*Tu B’Shvat (“New Year of the trees”) is one of the minor Jewish holidays. This winter holiday marks when to calculate the agricultural cycle for the purpose of biblical tithes. Each year on Tu B’shvat, Israelis eat a feast of dried fruits in keeping with the “New Year” holiday tradition and celebrating the seasonality of the fruit tree. This recipe would make a great holiday meal.
2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cut into cubes
¼ cup olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
½ lemon, zest only
½ cup dates, pitted
¾ cup dried apricots
¾ cup dried prunes, pitted
¼ cup golden raisins
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1) Heat oil in skillet over med-high heat. Add cubes of lamb and cook until lightly browned on all sides. Add onion with lamb and cook for additional 5 minutes.
2) Add to the skillet 1 cup of water, salt, cinnamon stick, and lemon zest. Cover skillet and cook on low for 45 minutes.
3) While lamb is cooking, boil 1 cup of water in small saucepan. Add dates. Reduce to a low simmer until the dates soften, 15-20 minutes. Drain and place dates in small food processor to puree.
4) Remove lid from skillet with lamb and add the date puree, apricots, prunes, raisins, and brown sugar. Add more water if meat looks dry. Continue to cook on low and covered for 1 hour.
5) Remove cinnamon stick and lemon zest. Serve over rice.
*Recipe by Shelley Neese, vice president of The Jerusalem Connection. Click here for her articles and videos.