Baby spinach salad with dates & almonds

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I know I am going through an Ottolenghi stage (and there is more to come) but don’t worry, it won’t last.  I go through stages all the time.  This is the salad recipe I have been wanting to post for ages.  At first I didn’t like the photo, then I thought, “Too much Ottolenghi”  and then I thought, “What the hell!”  This is a great salad, light and simple: just as a salad should be.  I have made it three times in the last month so it must be good.

If you don’t have an Ottolenghi book, do yourself a favour and get at least one.  My favourite is Ottolenghi The Cookbook but I also like Jerusalem.  I am yet to explore PlentyPlenty More is still on the horizon.  This recipe is from Jerusalem.

This salad is all about the crunch from the nuts and pita.  Whatever you do, don’t add the pita and nut mixture too early, if you do, the bread will go soggy.  Leave it to the last minute to add them.

The salad will serve 4-6 with a meat accompaniment.  Don’t make too much as it will be very limp the next day.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbs* white wine vinegar
  •  ½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 100g pitted dates, chopped (The recipe actually calls for Medjool dates quartered lengthways.  I made it with  Medjool dates the first time but I couldn’t discern anything special so I have used ordinary dates since.  Also, I prefer the dates chopped. Please yourself.)
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 2 tbs* olive oil
  • 2 small pitas, about 100g, chopped into pieces.  (I use Lebanese bread.)
  • 75g raw almonds, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp sumac
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • 150g baby spinach leaves
  • 2 tbs* lemon juice
  • salt

*These are 15mil tablespoons.

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Method:

  1. Put the vinegar, onion and dates in a small bowl. Add a pinch of salt and mix well. Leave to marinate for, at least, 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium frying pan.
  3. Add the pita and cook until the pita is golden, stirring all the time.
  4. Add almonds and continue cooking until pita is crunchy and browned and almonds are toasted and fragrant, about 2 minutes more.
  5. Remove from heat and mix in the sumac, chili flakes and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Set aside to cool.
  6. When ready to serve toss in a large salad bowl, the spinach leaves, the dates and red onion mixture, the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, the lemon juice and another pinch of salt .
  7. Toss in the pita mix and serve immediately.

13 thoughts on “Baby spinach salad with dates & almonds

  1. The salad (as well as the photo) look great Glenda. I love a good spinach salad for a change and this one is just so different from anything I’ve ever tried. Love the nuts in there! I just had a great salad at a restaurant recently that had honeyed roasted pistachio nuts in it & now I’ve got to find out how to do that – without making a total sticky mess of things that is.

  2. With it’s toasted pita, this is like a Middle Eastern panzanella. I bet it’s wonderful., Glenda. If you’re preparing dishes like this one, may your Ottolenghi phase continue for some time. 🙂

  3. What a great idea to use crisped pitas, and dates & nuts in a salad are a great way to make it enticing to the G.O. I like bread as a salad ingredient – when we can get good tomatoes I make an Italian (I think is where I got the inspiration from) bread salad. Crisped chopped sour dough tossed with tomatoes, onions & basil with dressing of choice 🙂

  4. This looks delicious Glenda. I got a bit frustrated with Ottolenghi last summer so have given him a wide berth since. There’s no denying his ideas are fantastic though!

  5. I’m with you… I’m doing an Ottolenghi thing too, along with some very old favourites from my own repertoire, as well as some Luke Nguyen, Valli Little and…. oh, it’s endless! xox

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