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possibly the best spinach salad

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!

BabySpinachSaladOttolenghi-5

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.

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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 

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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

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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.

BabySpinachSaladOttolenghi-1When you’re ready to serve, toss the pita/almond mix and the spinach into a large bowl.

BabySpinachSaladOttolenghi-2Add the marinated dates and red onion, the last tablespoon of olive oil, the lemon juice and another pinch of salt.

BabySpinachSaladOttolenghi-3

 Taste for seasoning and serve immediately! (as if you’ll need encouragement…)

 BabySpinachSaladOttolenghi-4

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recipe from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi (author also of Plenty)

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to print a copy click here.

Now I’m off for a few days to catch up on some reading! See you in a few…

♥ Spree

52 Comments Post a comment
  1. No. no .. the best spinach salad I made the other day *smile – must admit i’s looking good … that Sumac – I know I will not find .. have to read more about. Tomorrow your tagine and I made your bread again this morning. So this I have to try too.

    January 30, 2013
    • I suppose we could have our salads meet at noon for a duel. Or, better, a dual salad bar. Looking forward to seeing what you do with the tagine you inventive chef you!

      January 30, 2013
  2. What a fantastic sounding combination *and* a great way to make good use of day-old pita. Perfection!
    xo

    January 30, 2013
    • Ah thank you Kathryn! And very happy to see you again! 🙂 xo

      January 30, 2013
      • Silly me, I am so technologically backward that I couldn’t get my subscription to your blog working properly for MONTHS. So now I’m *very* happy to be back in regular readership. Yay! Missed you!! xoxo

        January 30, 2013
        • I have missed You too friend! I’m so happy to see your warm and smiling face here Kathryn! xo!

          February 10, 2013
  3. I’m feeling decadent hoping the pita will hurry up and go stale!

    January 30, 2013
    • 🙂 there’s room for a little decadence in life don’t you think ronnie?

      January 30, 2013
  4. My husband and I have been trying to make more salads lately. The thing is though, that so many salad recipes are really involved or require so many different ingredients that I decide to ditch the salad idea and just make a burger. So, what i really like about your salad is that its relatively straight forward and simple to make with things I usually have around the house. Also, I’ve never tried sumac before (that I know of) So, I really appreciate your adding the note. Otherwise, I would have skipped it, but now I’m completely intrigued.
    ~Anne

    January 30, 2013
    • I had similar thoughts when I came upon this salad Anne…few ingredients, each so well-chosen, simply dressed. And honestly, this salad is better even than it sounds. DO be intrigued by sumac…it’s good stuff! 🙂

      January 30, 2013
  5. We’ve been making lots of new salads since Christmas (although you’d never know if from my blog, heehee).. I love the way these pitas are transformed. I’ve made chips which involved a great deal of cutting and splitting and baking.. this is so much quicker and the addition of almonds would add so much crunch and flavor! I also love that the dates are soaked first.. they must plump up so nicely. I’m pinning this one, spree! xoxo

    January 30, 2013
    • Oh sure! Just share your extraordinary calorie-laden gorgeous desserts with us and keep us in the dark about the salads you’re sneaking! 🙂 And you call yourself a friend! (And you ARE!!) 🙂 Well, you might as well add this salad to your menu because (so long as you & the man can tolerate a bit of spice on your salad) you’re going to really like this one! Thank you for the pin, Smidge! xoxo And Happy Birthday (again) !

      January 31, 2013
      • We love spice here in our kitchen.. I’ll have to try this one for sure:) ps not too many salads hidden in my kitchen, often they’re the kitchen sink variety:D xx

        February 4, 2013
  6. Yum, yum! Be still my drooling mouth. This looks incredible and your photos, as always are stunning! And I love your thriftiness – what a brilliant way to use those pita leftovers. By the way, have I had sumac with you before?

    January 30, 2013
    • Thank you Ashley! These pita croutons, paired with the almonds, and sprinkled with spices were such a tasty addition to this salad. I’ll make them from now on when the pita turns dry! (And I’ll share some sumac with you!)

      January 31, 2013
  7. Boy, this really IS an extraordinary salad! I don’t know why I haven’t made croutons from pita, but I just happen to have some in the fridge that’s a wee bit past its prime… If I can switch out Za’taar for the straight sumac, I’m in business! And thanks also Spree for reminding me once again that I really need to look into purchasing one of Mr.Ottolenghi’s cookbooks. 🙂

    January 30, 2013
    • Betsy, you will SO like this salad…it will be different with the Za’atar, but delicious! The sumac doesn’t have the same earthiness as the Z, and is just brightly tart. Still, your version will be wonderful. Maybe add just a wee bit more lemon juice, but your tastes will guide you for sure! And yes, do get an Ottolenghi book! I have 3, but Jerusalem is my favorite. 🙂

      January 31, 2013
  8. Spree speaks spinach salad truthisms!

    Yes this is flat out a salad to embrace with full on feedbag head gear. The textures in this are really great. The sweet from the dates, the salty-spiciness on the pita and the crunch from the almonds are enough to send the Portly Rodent back to infest the salad bar. 4.9 on the PR scale.

    January 30, 2013
    • It’s always a pleasure to make you smile, Guinea! We’ll be having this again! (and again, again.) xx

      January 31, 2013
  9. Pita croutons are a family favorite, with fattoush salad or sprinkled with some zaatar as a snack for the kids. Having finally made peace with spinach, I can’t wait to tdy this salad. I am really curious about the dates-onion-vinegar combo.

