Tu B’Shevat, or the 15th of Shevat, is the new year for the trees. I’m celebrating with an Enchanted Broccoli Forest and Ice Cream Bark.
Tu B’Shevat determined the age of fruit trees for tithes and other purposes. It has since taken on ecological and spiritual meanings. This year it begins at sunset Jan. 30 and ends the next night.
“The Enchanted Broccoli Forest” recipe is by Mollie Katzen, a Bay area food writer. It first appeared in her vegetarian cookbook of the same name in 1982. She updated the recipe reducing fat and adding seasonings in a 1995 edition. The recipe below is from the revised edition of “The Enchanted Broccoli Forest” and is used with permission. It has been adapted for style and space.
One Tu B’Shevat tradition is to eat fruits associated with the Torah and Israel. Some include carob as part of this custom. The Ice Cream Bark is topped with raisins (for grapes), dried dates, carob or chocolate chips and pomegranate seeds to make it a fitting end to a Tu B’Shevat meal.
Mollie Katzen’s “The Enchanted Broccoli Forest”
From “The New Enchanted Broccoli Forest”
6 cups cooked white or brown rice, room temperature
1 lb. bunch of broccoli
1 Tbs. butter or oil plus extra for greasing pan
1 cup chopped onion
¾ tsp. salt
1½ tsp. minced garlic
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
½ tsp. fresh ground black pepper, or to taste
1/8–¼ tsp. cayenne, or to taste
2 Tbs. minced fresh dill (or 2 tsp. dried)
3 Tbs. minced fresh mint (or 3 tsp. dried)
¼ cup minced fresh parsley
½ cup shelled sunflower seeds, toasted (optional)
1 packed cup shredded cheddar or Swiss cheese (about ¼ lb.), optional
1 Tbs. melted butter, optional
Fluff rice and set aside. Trim tough bottoms from broccoli stalks. Cut tops into smallish spears of “whatever size suits you.” (Mine were about 3 inches tall.) Steam until bright green and just barely tender. Rinse under cold water, drain and set aside. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.
Add butter or oil to large, deep skillet over medium heat. Once butter is melted or oil heated, add onion and salt. Sauté 5 minutes, or until onion begins to soften. Add garlic and lemon juice. Sauté 2 minutes. Stir in rice, black pepper, cayenne, dill, mint, parsley, sunflower seeds and cheese. Taste. Add more salt if necessary.
Spread into prepared pan. Arrange the broccoli upright in the rice and drizzle with melted butter. Cover pan loosely with foil. Bake 15-20 minutes until heated through. Serve immediately.
Ice Cream Bark
3 cups vanilla or coconut ice cream (dairy or nondairy)
2-3 Tbs. silan (date syrup), honey or agave syrup, optional
½ cup carob chips or chocolate chips (or use a combination)
1 cup pomegranate seeds
½ cup raisins (coarsely chopped if large)
¼ cup coarsely chopped dried dates
¼ cup unsweetened dried coconut chips or flakes, optional
Line a 9×13-inch rimmed pan with parchment paper, plastic wrap or foil. Scoop ice cream into pan. Let soften until just spreadable. Spread an even layer in the pan. Drizzle with silan. Scatter chips, seeds, raisins, dates and coconut over surface and press down so the toppings are touching the ice cream. Cover pan and freeze for 2-4 hours until firm but not totally hardened. Take out of freezer. Let sit until a knife can score the bark into pieces. Break apart. Serve immediately to eat out of hand. Place on plates and let soften to eat with a spoon.