Tu B’shvat was and still is an agricultural holiday in the land of Israel, and, in the diaspora it took shape in the form of longing for the promised land. In truth, there is no better time or place to miss the sunny beaches of Tel Aviv than January, at least on the snowy east coast.
Some comfort can be found in working next to a warm stove and cooking for friends, especially in a freezing weather. The recipes below include the traditional Tu B’shvat staples, nuts and dried fruit, and tahini, which although it may not be included in the seven species of Israel, it is definitely one of the best things Israel has to offer (and luckily for us, good Israeli and Palestinian tahini is available in Kosher supermarkets in the U.S.).
Chicken, walnut and kale patties
2 cups walnuts
4 cups pressed kale leaves
1 lb. ground chicken breast or thighs
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for frying
1 grated yellow onion
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup bread crumbs
Raw tahini for serving
1. Roast the walnuts in an oven set to 350 degrees. Layer walnuts in a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 8-10 minutes. Shake the baking sheet at halfway through. Remove from oven and cool on a rack. Turn oven off.
2. Put walnuts and kale in a food processor and blend until finely chopped. Transfer to a large bowl. Add ground chicken, 3 tablespoons olive oil, onion, eggs, and salt and mix well using your hands.
3. Put bread crumbs in a small bowl. Form 20 to 24 flat 2 inch round disks of the chicken mixture and coat them in bread crumbs. Line a tray with double layer of paper towel. Heat about 4 tablespoons olive oil in a non-stick pan and fry patties on both sides until fully cooked inside, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to the tray. Serve with raw tahini to drizzle on top.
Red Cabbage, hazelnut and barberry salad
Dried barberries (zereshk) are available in Persian markets. They can substituted with dried cranberries.
1 cup hazelnuts
½ red cabbage, finely shredded
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup dried barberries or cranberries
For the dressing
3 green onions, green parts only
¼ cup mint leaves
¼ cup basil or parsley leaves
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
1. To roast the hazelnuts, turn oven to 350 degrees. Layer hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 20-22 minutes, until light brown in color. Shake baking sheet a couple of times during roasting. Transfer to a cooling rack and turn oven off. Massage hazelnuts between your palms to remove their skin. Keep aside.
2. In a large bowl, mix cabbage and kosher salt. Put a heavy weight over cabbage and let rest for 30 to 60 minutes.
3. In the meantime prepare dressing: Put everything but the olive oil in a blender and mix until almost smooth. Slowly drizzle olive oil. Transfer to a bowl.
4. Massage cabbage with your hands. Put hazelnuts in a plastic bag and using a rolling pin break them to pieces. Add to the cabbage together with barberries. Drizzle dressing on top and mix.
Hazelnut, chocolate and orange salami
This version of the retro chocolate salami is based on my long-time obsession with gianduja, the Italian hazelnut chocolate. Here, the gianduja the base for the salami.
Candied orange peel is available at Middle Eastern markets and online. I always keep it at home, and add it to granolas, dip it in chocolate and chop it into cakes. If you cannot get it, use dried cherries or any favorite dried fruit instead.
Petit beurre (French style tea biscuits) are available in most supermarkets, in the cookies and sometimes in the Kosher aisles.
10 oz. (2¼ cups) hazelnuts
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
8 oz. milk chocolate
1 oz. 100% chocolate (or the darkest chocolate you can get)
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup crumbled petit beurre (French style tea biscuits) or vanilla cookies
½ cup chopped candied orange peel (see note) or dried sour cherries
1. To roast the hazelnuts turn oven to 350 degrees. Layer hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 20-22 minutes, until light brown in color. Shake baking sheet a couple of times during roasting. Transfer to a cooling rack and turn oven off. Massage hazelnuts between your palms to remove their skin. Keep aside.
2. Put 8 oz. of the hazelnuts (1¾ cups) in a blender together with powdered sugar and mix until it reaches a very smooth, nut butter consistency. Melt two types of chocolate in the microwave in 20 seconds intervals, mixing between each cycle. Add to mixer and mix until well blended. Transfer to a large bowl, let cool for about 15 minutes. Add the rest of the hazelnuts, crumbled petit beurre and orange peel and mix.
3. Put two layers of plastic wrap, about 16 inches long, on a working surface. Spoon half the chocolate mixture in the center like a long salami, wrap tightly with the plastic wrap and twist the ends to close. Transfer to a tray. Repeat with the rest of the chocolate mixture. Transfer the two salamis to the fridge for 6 hours or overnight. Slice into ½ inch slices and serve.