On the evening of January 25, 2013, Jews around the world will celebrate the holiday of Tu B'Shevat, also known as the "Holiday of Trees." It's a minor holiday, not mentioned specifically in the Bible but referenced instead in the Mishnah, a book of commentary by rabbis through the ages. It's still an important holiday, though, because it is springtime in the Middle East and the trees are starting to bloom.
In ancient days, the Tribes of Jacob would bring the following foods found in trees to Jerusalem:
These foods—thought to be among those that had been in the Garden of Eden—would be given in tribute to the priests of the Temple.
Tu B'Shevat is the celebration of the start of the planting season. I believe it coincides beautifully with our modern idea of renewal—and a chance to start new choices about health and spirit.
It is also interesting to note that these "Trees of the Garden" are today found to be some of our healthiest foods!
As this New Year begins, consider incorporating more of these foods in your diet. And if you already do, try this recipe and think about how many generations of people have gotten sustenance from these ancient foods.
Apricots with Pomegranate Seeds and Toasted Nuts in Honey Syrup
Recipe by Kitty Morse Serves 4
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup water
1 (1-inch long) cinnamon stick
3 Tbsp. sweet red wine
16 large, dried apricot halves, plumped in hot water for 30 minutes and drained
1 pomegranate, seeded
1/3 cup chopped pistachios or sliced almonds, toasted
- In a medium saucepan, bring the honey, water, cinnamon stick and wine to a low boil. Add the apricots and poach them until they are soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick and let the mixture cool.
- Reserving the syrup in the saucepan, transfer the apricots to a wide, shallow serving bowl and arrange them so they are hollow-side up. Top each one with pomegranate seeds. Spoon the reserved syrup over the top and sprinkle with nuts.
- Serve at room temperature.
Recipe from A Biblical Feast: Ancient Mediterranean Flavors for Today's Table by Kitty Morse. Used with permission.