This Tu BShevat, take your traditional seder to the next level

Tu B’Shevat, with its seder of fruits, nuts and wine to mark the New Year of Trees, is celebrated on Jan. 30 this year. It’s a wonderful time to reflect on the bounty of produce we have year round locally.

The custom at Tu B’Shevat is to eat the foods mentioned in Deuteronomy 8:8 — wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates (since the honey mentioned is thought to be date syrup). Many dishes also include carob and almonds, traditional foods of ancient Israel.

I thought it would be tasty not just to sample the foods in a seder, but make a meal of them. The recipes below create a menu featuring all of the above (with raisins standing in for grapes). One tradition you’ll have to take care of on your own is eating a fruit you have not yet had this season.

Sweet and Sour Pomegranate Fish

Serves 4

11⁄2 lbs. thin, mild white fish filets such as tilapia

1 Tbs. brown sugar

1⁄4 cup pomegranate molasses

1 tsp. lemon zest

1 Tbs. minced garlic

1⁄4 tsp. salt

1⁄4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

12 oz. baby spinach, steamed or sautéed

1⁄2 cup pomegranate seeds

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place filets in single layer in glass baking dish. Mix pomegranate molasses with brown sugar. Spread evenly on top of fish filets. Sprinkle zest, garlic, salt and pepper over fish. Cover dish with foil and cook in the oven for about 10-12 minutes or until the fish is cooked through. Serve on top of cooked spinach. Garnish with pomegranate seeds.

Barley-Olive Tabbouleh

Serves 6-8

4 cups cooked pearl barley

4 oz. parsley, finely chopped

2 oz. mint, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 red bell pepper, chopped

6 scallions (green onions), white and green parts, finely chopped

1⁄2 cup chopped, pitted Kalamata olives

1 cup diced tomato

1⁄4 cup olive oil

1⁄2 tsp. salt

1⁄4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

1⁄4 cup white wine vinegar

juice of large lemon

Combine all ingredients. Mix well. Taste and correct seasonings.

Carob Fruit and Nut Bars

Makes 16 bars

oil or oil spray

1⁄2 cup raisins

1⁄2 cup chopped black mission figs

1⁄2 cup chopped, pitted dates

1⁄2 cup slivered almonds

1⁄3 cup sugar

1⁄2 cup butter or margarine

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1⁄2 cup carob powder

1⁄2 cup flour

1⁄4 tsp. baking soda

1⁄3 cup honey

whipped cream or vanilla ice cream (optional) 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil or spray an 8-inch square baking pan. Combine raisins, figs, dates and almonds in a bowl. Mix with sugar and set aside.

Melt butter or margarine in a large glass bowl in microwave. Stir in eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Add carob, flour, and baking soda. Mix well until combined. Mixture will be very thick. Heat honey to make liquid if necessary. Mix in honey. Slowly stir in dried fruit, nut and sugar mixture until well combined.  Pour into prepared pan and bake for about 35 minutes until center is set and springs back to touch. Allow to cool completely in pan on rack. Cut in 16 bars. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream if desired.

Faith Kramer
is a Bay Area food writer. Her columns alternate with those of Louise Fiszer. She blogs her food at Contact her at [email protected].

Faith Kramer
Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer and the author of “52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen.” Her website is Contact her at [email protected].