour dressing over warm wheat berries, toss to coat. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to blend. Season with salt and pepper. Fold in reserved chopped hazelnuts. Serve at room temperature.
Tips for chefs
Roasting nuts refreshes the natural oils in the nuts, making them more aromatic and improving their crispness. Toasted pecans can also be used if hazelnuts are not available.
(“Both recipes are reprinted with permission from Publisher Menucha”)