It is time to use two of the ingredients I brought back from Israel: Dates and Almonds.
I have been eating both with my breakfast – greek yogurt with almonds and fresh fruit, with a date and a fig on the side. But here was my opportunity to make them the stars at dinner-time… Yotam Ottolenghi’s spinach salad with dates and almonds from his Jerusalem cookbook. Pretty fitting given the origin of my dates and almonds.
The other star of this salad is sumac. My husband brought sumac into my life with Persian cooking, now it is one of my favorite flavors. I just wish I could capture the deep red of the spice better.
Pita is used to make the croutons for the salad. I did not have any pita in the house, so I used flatbread. The flatbread worked fairly well, so I would use either in the future.
For the crouton mixture, the flatbread and almonds are toasted in butter and olive oil, then seasoned with sumac, chili flakes and salt – this was out of this world!
Add to this, fresh baby spinach and the dates, which were marinated in vinegar with red onion and the resulting salad is phenomenal! I can say this since Ottolenghi came up with it, not me; but really, it is utterly delicious! If you can get some good Medjool dates and almonds – do this, you won’t be sorry.
Baby Spinach Salad with Dates & Almonds
from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem Cookbook
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
3 1/2 ounces dates (100 grams), preferably Medjool, pitted and quartered lengthwise
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (30 grams)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 small pitas (about 3 1/2 ounces, or 100 grams), roughly torn into 1 1/2 -inch pieces (I used 2 flatbreads)
1/2 cup whole unsalted almonds (75 grams), coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons sumac
1/2 teaspoon chile flakes
5 to 6 ounces baby spinach leaves (150 grams)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Put vinegar, onion and dates in a small bowl. Add a pinch of salt and mix well with your hands. Leave to marinate for 20 minutes, then drain any residual vinegar and discard.
- Meanwhile, heat butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add pita and cook for 4 to 6 minutes, stirring all the time, until pita is golden. Add almonds and continue cooking until pita is crunchy and browned and almonds are toasted and fragrant, about 2 minutes more.
- Remove from heat and mix in sumac, chile flakes and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside to cool.
- When ready to serve, toss spinach leaves with pita mix in a large mixing bowl.
- Add dates and red onion, remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, the lemon juice and another pinch of salt. Taste for seasoning and serve immediately. Enjoy!