The Shabbat Table – A Tu B’shvat Menu from the Mavens

Chicken Marbella (Flickr photo - )

Good Shabbos, Shabbat Shalom! Tu B’Shvat, the New Year for the Trees, is on Monday, January 21st. Those who partake in a Tu B’Shvat Seder will try to eat at least 15 different types of fruits and vegetables. It is customary to include the seven foods mentioned in the Torah: wheat, barley, grapes, dates, figs, pomegranates, and olives (olive oil). It is also a custom to drink four cups of wine—the first cup is all white, the second is mostly white, the third is half and half, and the fourth is all red.

For a fruitful Tu B’Shvat that incorporates the agricultural products enumerated in the Torah as special to the Land of Israel. Read to learn how the mavens make:

  • Ronnie Fein’s Braised Short Ribs with Dried Fruit
  • Dahlia Abraham-Klein’s 7 Species Pomegranate Shaped Challah
  • Jamie Geller’s Shivat Hamanim Salad

 Start off your Shabbat dinner or Tu B’Shvat Seder with a steaming bowlful of my scrumptious Split Pea and Barley Soup:

In the early ’80s, Chicken Marbella was a featured dish at elegant dinner parties and became extremely popular for Passover Seders. Ottolenghi’s Chicken Marbella is also terrific for a Tu B’Shvat Seder or Shabbat. In his version from his new cookbook, Ottolenghi Simple (Penguin Random House), he uses dates instead of prunes, molasses instead of brown sugar, and fresh oregano instead of parsley. He also adds dry white wine, a perfect inclusion for your Tu B’Shvat Seder.

In Ottolenghi’s creative recipe for Cauliflower, Pomegranate and Pistachio Salad, he combines roasted cauliflower with raw grated cauliflower, fresh herbs, pomegranate seeds, and toasted, roughly chopped pistachios. He uses olive oil when roasting the cauliflower as well as in the delicious dressing. Yotam advises: “Don’t throw away the leaves of the cauliflower—they’re delicious to eat, roasted and crisp, or grated raw along with the rest of the cauliflower.” The cauliflower can be roasted 4–6 hours in advance. Keep it at room temperature, combining it with the remaining ingredients when ready to serve.

For his recipe, click here:

SIMPLE is actually an acronym. “S” is for recipes you can make if you are short on time, “I” applies to recipes with 10 ingredients or less, “M” is for make-ahead dishes, “P” is for ones you can make from pantry ingredients, “L” is for lazy (things you can cook in one pot), and “E” is for easier than you think.

For more information about Ottolenghi Simple, see “Simple” Recipes from a Celebrity Chef:



Adapted from Ottolenghi Simple (Appetite Books)

 This is a dish Yotam Ottolenghi regularly cooks for friends. All the work is done in advance—you can marinate it for up to 2 days in the fridge—and then it’s just into the baking pan and into the oven when you’re ready. The chicken loves the long marinating time but it can also be cooked straightaway. If you don’t have the time, if you’re just going to do this, just season the chicken with the 1 tsp of salt and pepper (which would otherwise go into the marinade), rubbing it thoroughly into the skin before combining it with the rest of the marinade ingredients (no more salt required) and bake according to the recipe. He likes to use chicken legs but others prefer chicken supremes (chicken breasts with the wing bone attached), which also work very well. Thanks to Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukin’s The Silver Palate, whose recipe for Chicken Marbella inspired this recipe.


8 chicken legs (drumstick & thigh attached), skin on, bone in) scored a few times (3 lb/1.4 kg)

5 garlic cloves, crushed

3/4 cup fresh oregano leaves, plus extra to serve

3 Tbsp red wine vinegar

3 Tbsp olive oil

1 cup/100 g pitted green olives

6 Tbsp/60 g capers, plus 2 Tbsp of their brine

4 1/4 oz/120 g Medjool dates, pitted and quartered lengthwise

2 bay leaves

Salt and black pepper

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 Tbsp date molasses (or standard molasses)


  1. Place the chicken in a large, non-reactive bowl and add the garlic, oregano, vinegar, oil, olives, capers, dates, and bay leaves, along with 1 tsp salt and a good grind of black pepper. Gently mix everything together, cover the bowl and leave in the fridge to marinate for 1–2 days, stirring the ingredients a few times during the process.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  3. Spread out the chicken legs on a medium high-sided baking pan, along with all the marinade ingredients. Whisk together the wine and molasses and pour over the meat. Place in the oven and cook for 50 minutes, basting two or three times, until the meat is golden-brown on top and cooked through.
  4. Remove from the oven, transfer everything to a large platter, sprinkle over some oregano, and serve.

Serves 4 to 6 generously



This was Ottolenghi’s go-to side for a few months, working well with pretty much anything else on the table. There’s also enough going on, flavour-wise, for it to be lovely as it is, as a main. Peeling so many garlic cloves won’t win any “simple” brownie points, I know, but once done, the simple joy of this dish is that the rice is baked in the oven rather than cooked on the stove. For those who find creating perfectly cooked rice in a pan of simmering water strangely difficult, this will be a revelation. Just make sure the foil is sealed tightly over the dish—you don’t want any steam to escape in the oven.

  • 1 3/4 lb/800 g cherry tomatoes
  • 12 large garlic cloves (or 25 small), peeled (2/3 cup/85 g)
  • 4 large shallots, peeled and cut into 1 1/4-inch/3 cm pieces (1 cup/220 g)
  • 1 1/4 cups/25 g cilantro stems, cut into 1 1/2-inch/4 cm lengths, plus 1/2 cup/10 g leaves, roughly chopped, to serve
  • 3 Tbsp thyme leaves
  • 4 small cinnamon sticks
  • 7 Tbsp/100 ml olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups/300 g basmati rice
  • 2 1/2 cups/600 ml boiling water


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Arrange the tomatoes, garlic, shallots, cilantro stems, thyme, and cinnamon sticks in a large high-sided casserole dish, about 8 x 12 inches (20 x 30 cm). Pour in the olive oil, add 1/2 tsp of salt and a good grind of black pepper, and place in the oven for 1 hour, until the vegetables are soft. Remove from the oven, sprinkle the rice evenly over the vegetables, without stirring them together, and set aside.
  3. Increase the oven temperature to 450°F.
  4. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp of salt and plenty of black pepper over the rice and then carefully pour the boiling water over the rice. Seal the dish tightly with foil and place in the oven for 25 minutes, until the rice is cooked.
  5. Remove from the oven and set aside for 10 minutes, still covered.
  6. Remove the foil, sprinkle with the cilantro leaves, stir these very gently into the rice, and serve.


Serves 6 as a side dish or 4 as a main.