Anyone who has hosted or attended a Tu Bishvat seder likely remembers a cornucopia of fruit on the table. This agricultural abundance can be somewhat confusing because, unlike Sukkot and Shavuot, Tu Bishvat is not associated with any particular harvest period. Instead, fruit's connection to Tu Bishvat is more metaphysical. As Lesli Koppelman Ross writes:
On Tu Bishvat it is traditional to eat fruit associated with the land of Israel. The "classical" fruits are the seven species described in Deuteronomy 8:8, "a land of wheat and barley, of vines, figs, and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey." Since leaving Palestine, Jews throughout the world have maintained connections with the Land of Israel on Tu Bishvat by eating fruits produced there.
In other words, eating the fruits associated with Israel--even if they are out of season--helps root the holiday in the land where it originated. Additionally, the kabbalists, who helped re-imagine Tu Bishvat's celebration in 16th century Safed, developed practices of ritualized fruit consumption as a tool for spiritual elevation.
For those people who are less interested in kabbalistic ritual, serving a fruit-inspired dinner on Tu Bishvat--either after the seder, in lieu of a seder, or on the Shabbat closest to the holiday--can be a great way to honor Tu Bishvat's agricultural roots. To get you started, the two menus below (one meat, one vegetarian), feature fruit in every course. B'teavon!
Tu Bishvat Dinner Menu (Meat)
Tu Bishvat Dinner Menu (Vegetarian)
Adapted from the Post Punk Kitchen
2 Tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup maple syrup
4 teaspoons brown sugar
5 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 pound extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
Whisk together all ingredients except tofu in a small bowl. Slice the tofu into 1/2 inch pieces. Pour marinade into a plastic bag, and add the tofu slices. Seal and allow slices to marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour, shaking the bag occasionally.
Transfer the tofu slices to a baking dish (make sure the pieces do not touch each other). Pour the remaining marinade on top of the tofu. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil, flip tofu pieces over with tongs, and cook for an additional 15 minutes, uncovered.
Adapted from Spicy, Salty, Sweet
1 stick unhydrogenated margarine, room temperature
3/4 cup pureed persimmon
1 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 cup pistachios, toasted and chopped
Line two cupcake trays with cups and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together all dry ingredients except sugar in a bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl, combine persimmon, almond milk, and vanilla and set aside. In a third bowl, cream the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy.
Alternate folding in the flour mixture and puree mixture into the creamed margarine until just incorporated. Fill cupcake cups until three-quarters full and bake 20-25 minutes until golden. Let cupcakes cool, then top with vegan buttercream frosting and sprinkle with pistachios.