Lag B’Omer Carob Treats

— by Abby Contract

Today’s carob treats are a long way from those carob-covered pretzels that my health-nut aunt served us in the 1970s. They are much more sophisticated — carob fudge, candy brittle, fancy cakes — probably because of the growth of the health conscious food movement, specifically the vegan community. Carob can satisfy your sweet tooth and it is low in fat, high in fiber and unlike chocolate, has no caffeine.

In Lag B’Omer, Jews get a reprieve from forbidden acts and celebrate with bonfires, food and dancing. Most Jews, cavorting round the fire, eating Israeli food of hummus & shish kebabs, and drinking beers, are not thinking about whose death they are commemorating: Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, the second-century author of the Zohar (which contains mystical interpretations of the Torah), and chief source of the Kabbalah.

After witnessing the torture and death of his great teacher Rabbi Akiva by the Romans, the infamous persecutors of Jews who ruled Israel, Rabbi Shimon bad-mouthed the Romans.One of Rabbi Shimon’s students betrayed him to the Romans.

Rabbi Shimon and his son fled and eventually settled down in a cave in northern Israel, where they, according to the tale, lived for thirteen years buried naked (so that their clothes lasted longer) to their necks in the sand and studying Torah. Miraculously, a carob tree grew at the foot of the cave and provided nourishment for the father and son. They survived until the Emperor died and it was safe to leave the cave.

This tale is the reason that many modern-day party goers eat carob at their Lag B’Omer celebrations. Hopefully by eating this treat my kids will miraculously be nutritionally and spiritually fortified.

Maple and Carob Chip Granola Bars, courtesy of Whole Foods Market

Photo by Sarah R

Photo by Sarah R.

  • four cups quick cook oats
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup vegan carob chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (I substituted freshly shredded coconut from a whole coconut.)

(Note: I added a teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/3 cup of carob chips. The latter was added after the mixture cooled a bit. When you initially blend the warm oats and the syrup/oil mixture, the carob chips melt. I wanted to have some whole carob chips to increase the crunch of the bars.)

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Spread oats onto a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Stirring occasionally.
  3. Mix together oil, syrup, vanilla, carob chips and walnuts in a large bowl. Add warm oats and stir well.
  4. Spread oat mixture into a greased 9×13-inch baking dish, pressing down hard to compact it. Bake for between 25 and 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
  5. Cool completely, then cut into bars.

Abby Contract is the creator of Phoodistory.

Honi The Circle Maker’s Carob Delicacies

— by Ronit Treatman

One of the most beloved stories told during Tu B’Shevat is that of Honi The Circle Maker Babylonian Talmud, Ta’anit, 23a.

Honi was a great teacher who lived in Ancient Israel. He was known for drawing a circle on the ground and then praying inside it. He would not leave the circle until he was done.  

One day, he came upon an old man holding a shovel and a tiny sapling. Honi asked the old man, “Why are you planting this small tree? How long will it be before it can bear fruit for you to eat?”

The old man responded, “This is a carob tree. It will take seventy years for it to give fruit.”  

“Then why plant it?” Honi asked. “You will not live to enjoy it!”

The rest of the story and two carob recipes after the jump.

The old man responded, “When I was a young boy, I ate the fruit from the carob tree that my grandfather had planted. Now I am planting a carob tree for my grandchildren.”  

Honi smiled and continued on his way to teach at his Beit Midrash. Honi was very tired. He decided to rest for a while. Honi made himself comfortable on some grass, and watched the old man finish planting the carob tree. Honi closed his eyes and slept. He slept for seventy years! When he woke up, he saw a boy picking ripe carob pods from a large tree.  

Honi asked the boy, “Who planted this tree?”

“My great-grandfather,” replied the boy.

Honi understood what the old man was doing all those years ago. Each generation needs to take care of nature and leave a legacy of trees for those to come.  

Tasting treats made with carob during the Tu B’Shevat Seder is just as much fun as recounting this story. I like to use carob “honey.” This is the thick syrup that forms inside the carob pod when it is ripe. You may purchase carob syrup here.

Dibs Kharoub U Tahineh: Tahini and Carob Spread
This is a very ancient Middle Eastern recipe, the Biblical peanut butter and jelly.

  • Raw Tahini (available here)
  • Carob Syrup
  1. Mix one tablespoon of tahini with one tablespoon of carob syrup.  
  2. Spread over fresh, hot pita bread.

One of the most exotic eggplant dishes I have ever tried is a meze traditionally served in Turkey, Syria, and Jordan. It is made with grilled eggplant, almonds, and carob honey.

Adapted from The Middle Eastern Kitchen by Ghillie Bassan

  • 2 eggplants
  • 2 tablespoons carob syrup
  • 3 tablespoons roasted, chopped almonds
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 chili pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 lemon, squeezed
  • 3 tablespoons plain yogurt (labneh is best)
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh, chopped mint leaves

  1. Roast the eggplants until they become soft.
  2. Allow the eggplants to cool to room temperature.
  3. Cut the eggplants in half, and scoop out the flesh.
  4. Mash the eggplant.
  5. Mix in all the other ingredients.
  6. Serve with fresh, hot pita bread.