As early as the days of the Second Temple, until 70 C.E., the fifteenth day of the month of Av, starting at sundown on Friday, was celebrated as the day of shiduchim, matchmaking, for young Jews. Women wearing white dresses would fill the vineyards, dancing for men to observe and choose their bride. Why dance in the vineyards? Because late summer was time of harvesting the grapes for making wine.
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Fast forward two millennia, Tu B'Av is officially Love Day (or Valentine's Day) in modern Israel, including all the red fuzzy bears, heirloom heart balloons and red roses. And although people nowadays dance in disco clubs (I think. It's been a while) and not in the vineyards, wine still plays a big role in romantic courting everywhere.
To celebrate the ancient and new vineyards and the wonderful fruit they give us, here's a menu full of grapes to serve with a lot of wine and enjoy with your loved ones.
Grape, microgreens and Gorgonzola salad
6 shallots, peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 cup chopped walnuts
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon kosher salt
6 oz. microgreens (can substitute baby arugula or any baby green mix)
6 cups watercress or baby kale
1½ cups green seedless grapes, halved
2 oz. Gorgonzola or any creamy blue cheese
1.Quickly marinade shallots. Mix with mustard seeds and vinegar and let stand for 30 minutes.
2.Toast walnuts in a skillet over medium-high heat, stirring frequently until color has darkened and you notice their distinct aroma. Set aside to cool down.
3.Strain vinegar from shallot mixture into a small container. Add olive oil, Dijon mustard and salt, close with lid and shake.
4.Put microgreens, watercress and grapes in a large bowl and mix with salad dressing. Divide salad between plates, top with crumbled Gorgonzola and walnut and serve.
Black grape and red wine sorbet
Sure, red grapes will work beautifully too.
You can also try the same recipe with green seedless grapes and white wine.
Don't be alarmed by the quantity of sugar, you'll be using only part of it for the sorbet.
Yields about 1 pint
1 lb. seedless black or red grapes
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons red wine
1. Remove grapes from cluster, wash, put in a freezer bag and freeze for 12 hours.
2.In the meantime prepare sugar syrup. Put sugar and ½ cup water in a small pot over medium-high heat, bring to boil, cook for a couple of minutes and remove from heat. Let cool to room temperature, then transfer to the fridge overnight.
3.Put grapes, 3 tablespoons sugar syrup and 2 tablespoons red wine in a bowl of a blender and mix until smooth and thick. If the sorbet seems too soft, you can add a few ice cubes and blend again. Transfer to sealed containers and freeze for 4 hours or until sorbet firms.
This recipe is vegan, using coconut oil instead of butter in the crumble mix. The coconut oil adds a sweet aroma to the crumble, making it especially irresistible.
Serve with vanilla ice cream or with the grape and red wine sorbet above.
1½ cups flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
¾ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup coconut oil
For the grapes:
3 lb. green and red seedless grapes
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ cup sugar
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10-by-8 inch or 9-by-9 inch pan.
2.Put flour, baking powder, rolled oats, sugar and salt in a large bowl and mix. Add coconut oil and mix with your fingers, creating crumbs. Set aside.
3.Slice half the grapes in half. Put sliced and whole grapes in a large bowl. Add cornstarch, lemon juice and sugar and mix. Pour into greased pan, top with an even layer of the crumble mixture and bake for an hour, until top is golden and grape juice seems to bubble in thick bubbles. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.