Growing up in the New York, Tu B’Shvat was one of the Jewish holidays that slipped under the radar. Living in Israel, I can’t step into a grocery store this time of year and not know what holiday it is. Dried fruits and nuts are piled high, serving as a pleasant reminder that it is Rosh Hashanah La’Lanot, or the New Year for trees.
Although I don’t attend a Tu B’shvat seder (a tradition of the Kabbalistic communities here), I always mark the holiday by incorporating as many dried fruits and nuts as possible into my meals for the day. I combine them to make a trail mix suitable for an afternoon snack or outdoor hike, or toast them with oats for granola to enjoy with my morning yogurt. For dinner, I take a cue from North African tagines by braising dried fruits along with chicken or beef that I serve alongside couscous and a salad topped with nuts.
But my favorite Tu B’Shvat recipe is the one for these dried fruit and nut cookies, which I learned from my friend and colleague Orly Ziv of Tel Aviv-based Cook in Israel, which offers culinary tours and cooking classes. She teaches her students to makes these cookies, which are chock full of dried fruits and nuts (recipe below). Somewhere between biscotti and granola bars, these chewy, lightly crispy cookies are sweet enough to feel like a treat, healthy enough to serve as a nice breakfast, and are perfect for Tu B’Shvat.
Dried Fruit and Nut Cookies
Yield: About 40 cookies
1½ cups chopped mixed nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds)
1½ cups chopped mixed dried fruit (dates, figs, raisins)
¼ cup + 7 tablespoons whole wheat flour
¼ cup brown or white sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
1) Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2) Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl.
3) Pour into a greased or parchment paper-lined loaf pan* and bake for about 30 minutes, until evenly browned on top.
4) Remove from the oven and cool fully. Slice into thin slices and serve (or slice and bake for another 5 minutes for crispy cookies).
*Any standard size loaf pan is fine — if it’s a little smaller the cookies will just be slightly thicker and chewier, and if it’s bigger they’ll be crispier. It’s a forgiving recipe.
Recipe by Orly Ziv of Cook in Israel