We have been cooking our way through the first cookbook in a very long time that has moved us this much, and when challenged with the project of cooking with dates, we didn’t have to stray one page from Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. Dates originate from that very region!
Jerusalem’s recipe for Baby Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds is perfect right now because 1) we are still in the zone in which we care about sticking to our New Year’s resolution of “eat well,” and…
2) the salad requires ingredients that are either available almost year-round or easily substitutable (we thought the baby spinach at our market looked a little pale so we bought baby kale instead).
A small-ish portion of this salad is a great start to dinner. A larger portion of the salad is what we had as a light lunch with a glass of wine.
Baby Kale (Spinach) Salad with Almonds and Medjool Dates
This recipe is based on Yotam Ottolenghi’s Baby Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds in the Jerusalem cookbook. It is almost exactly the same recipe except for our substitution of baby kale for the original spinach, as well as few minor adaptations, which we note in parentheses.
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
3½ ounces pitted Medjool dates, quartered lengthwise (we used about 6 large dates)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (we left out butter and used 2 tablespoons graepseed oil)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 small pitas, roughly torn into 1½-inch pieces
½ cup whole unsalted almonds, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons sumac (we left this out)
½ teaspoon chile flakes
5 ounces baby spinach leaves (we used baby kale)
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 ¼ 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.