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Tu B’Shvat 2021 Recipes

20/01/2021 08:14:03 AM


Gloria Boxen & Joel Troster


Tu B’shvat, the New Year of the Trees, is a welcome holiday falling during our grey winter months. In Israel, the almond tree is blooming a signal that the trees are waking up from their winter naps. Why the holiday?  In Temple times, the offering of the first fruits could only be made from trees at least 3 years old.  So Tu B’shvat, meaning the 15th day of Shvat, became the day in which all trees became a year older.


After the Temple’s fall, it became a day of giving to the poor. The nature of the day continued to change over the years. Many of us now celebrate it as the Jewish Environmental day with a tree planting in Israel or a donation to an environmental organization. We also hold seders to celebrate the gifts of the trees, learn from them, and discuss how best we can be stewards for nature.


It is tradition to eat different varieties of fruit on Tu B’shvat, especially those grown in Israel. For some people, the custom is to eat from the seven species mentioned in this Torah passage:


For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with streams and springs and fountains issuing from plain and hill, a land of wheat and barley, of (grape) vines, figs, and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and (date)honey (Deuteronomy 8:7-8).


Chabad tells us that the Magen Avraham (131:16) states, “It is the custom to eat many different kinds of fruit.”


As a child my goal was to eat 12 during the day. I wasn’t aware that the number 12 represented the “first” fruit of the seder.  All grown in ancient Israel, they are wheat, olives, dates, grapes, figs, etrogim (citrons) saved from the lulav of Sukkot, pomegranates, almonds, carobs, and pears.


It’s easy to eat at least 12 different fruits during Tu B’shvat.  Start your day by adding fresh or dried fruit, raw sunflower seeds, or nuts to your cereal or yoghurt. Frozen berries can be added to cereal before they are cooked. 


You can up the count with a fruit salad for lunch or dinner. My trick to making it special is to add a few drops of Angostura aromatic bitters. As a base and liquid for the salad, I use canned fruit packed in pear juice or light syrup and then add fresh fruit. 


The Carob pod is emblematic of Tu B’shvat for Ashkenazi Jews.  It was a fruit from Israel and could travel well to Europe. Baby boomers will remember trying to chew on the tough leathery pod. Today we have carob chips and powder, often used as a substitute for chocolate.


Joel Troster has put together a Tu B’shvat meal for your enjoyment.  If you are a nut-free family, use seeds as substitutes for the nuts in recipes.  For example, hazel nuts in the carrot salad can be replaced with pomegranate seeds or pepitas.


Running your own seder


The celebration of Tu B’shvat is a later innovation in Jewish life.  Because there is no ritually correct way to observe Tu B’shvat or conduct a seder, different approaches have been used over the years.  What is a mitzvah, is to make a donation to a social justice or environmental cause.  .


You are invited to join the Darchei Noam seder on Sunday, Jan 31st at 11:30 am. The haggadah will be sent to you beforehand and only if you register.


 If you wish to hold a small family seder of your own on Tu B’shvat, the day starts this year on the evening of Wednesday January 28.  These are links to various styles of seders.

A Simple Tu B’shvat Seder for families with young children The trees are davening, a more spiritual seder in the spirit of the Kabbalist one A traditional Ashkenazi seder


Be original and different at your seder or the Darchei Noam one. The fruits of the first world are ones with an inedible covering like pomegranates, bananas and sunflower seeds. Serve a salad garnished with pomegranate seeds, pepitas, or sunflower seeds. For the 2nd world of spring, at the DN seders we dip foccacio bread into olive oil or maple syrup. As a change, top the focaccia with an olive tapenade.   Suitable fruits for the 2nd world have a hard pit. Consider serving dates and dried apricots stuffed with mascarpone cheese. Third world fruits like raisins, berries,and even tomatoes are entirely edible.  There are no fruits eaten for the 4th world.  Instead we enjoy the fragrance of herbs and spices.


Explore some other approaches to Tu B’shvat and recipes at 



The Tu B’shvat Meal and their Recipes



  • Sweet potato, ginger, coconut milk soup (vegan)
  • Quinoa & Lentil Cabbage Rolls
  • Carrot Salad with Mint and Dates
  • Apple Cake


These recipes will feed a family of 4 to 6.


B’teyavon!   Bon Appetite!



