The New Year of the Trees

Take a moment to pause and imagine:  Spring is only a few weeks away!
The Jewish holiday of Tu b’Shvat is a day set aside to celebrate the fruit of the trees and to give thanks for their well-being and bounty.

Perfect timing.

This year, the New Year of the Trees occurs between sundown on February 7 and nightfall on February 8.

This minor holiday is mentioned in the Old Testament, in Leviticus 19:23-25, as a way to measure the age of trees and when it is appropriate to begin harvesting fruit from the young’uns.

Interested yet?

Here’s how it goes:  In the first three years, no fruit should be picked. The fourth year is a year to dedicated the fruit to G-d.  After that, harvest is allowed.

Makes sense to me as we give the trees time to set their roots firmly and the fruit develops without being tampered with.

The tradition of planting trees on this holiday has been enacted for many years in Israel. Any tree planted during the year is considered to have a birthday when the holiday of Tu b’Shvat arrives.

The holiday is a reminder to pause and reflect on the miracle and bounty of nature. It also marks the beginning of the growing season as we sense the soil warming up as spring approaches.

Some celebrate the holiday by eating items related to the seven species described in the Old Testament. They are:

wheat
barley
grapes
figs
pomegranates
olives
dates

Why not set aside a day to celebrate the value of trees and their fruit as a source of physical and spiritual sustenance?

Take a walk in the woods or in your favorite park.  Pause to observe the trees closely as buds miraculously begin to appear.
 Enjoy the increasing minutes of light at the end of the still cold winter days.
Connecticut food writer, Ronnie Fein shared this recipe with me when I met her to discuss the upcoming holiday.
 
She is the author of a wonderful book called Hip Kosher,  175 Easy-to-Prepare Recipes for Today’s Kosher Cooks.
 Her passion for healthy ingredients and flavors from around the globe comes through in each page. Her recipes are friendly, contemporary, and just happen to be kosher.
This easy stir fry is  low-fat, colorful, and incorporates some of the seven species mentioned above.
Even if pistachios are not included specifically in the list, they are one of only TWO nuts mentioned in the Bible. The other is almonds, which are mentioned many times.
Pistachios grow on small trees in dry climates and proliferate in the Middle East and parts of California.
Dried apricots are related to other dried fruits on the list. They pack a much higher nutritional punch than the fresh version as the carotene is deeply concentrated and impervious to heat.
Enjoy the celebration!
Stir-Fried Couscous with Chicken,Dried Apricots and Pistachios

Stir-Fried Couscous with Chicken,Dried Apricots and Pistachios

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups israeli couscous
  • 4 Tb extra virgin olive oil
  • 20 oz. boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-size chunks
  • 4 thick scallions, chopped
  • 1 c. dried apricots, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup shelled pistachios
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Make couscous according to package instructions and set aside.
  2. Heat 2 Tb olive oil in a wok, stir-fry pan or saute pan over medium heat.
  3. Add the chicken and stir fry for about 4 minutes or until meat is white and cooked through.
  4. Set aside chicken.
  5. Place remaining 2 Tb of olive oil in the pan.
  6. add scallions and cook 1-2 minutes or until softened.
  7. add apricots, cumin,and cinnamon and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes to distribute the ingredients well.
  8. Stir in pistachio nuts.
  9. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  10. Serve hot or cool to lukewarm.
  11. makes 4 servings.
http://kosherlikeme.com/in-the-kitchen/the-new-year-of-the-trees

19 Comments

  1. Can’t wait to try this! Looks like I already have everything needed to make this delicious! Might try adding cranberries too

    • Cranberries would be a lovely addition. I made the couscous with organic veg broth, not water. It def. boosts the flavor. Let me know how you like it!

  2. Tu Bishvat Samech, Chag Lilanot…Happy Birthday to the tree..The Almond tree in bloom is the most beutiful site.
    Thanks for this delicious recipe.

  3. As a tree lover (and hugger), I am delighted to learn about the Jewish holiday of Tu b’Shvat. This dish looks delicioius. Considering quinoa instead of couscous due to a wheat sensitivity.

    • Sometimes we are reminded to stop and notice. That’s always a good thing! This recipe seems flexible in lots of ways. Quinoa would probably be delicious. Let us know!

  4. It’s amazing we’re already thinking ahead to spring… This winter has been so mercifully mild.

    The flavors of this dish sound so well-paired, I would love to try it with chickpeas instead of chicken!

  5. Thanks for this great sounding recipe. This year I’m putting a focus on Tu B’Shvat (as we love the outdoors) and this will be our main dish at the seder.

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