Baby Spinach Salad with Dates & Almonds

Intro Collage

“…the inherent passion and energy that Jerusalemites have in abundance results in some fantastic food and culinary creativity…There is something about the heated, highly animated spirit of the city’s residents that creates unparalleled delicious food.  It also has a very obvious effect on the flavors, which are strong and bold, with lots of sour and sweet.”  ~ Yotam Ottolenghi, Jerusalem, A Cookbook

Growing up as a young girl in a large family of Irish and French Canadian descent, a dinner without meat, potato and a token green was…well, it wasn’t dinner.  I don’t believe I dined on salad, as a main dinner entrĂ©e, until I entered college and, even then, the dinner salad was more an economic, rather than culinary, choice.  As time and luck would have it, my palate {and knowledge} evolved a bit over the years {however, I still believe that slow~cooked pot roast, corned beef and mashed potatoes are foods delivered directly from heaven above} and I now know that a dinner salad…the right salad…can be a satisfying way to end the day.  In my opinion, the “right” dinner salad possesses two characteristics:  texture {tender + crunch} and taste {sweet + sour}.  This dinner salad delivers both, and then some…

The foundation for this salad is tender spinach…


Next, sweet Medjool dates and tangy red onion are marinated in biting, acidic vinegar to bring out their best flavor…



While the dried fruit and onions marinate, almonds and torn pieces of pita bread are toasted until crisp and golden…


But the power punch of flavor for this salad comes after the nuts and pita are toasted and then tossed with sumac and crushed red pepper…


Sumac, the spice, is hard to describe, but it surely adds a powerful concentration of flavor to food, in this case the pita croutons, which lend a mighty flavor to the overall salad.  Sweet dates, tangy onion, crunchy nuts and pita flavored with tart sumac and spicy red pepper flakes,  on a bed of tender spinach…this salad has texture and taste covered!


Baby Spinach Salad with Dates & Almonds
Serves 6
  1. 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
  2. 1/2 of a large red onion, peeled + thinly sliced
  3. 7 ounces Medjool dates, pitted + quartered lengthwise
  4. 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  5. 4 tablespoons olive oil
  6. 4 small pitas {about 7 ounces} roughly torn into bite~sized pieces
  7. 1 cup unsalted almonds, coarsely chopped
  8. 1 1/2 tablespoons sumac
  9. 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  10. 8 ounces baby spinach leaves, washed + dried
  11. Fresh lemon wedges {optional}
  12. Salt
  1. Place the dates, onion + vinegar in a small bowl. Add a pinch of salt and mix well with your hands. Leave to marinate for 30 minutes, then drain any residual vinegar and discard.
  2. Heat the butter and half of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pita and almonds and cook for 6~8 minutes, stirring all of the time, until the pita is crunchy and golden brown. Remove the skillet form the heat and mix in the sumac, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt. Set aside to cool.
  3. When you are ready to serve, toss the spinach leaves with the pita mix in a large mixing bowl. Add the dates and red onion, the remaining olive oil and another pinch of salt. Serve immediately with fat wedges of lemon {to squeeze over the salad for additional zing}.
  1. In my family, the affinity for lemon varies greatly. Rather than adding lemon juice to the olive oil for the dressing, I serve fat lemon wedges on the side so everyone can add the amount they desire to their salad.
Adapted from Jerusalem, A Cookbook
This salad was served with a bowl of smooth & creamy Cauliflower Soup {minus the lobster} for a very satisfying, meatless dinner.

K Medium

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