Monday, July 15, 2013

Middle Eastern Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds

Today I'm here with the second to last of our fantastic Fourth of July Festivities recipes. This one came to me courtesy of that friend Laura I mentioned the other day, you know, the one whose house we go to and always leave with great new recipes?

Well, Laura and her BFF Chaya have been really into this cookbook, Jerusalem, A Cookbook, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. I took one look at this book and decided it was screaming my name. I just had to have it. It's not a vegan cookbook and it's certainly not oil-free, but with my penchant for Middle Eastern flavors, I guessed it would provide me with great inspiration. And it does. I read pages from it each night before I fall asleep, like a novel. The stories of the people and the food that have all evolved out of this region of the world are enchanting to me.

Laura had served up the Baby Spinach Salad with Dates & Almonds from Jerusalem, A Cookbook at her house, and I fell head over heels in love. The sweetness of the dates, the crunch of the roasted almonds and toasted pita, and the tartness of the pickled onions make for one big taste explosion. For sure I needed to take out the oil and the butter from the original recipe and see what would happen. Using less pita and less almonds also didn't hurt the original recipe a bit, and neither did upping the amount of greens.

Here's my take on Ottolenghi and Tamimi's salad. I've already made it again since the Fourth of July and seriously crave it.

Middle Eastern Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds
adapted from a recipe from Jerusalem, a Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
serves 2-4

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1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
3.5 ounces pitted Medjool dates, sliced into rounds
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 whole wheat pita rounds
7 ounces spinach leaves
1/4 cup toasted almonds, chopped
1 Tbsp Za'atar or sumac
1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2-3 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice (juice of one large lemon)

Place red onion, dates and vinegar in a plastic container with a lid. Secure the lid, shake the container and put aside.

 Toast pita until very crunch, but not burned.

Place spinach leaves, chopped almonds, Za'atar or sumac, and red pepper flakes into a salad bowl.

Break/rip toasted pita into small pieces throw in with the spinach.

Put red onion and date mixture onto spinach. Squeeze lemon juice on and toss salad. Serve immediately.

What combination of salad ingredients do you CRAVE? To leave a comment/view the comments, please click on the title of this post (the orange text above).
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