Anyone who has hosted or attended a Tu Bishvat seder likely remembers a cornucopia of fruit on the table. This agricultural abundance can be somewhat confusing because, unlike Sukkot and Shavuot, Tu Bishvat is not associated with any particular harvest period. Instead, fruit's connection to Tu Bishvat is more metaphysical. As Lesli Koppelman Ross' writes
On Tu Bishvat it is traditional to eat fruit associated with the land of Israel. The “classical” fruits are the seven species described in Deuteronomy 8:8, “a land of wheat and barley, of vines, figs, and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey” Since leaving Palestine, Jews throughout the world have maintained connections with the Land of Israel on Tu Bishvat by eating fruits produced there.
In other words, eating the fruits associated with Israel–even if they are out of season–helps root the holiday in the land where it originated. Additionally, the kabbalists, who helped re-imagine Tu Bishvat's celebration in 16th century Safed, developed practices of ritualized fruit consumption as a tool for spiritual elevation.
For those people who are less interested in kabbalistic ritual, serving a fruit-inspired dinner on Tu Bishvat–either after the seder, in lieu of a seder, or on the Shabbat closest to the holiday–can be a great way to honor Tu Bishvat's agricultural roots. To get you started, the two menus below (one meat, one vegetarian), feature fruit in every course. B'teavon!
Tu Bishvat Dinner Menu (Meat)
Tu Bishvat Dinner Menu (Vegetarian)
1 lb extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
5 teaspoons soy sauce
1/4 cup maple syrup
4 teaspoons brown sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 Tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
Whisk together all ingredients except tofu in a small bowl. Slice the tofu into 1/2 inch pieces. Pour marinade into a plastic bag, and add the tofu slices. Seal and allow slices to marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour, shaking the bag occasionally.
Transfer the tofu slices to a baking dish (make sure the pieces do not touch each other). Pour the remaining marinade on top of the tofu. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil, flip tofu pieces over with tongs, and cook for an additional 15 minutes, uncovered.
Pronounced: SAY-der, Origin: Hebrew, literally “order”; usually used to describe the ceremonial meal and telling of the Passover story on the first two nights of Passover. (In Israel, Jews have a seder only on the first night of Passover.)
Pronounced: shuh-BAHT or shah-BAHT, Origin: Hebrew, the Sabbath, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.
Pronounced: sue-KOTE, or SOOH-kuss (oo as in book), Origin: Hebrew, a harvest festival in which Jews eat inside temporary huts, falls in the Jewish month of Tishrei, which usually coincides with September or October.
Pronounced: too bish-VAHT (oo as in boot), Origin: Hebrew, literally “the 15th of Shevat,” the Jewish month that usually falls in January or February, this is a holiday celebrating the “new year of the trees.”