    January 30, 2013
    • Sawsan, I was thinking the same about fattoush and I’ll be definitely employing the croutons there too! I love hearing that your kids like them as snacks! What a great idea! (As for the dates, onion, vinegar combo – I used a white balsamic – not quite as sharply acidic as some other vinegars, but I really loved the way these utterly different tastes played together!)

      January 31, 2013
  10. I love this salad–we had it for dinner tonight! After making it with raw onions I now like the salad even more with the onions thinly sliced and cooked over high heat until they’re browned but still crunchy–THEN I toss them with the vinegar and dates. SO GOOD! You should come say hi on the Tasting Jerusalem Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/TastingJerusalem?fref=ts 🙂

    January 30, 2013
    • Emmy, what a great idea! I’ll try doing the browned and crunchy onion slices next time (which no doubt is right around the corner!) And I WILL come say hi on the Tasting Jerusalem Facebook page! Thanks so much for the idea! (ideas!)

      January 31, 2013
  11. A tale or two to tell..... #

    Yum ! This sounds delicious 🙂

    January 31, 2013
  12. With so many of the people I follow posting recipes from Jerusalem, I should start saving them all. It will save me the price of the cookbook.
    I must say, Spree, if this isn’t the best spinach salad, then I certainly haven’t come across it. Such a great list of ingredients & spices, and marinating the dates in vinegar really has interested me. Great use, too, of the leftover pita. I need to get this cookbook.

    January 31, 2013
    • There was such an interesting play between the sweet soft dates and the acidity of the vinegar. I wouldn’t have dreamed it up, but boy did it work! (I used a white balsamic, but it might not have mattered at all which white wine vinegar. I did like how it paired with the bite of the onion though.) If you end up getting “Jerusalem” your mouth will drop, again and again! My pages are stained with drool. 😉

      January 31, 2013
    • John, treat yourself – you won’t regret it!

      January 31, 2013
  13. It definitely looks delicious Spree!
    Love the variety of colors that you capture in your photos; I’m not a big big fan of salads but this one would be one I would eat without a doubt!

    January 31, 2013
    • hmmm, not a big fan of salads eh? well we’ll have to do something about that Pablo! We’ll start here! 🙂

      January 31, 2013
  14. I don’t think there’s a single recipe in that book that I don’t want to make. It looks great and I bet the flavours were amazing with the dates and sumac…mmmm!

    January 31, 2013
    • Same sentiments Tanya! I’m thinking I might just have to cook Jerusalem from cover to cover, not passing by a single page. (Did you get this book? I can’t remember if this is the one you have.)

      January 31, 2013
  15. Well it does look mighty appealing – lovely shots of a very great looking salad 😀

    January 31, 2013
    • Not wishing to take anything away from any other splendid spinach salad you know…I just flipped when I tasted this one and could not contain my enthusiasm. Neither could the man who eats beside me. 🙂

      January 31, 2013
      • Haha – very good. I know a couple, but they’re ok with it.

        January 31, 2013
  16. Dates, Pita, Spinach? What is not to love. I love this recipe and will try this soon, very soon. Thanks. T

    January 31, 2013
    • Thank You Teresa! Happy this salad grabbed you – you will NOT be sorry! 🙂

      February 10, 2013
  17. God, you’re on a roll. Well, you’re on a pitta, but wonderful ideas. I’m always giving our stale pitta breads to the sheep in the field next door.

    February 1, 2013
    • That’s a lovely use for stale pita too!

      February 10, 2013
  18. What a beautiful salad. I’ve got to get some sumac, and start cooking from Jerusalem which I’ve had for a while but for some reason have simply drooled over and not used. His recipes are soooo good.

    February 1, 2013
    • It DOES seem that one needs to do a bit of drooling before one can narrow such a wide menu down to one item. (At a time.) I did that too for a while…I swear though, I could eat out of this book every day! Do get it out Michelle!

      February 10, 2013
  19. Oh, how I love a good spinach salad. To think that as a child I didn’t appreciate it’s leafy awesomeness! I can practically feel this salad making me smarter…

    February 3, 2013
    • Smarter and stronger (and younger!) with every bite! I Love when a salad can do that!

      February 10, 2013
  20. I love the lemony flavor of sumac. I have two different ones…one from a restaurant that the owner gave me. She said she brought it back from Lebanon and that it is special. I’ll try it on this salad.

    February 4, 2013
    • How wonderful! You will so love it on this salad Karen! What a special treat to have sumac in your kitchen brought in a friend’s hands from Lebanon!

      February 10, 2013
  21. Oooo & Ahhhhh Medjool dates are my love food, had some glorious ones at Christmas… this looks the biz Ani I shall have to get Ottos book out! Your photography just gets better and better – sublime work :)x

    February 7, 2013
    • Well get this love-food of yours in this salad of Ottolenghi, promptly ! You will flip for this dish Lesley! And thank you love for that comment! 🙂 xx

      February 10, 2013
  22. Using stale pita breads is so clever isn’t it! And I see you are still working your way through Ottolengthi 🙂 Loving ALL of these recipes, but then you know I’m biaised!

    February 27, 2013
  23. This is my absolute favorite salad in the whole world. I make extra of the pita/almond mix and snack on it during the week. It was what introduced me to sumac and now I’m am sumac junkie 🙂

    May 26, 2014
    • You are clearly a girl after my own heart! 🙂

      May 26, 2014

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