Do you love to eat foods imbued with symbolism? With the Tu B’Shvat holiday approaching on the eve of February 3 we have an opportunity to pause and connect nature’s wondrous cycles with deeper meaning while enjoying tasty fruits and grains.
The holiday of Tu B’Shvat (15th day of the Hebrew month of Shvat) is often called the birthday of the trees.
Why do trees need birthdays?
There was a Biblical injunction against eating fruit from trees that were younger than three years old (Leviticus 19:23). Even if you planted trees just a few weeks ago, they would still mark their first birthday on February 4 this year.
So all trees had the same birthday and their ages could be calculated.
Pretty clever, eh?
Every year, before I write my post in honor of this holiday, I grab my camera, bundle up and wander about my beautiful frozen yard.
It’s a quiet time to reflect and pay closer attention to what’s happening in the ground and on the trees now that we are firmly in the coldest months of winter.
I am always surprised by what I see.
When we moved to this home, almost 20 years ago, we transplanted a couple of small’ish cherry trees. I wrapped them securely in burlap blankets, “heeled” them in for the winter and found a sunny spot to plant them in the spring. They flourished in their new home and surprised us by flowering twice that year.
They have flowered twice (sometimes more than twice!) every year since.
There is nothing so strange as seeing those pink blossoms in January. I’ve learned that it’s very rare for small flowering trees to bloom more than once a year.
I’m relieved to learn that they are of a a rare species rather than examples of terrifying global warming. These Autumn Blooming Cherries are my favorites.
As we celebrate the birthday of the trees on Tu B’Shvat we focus on the seven species native to Israel and mentioned in the Bible. They are wheat, barley, olives, dates, grapes, figs and pomegranates (Deut. 8:8).
We’ll be celebrating by eating this colorful fruit salad created by Jennifer Abadi. It contains 4 of the 7 species mentioned. Enjoy this sunny dish for dessert or with yogurt for breakfast.
To read more about Tu B’Shvat and to see other recipes that include the seven species click here to find Molly Katzen’s Grilled Bread Salad with Figs and Walnuts
and here to find Kim Kushner’s Pecan Fig Biscotti.
This fruit salad includes 4 of the 7 species of fruits mentioned in the Bible, making it the perfect dish to serve for Tu B'Shvat. Dates, grapes, figs and pomegranates add texture and color while harkening back to native fruits.
This recipe is non-dairy (pareve), gluten-free and vegan.
Thank you Jennifer Abadi!
- 4 large mejool dates (or 8 regular sized dates), pitted
- 4 dried (or fresh) figs, stems removed
- 3 fresh apricots, or 6 dried
- Seeds from 1 pomegranate (or dried sour cherries, if not in season)
- 2 oranges
- 2 cups assorted grapes (black, green, red)
- ½ cup pistachios and/or almonds, crushed
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
- 2 to 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/4 to ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Chop all the fruit into bite-size pieces and place into a large mixing bowl.
- Sprinkle the crushed nuts, chopped mint leaves, lemon juice, honey, and ground cinnamon over the top and toss the fruit salad with a fork and spoon. Adjust seasonings according to taste.
- Serve chilled or at room temperature in serving bowl. Plain yogurt may be served on the side, if desired.