Tu BiShvat (Hebrew for the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shvat) is the new year of the trees.
What better way is there to relax on a hot summer’s night than with a cheese board, wine jelly (a wonderfully sweet counterfoil to strong and earthy blue-veined or chevre cheeses), and a good bottle of wine (preferably from the wine country in northern Israel)?
This recipe was created in 2005 in celebration of the 350th anniversary of Jews in America – inspired by gardening techniques practiced in Plymouth, MA.
Almond cultivation was among the primary occupations of Mediterranean Jews, and it was the Spanish Jews who first replaced flour with ground almonds in baking their tortas.
On Tu BiSh'vat it is customary to eat foods from these seven species: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates.
This recipe is more nutritious than typical risotto and has that same risotto consistency, plus the natural starch in the barley grain adds creaminess to the dish. The use of saffron mimics the classic Risotto Milanese, which some connect to the Venetian Jewish community.
While we have been having a relatively warm winter in the United States, it cannot compare to what winter is like in Israel. It is the rainy season there, the time of year that Israel greens up, with cooler temperatures and rain (which feels like a miracle every time I experience it) in between
In a few weeks we will be celebrating Tu BiSh’vat. There are numerous approaches you could take in planning your celebration.