As good as your pita may be, occasionally your pita will grow stale. Once you’ve tasted this salad, you’ll make sure that occurs regularly! Pita, past its prime (which happens quite quickly) makes delicious croutons!
Today’s will be a very quick post, on an extraordinary salad. (Another recipe from chef Ottolenghi. Forgive me, I can’t help myself.) This ranks amongst the best salads I’ve eaten, anywhere, ever. In flavor and texture, perfectly balanced. Sweet, tart, spicy heat, soft and crunch. The onions, macerated in vinegar with the dates, now softened and sweetened. The pita & almonds, browned together until crispy, then scattered with spice. The spinach, crisp, green, fresh. Dressed simply in olive oil & lemon.
A salad greater even than the sum of its parts.
NOTE on Sumac: If you don’t have Sumac (get some!) you can find it on line. It’s red like paprika or chili powder, tart like a lemon or cranberries. It sits on many Middle Eastern tables like salt and pepper do on ours. After you’ve made that depression in the middle of your hummus, and filled it with olive oil, sprinkle sumac! You’ll find other uses for it too…it brightens up so many dishes, but if nothing other than to use in this salad, you’ll be happy you and sumac met!
baby spinach salad with dates & almonds & pita croutons
from Yotam Ottolengthi
serves 4 (or so) as a first course
1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
3.5 ounces (100 g) pitted Medjool dates, quartered lengthwise
2 Tablespoons (30 g) unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons olive oil (separated)
1/2 cup (75 g) whole, unsalted almonds, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons sumac (see NOTE)
½ teaspoon chili flakes
5 ounces (150 g) baby spinach leaves
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Into a small bowl measure the vinegar and drop in the onion and dates. Allow to marinate for 20 minutes, then discard the vinegar and set aside the rest.
In the meantime, heat the butter and 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, drop in the broken pieces of pita and the chopped almonds. Cook, stirring all the while, until the pita is golden brown and crunchy. Remove from the heat and scatter with the sumac and chili flakes. Stir and set aside to cool.