Exploring different flavors is something that Phil and I feel very passionate about. In fact, it probably has bonded us over the years. It also goes beyond food. Our love for other cultures and getting to know people different from us is something we both feel very drawn to. For us, food is the medium for our exploration. This recipe for Baby Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds is crazy simple, but its flavors are put together in a way that makes it so unique and complex.
Now, I would love to tell you this recipe is completely ours but it is not. We have made some tweaks, but this recipe is from the beautiful cookbook “Jerusalem” by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. Jerusalem is the one I constantly crack open and refer to. It is also the cookbook that I have delusions of grandeur about and want to cook almost every recipe it contains. It has opened my world to Middle Eastern cooking and I am incorporating more and more ingredients from this region into my everyday cooking. The cookbook also contains a recipe for shawarma spice mix, and it is perfection. We have put it on chicken, lamb, and pork. I can imagine it would also be wonderful on fish. That recipe alone is worth the price of the book.
This spinach salad is a wonderful combination of flavors. There is crunch from the crispy pita and almonds that have the perfect amount of spice and flavor, then the pickled onions and sweet dates add another layer of flavor. All finished with lemon juice at the end brightens everything up. I would have never thought to put these flavors together in a salad, and this is why I feel that learning about food from other cultures is so important. It gives you a different perspective to approach cooking and different perspectives when it comes to life in general.
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 7-8 pitted Medjool dates, sliced lengthwise
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 whole wheat pitas, torn into small pieces
- ½ cup whole unsalted almonds, chopped
- 2 tsp sumac, optional
- ¾ tsp chile flakes
- 5 oz baby spinach leaves
- 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Place the vinegar, onion and dates in a small bowl, add a pinch of salt and mix well with your hands. Allow it to sit for 20 minutes, then drain any residual vinegar and discard.
- Meanwhile, heat the butter and 1 tbsp olive oil, in a medium sized frying pan over medium heat. Add the pita and cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring constantly until the pita is crunchy and golden brown. Remove from the heat and stir in the sumac, chile flakes and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Allow to cool.
- Once ready to serve, toss the spinach leaves and pita mix in a large bowl. Add the dates and red onion, the remaining olive oil, lemon juice, and another pinch of salt. Serve immediately.
If you like this recipe checkout our Middle Eastern Pot Roast!