Sweet Potato, Coconut, and Ginger Soup



  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 1 2-3 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 tsp Thai red curry paste, more or less to taste*
  • salt and pepper to taste



Put everything but the curry paste into a pot. Bring to a boil and simmer until the sweet potatoes are soft. Run through a blender or use an immersion blender until smooth. Add curry paste a bit at a time according to your taste.


* You can substitute mild Indian curry paste.



Quinoa & Lentil Stuffed Vegan Cabbage Rolls



- 1 head of green cabbage, see note


For the Filling

  • 3/4 cup brown lentils
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)


For the Sauce:

  • 2 tbsp. canola oil
  • 2  medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1⁄4 cup tomato paste
  • 1⁄3 cup raisins
  • 1⁄4 cup honey
  • 1⁄4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1  (32-oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes with juice, pureed



  1. Place about 3 inches of water into a large pot and add cabbage. Place over high heat. Bring to a boil, lower heat and and cover. Allow to steam until leaves peel off easily, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.
  2. While the cabbage steams, begin preparing the filling. Place the water into a small saucepan and add lentils. Bring the water to a boil, lower heat and allow to simmer until lentils are just fully cooked, about 35 minutes, adding water to the pot as needed. When lentils are finished cooking, drain any excess liquid.
  3. While the lentils simmer, place broth into a small saucepan and add quinoa. Place over high heat and bring to boil. Lower heat, cover and allow to simmer until all of the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to sit with the lid on the pot for 5 minutes.
  4. Coat the bottom of a large skillet with oil and place over medium heat. Add small onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups of the cooked lentils and 1 cup of the cooked quinoa, along with red wine vinegar, soy sauce, smoked paprika, salt and pepper to taste. Flip a few times just to combine the ingredients, then remove from heat.
  5. Heat oil in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat; add sliced onions and celery, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until lightly caramelized, about 15 minutes. Add tomato paste, and cook, stirring, until lightly caramelized, about 2 minutes. Add raisins, honey, juice, and tomatoes, and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, partially covered, until reduced, about 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350°F
  7. Peel a leaf off of the cabbage head and place it onto a work surface with the stem side facing you. Trim any very thick portions of the leaf near the base. Spoon 3 to 4 tablespoons of filling onto the center of the leaf. Fold the base side over the filling, then wrap the sides inward over the filling. Roll the center away from you to wrap everything up. Place the roll, seam side down, into the baking dish. Repeat until all of the filling is used.
  8. Spoon remaining sauce over the rolls, cover and bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.


Recipe Notes

You only need a small head of cabbage for this, but in order to get the most large, easily rollable leaves, I suggest going with a large head and only using the larger, outermost layers of leaves. You can save the rest for another use.


Submitted by Joel Troster



Carrot Salad with Mint and Dates





  • 1/2 cup/60 g raw hazelnuts
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound/455 g carrots, peeled
  • 1/3 cup/50 g finely chopped pitted dried dates
  • 1/4 cup/10 g roughly chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 3 cups/75 g baby arugula*



1. Place the hazelnuts in a small pan set over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to a small bowl to cool completely, then peel off the skins with your fingers and roughly chop.

2. Whisk together the lemon juice, shallot, and olive oil in a small bowl, and season with salt and pepper.

3. Grate the carrots on the large holes of a box grater or with a food processor fit with a shredding blade. Combine the grated carrots, toasted hazelnuts, dates, mint, and arugula in a large bowl. Drizzle with the dressing and gently toss to combine. Taste and add more lemon juice, if desired. Divide the salad among plates and serve immediately. (If not serving right away, keep the dressing and salad in separate containers; combine and toss just before serving.)


* Baby spinach or Boston lettuce can be substituted for the arugula.



Apple Cake


from Second Helpings Please



  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 2 Tbs. water or orange juice
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 6-8 apples peeled and sliced
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar



Pre-heat oven to 350F. Beat eggs, sugar, and vanilla until fluffy. Beat in oil and water or orange juice. Mix in flour, salt, and baking powder until just smooth. Spoon half of the batter into a lightly greased 9” square baking pan. Toss the fruit with the cinnamon and brown sugar and spread over the batter. Cover with the remaining batter. Sprinkle with icing sugar. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes until nicely browned.


This cake also works with peaches, apricots, blueberries, plums, or cherries.

Sun, 29 January 2023 7 Sh'vat 5783