A Tu B’Shvat Meal that Celebrates the Earth’s Bounty

A Tu B’Shvat Meal that Celebrates the Earth’s Bounty

Braised Short Ribs with Dried Fruit. Courtesy Ronnie Fein

Enjoy a variety of fruits, grains, and nuts on ‘Jewish Earth Day’

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Tu B’Shvat isn’t exactly the most well-known or popular Jewish Holiday. It’s not like Passover, for example, which the entire world has heard of. In fact, many of my Jewish friends have no clue what it’s all about.

But this holiday was always important to my family. I remember that, as a child, this was the time when my parents would give money to the Jewish National Fund to plant trees in Israel. It was our family’s way of giving thanks for the safety of all of our relatives who had escaped the Holocaust and were living in Israel. Years later, on the first trip that my husband and I took to Israel we marveled at the lush trees — forests — that had supplanted the desert. We understood that thousands and thousands of other families had done the same and that this was the result.

Later on, and for other reasons, Tu B’Shvat continued its significance to us. Although it is known as the New Year of the Trees, we now think in a broader context — more about respecting the earth, about conservation, sustainability. We could call it Jewish Earth Day.

On the culinary side of things, Tu B’Shvat is one of the more delicious holidays. There is no particular iconic dish, no Chanukah latke or Rosh Hashanah brisket. But because of the focus on the bounty of the earth, it has become customary to eat a vegetarian meal or to include lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains with a meat meal.

So why not a dish that combines meat, fruit, and grains?

For example, this sweet and savory dish of braised short ribs with dried fruit. This is a slow-cooked wonder that simmers for hours, giving off fragrant, welcoming vapors. It’s the kind of dish that makes everyone look forward to eating what’s in that pot. You can prepare it a day or so ahead. If you prefer, you can make it with flanken (it’s the same cut, but butchered differently) and use a variety of dried fruit. I’ve included dates and figs, because they are traditional for Tu B’Shvat, but also dried apricots and cranberries because they add a lush, tangy flavor. This dish is perfect with wheat (cooked pasta or bulgur) or with cooked barley, grains that are also traditional on Tu B’Shvat.

Braised Short Ribs with Dried Fruit

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Braised Ribs
Braised Ribs

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Tu B'Shvat

Braised Short Ribs

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