ISRAEL: Tu b’Shevat salad

Tonight is the Jewish holiday of Tu b’Shevat – the New Year of the Trees. In Israel it’s largely celebrated as an environmental awareness holiday, often with tree planting. There’s a special seder where people eat dried fruits and nuts (and drink four cups of wine!). Even if not really observing, fruit and nuts are very “seasonal”. Also seasonal for this holiday are the Seven Species of Israel: wheat, barley, figs, pomegranates, dates, grapes, and olives.

I found this recipe at Jewish Food Experience, based off trip to a Tel Aviv farmer’s market, for a Tu b’Shevat salad that incorporates some of the Seven Species. A base of barley, with dates, figs, pomegranate, as well as walnuts, apples, and persimmons. I couldn’t find fresh figs (it’s winter, in Canada, in the pandemic – fruit selection isn’t great) but using dried figs seems like it won’t bring down the house. The dressing includes silan (date syrup). I found it at the Mid-East Food Centre here in Ottawa and it’s got a lovely rich flavour – I think it’ll start sitting it into plain yogurt for breakfast.

This salad is really good warm, though it’s sweet enough I’d almost call it a “healthy dessert” instead of a salad. I like the different fruits in each bite, and the orange and date dressing adds extra flavour. I figured since this recipe only covered five of the Seven Species, I’d have some grapes and whole wheat crackers with cheese on the side to round it out!

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