Tu b’Shevat is the holiday of trees, yet it falls at the end of January when the trees around here are bare and the last place you want to be is outside. As the “New Year of Trees,” the holiday marks the beginning of nature’s revival, so what better way to celebrate than with a feast of nature’s bounty in your cozy warm home?
While some celebrate the holiday by planting trees, others enjoy a Tu b’Shevat seder with plenty of dried fruits and nuts and even try to include something from all of the seven species of the land of Israel—wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates. In the spirit of DC’s favorite meal—brunch—why not throw a Tu b’Shevat brunch party this year for a spin on the classic seder?
The best brunch starts with a refreshing drink and several of the seven species can make for some tasty cocktails. Fill up your cup with barley (scotch) and pomegranates for The Smokey Pom or add some bubbles with a Fig Fizz made of wheat (vodka), grapes and figs.
Next up, the bread basket! Bring out this seven species challah to impress your guests and enjoy all seven of the species in one stuffed loaf. It’s your classic challah base filled with a mixture of nuts, dried fruit and even some olives.
To go with all of that bread, you’re going to need something to spread on top! If you have a sweet tooth, cure it with this fig lavender jam. If savory is more your style, meet your muhammara match! This Middle Eastern spread is made out of peppers, walnuts and a splash of pomegranate molasses. Pull out a jar of nut butter, too, and you’ve got quite the spread.
If we’re celebrating nature, we can’t forget about the vegetables. With it still being winter, take advantage of the great root vegetables available and make a shaved carrot salad with pomegranate and pistachios. The crunch from the raw vegetables will add a welcome bite to your meal, not to mention the dish is beautiful enough to be your centerpiece. Grain salads are another component to add to your brunch—they hold up well so you can make them in advance, and they won’t get soggy if you let them sit out while you sip the day away. Using one of the seven species, this barley, kale and beet salad adds some hearty greens and whole grains to your meal. You can even throw in some dried fruit or nuts to make it more festive.
It’s not brunch without eggs! Quiche is an easy to make entrée that can be filled with whatever you like—and for this holiday we’re filling ours with olives (and olive oil!) and tomatoes for a savory dish. If pie crusts give you nightmares, try out this shakshuka with feta and olives. It’s a one-pot dish that’s full of flavor, olives and lots of sauce for that challah!
Last, but definitely not least, is dessert. Dates are nature’s secret sweet, and they can easily be turned into a crust for this healthier version of a cheesecake. Using cashews instead of cream cheese, this Blueberry Lime Cheesecake is vegan, gluten-free and full of dried fruits and nuts for Tu b’Shevat. You could even use pomegranates instead of blueberries to give it an extra holiday punch.
With all these recipes, you should have no trouble putting together a brunch using all seven species. Decorate your table with succulents to add some greenery to your scene, and you’ll have all your bases covered for a green and grand Tu b’Shevat!