This is the most fantastic and unusual salad! If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know I LOVE salads. I eat one every day for lunch and would love a salad for dinner too, IF I could only convince my husband the same. This spinach salad with dates & almonds was written up in the dining section of The Times a couple of weeks ago. It is adapted from Jerusalem: A Cookbook that was a big hit when it came out. The onions and dates, macerated in red wine vinegar, the toasted pita bread and almonds with the sumac, hot chiles, spinach and lemon juice all combine to make a really different dish that is just delightful. A little spicy, a little lemony, a little sweet from the dates and savory with salt, it’s a hit!
It was late when we got home last night so I convinced Steve to forgo a starch – meaning no baked potato with our broiled rib steak. “Let’s just have the steak and this salad and some sliced heirloom tomatoes.” Well that was more than enough and frankly, just perfect! I didn’t realize that there’s enough toasted pita bread in the salad to count for a light starch. Really, this was wonderful. And he had the leftovers for lunch today and said the salad was even still good. It held up! I didn’t use baby spinach. I used the fresh leaf spinach that is usually bundled together, stems down. Trim all the stems off and cut the leaves in thirds. This is probably why it held up the second day, better than baby spinach, with this heartier leaf. Whatever you use, I urge you to try this salad. You will LOVE it – and raw spinach is so darn good for you!
SPINACH SALAD WITH DATES & ALMONDS – adapted from Julia Moskin
– serves 4
1 tbs. red wine vinegar
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
4.25 ounces Medjool dates, pitted and quartered lengthwise
2 tbs. unsalted butter
2 tbs. olive oil, divided
2 small whole wheat pitas (about 3 1/2 ounces), roughly torn into 1 1/2” pieces
1/2 cup whole unsalted almonds coarsely chopped
2 tsp. sumac
1/2 tsp. chile flakes
6 oz. baby spinach leaves or leaf spinach, stems removed and leaves cut in thirds
2 tbs. 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 tsp. 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 tbs. olive oil, and the lemon juice. Taste for seasoning and serve immediately.