Spinach Salad with Dates

Hello!  As promised, here is another recipe from Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Ottolenghi and Tamami which inspired the menu for my friend Sue's 50th birthday party.  The cookbook shares a story of how freshly made pitas have a very short shelf life, ideally they are eaten within a few hours of baking.  So, to make use of leftover pitas, crunchy croutons are made, then scattered over salads and soups.   

Although I did enjoy the pita croutons, I thought the highlight of the salad were the dates and pickled onions.  The recipe method recommends the dates and onions to marinated 20 minutes, but I found that this was not enough time to soften the onions.  I allowed my ingredients to marinate overnight, then poured over the spinach prior to serving.  I also found that the amount of vinegar and oil was not quite enough to marinate those ingredients, so I double the amount.  I noted the amount I used in parenthesis in the ingredient list.  

This spinach salad had a nice balance of sweet and tangy flavors compliments of the dates and onions.  The salad also offered soft and crunchy textures to stimulate the palate.  I hope you enjoy this new variation of a spinach salad.

CLICK HERE for a printer friendly recipe

 Ingredients for Spinach Salad with Dates (serves 4-8)

  • 1 (2) tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 (4) tbsp extra virgin olive oil + 2 tbsp for cooking pita
  • 2 (4) tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 100 g (about  1 cup) of Medjool dates, quartered lengthwise
  •  2 small pitas, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 75 g (about 3/4 cup) of unsalted almonds or pistachios 
  • 2 tsp of sumac
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 142 g baby spinach, wash and pat dry
  • 1-2 pinches of coarse salt

Directions for Spinach Salad with Dates

  1. Place sliced dates and onions into a mason jar or medium bowl.  Add a pinch of salt.  Pour vinegar, olive oil, and lemon juice over the dates and onions.  Toss together, marinate 20 minutes or up to overnight.  Shake mason jar or toss periodically to continue to coat. 
  2. Heat olive oil in large frying pan over medium heat.  Add cut pita, cook until golden, stirring occasionally.  Add nuts.  Continue to cook until pita is brown and crunchy.  Remove from heat.  Add sumac, chili, and salt.  Allow to cool.
  3. When ready to serve, place washed spinach into a large bowl.  Add marinated dates and onions.  Toss with spinach.  Add toasted pita and nuts.  Toss and serve.