This week at I Heart Cooking Clubs, where we last week began our journey of cooking with Yotam Ottolenghi, we are all about Loving the Leaf! There is certainly no shortage of inspiration in any of Ottolenghi's books for turning out dishes of leafy green goodness, but with his latest book Jerusalem: A Cookbook being the most recent addition to my collection that was where I turned first. With so many great choices here (Raw Artichoke & Herb Salad; Kohlrabi Salad with Watercress & Mint; Swiss Chard Fritters; Swiss Chard with Tahini, Yoghurt & Buttered Pine Nuts; Split Wheat & Swiss Chard with Pomegranate Molasses; Watercress & Chickpea Soup with Rose Water & Ras el Hanout), and that was just in the first half of the book, I needed to look no further. I would happily devour any one of those dishes, but it was this recipe for a salad of baby spinach leaves tossed with dates, almonds, and crispy croutons that really took my fancy. Spinach is without doubt my favourite leafy green, and any kind of spinach salad is a favourite meal for me on just about any occasion - combine that with sweet, sticky dates, crunchy nuts and croutons, a little bit of lemony tang from a touch of sumac, and a little kick of heat from chilli flakes, and I am in leafy, salady heaven.
This salad delivered on all fronts - texture, taste (just the right amount of that sweet, salty, sour going on), and leafy goodness. I made a couple of small changes - I subbed in fennel in place of red onion, which I'm not particularly fond of raw in salads, and I replaced pita bread croutons with sourdough, because that's what I had on hand. I also adjusted quantities to make a delicious lunch for one person. This certainly won't be the last time that this salad graces my lunch table.
Baby Spinach Salad with Dates & Almonds Recipe
Adapted from recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi
Makes a generous meal for one person, or a side for two
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe
1/2 a large fennel bulb, very thinly sliced
(a mandolin is ideal for this if you have one)
3x Medjool dates, cut into quarters, lengthwise (stones discarded)
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
knob of butter
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for dressing
thick slice sourdough bread, cut into cubes
small handful raw almonds, very roughly chopped
1 teaspoon sumac
chilli flakes to taste
2x large handfuls baby spinach leaves
juice of 1/2 lemon
flaky sea salt
Put fennel and dates into a small bowl, add the vinegar and a small pinch of salt, toss well and set aside for about 15-20 minutes.
In the meantime, heat the oil and butter in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add the bread cubes and almonds to the pan and cook until they are crisp and golden brown - stir regularly. Remove pan from the heat; add the sumac, chilli flakes and another small pinch of salt. Mix well and set aside to cool.
Toss the spinach leaves with toasted bread and almonds. Add the dates and fennel, lemon juice, a generous drizzle of olive oil and another pinch of salt. Taste to check seasoning, and when it is balanced to your taste, serve immediately.
If you would like to get to know Yotam Ottolenghi a little better, then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and see what they've all cooked up ...
... or check out Jerusalem and Ottolenghi's other great titles available from Amazon USA, Amazon UK or Fishpond NZ.
I will also be sharing this post at See Ya In the Gumbo hosted by the lovely Michelle at Ms. enPlace, and at Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays hosted by my friend Deb at Kahakai Kitchen.
I love this salad...I think it was the first thing I made from Jerusalem. For me it is the dates that make it special, they deliver such a lovely rich sweetness, and the crunchy pita or croutons also work a treat.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Mairi - yes, it was all about the dates and croutons for me too. I know I'll be making this over and over again.Delete
I'm making this salad today and can't wait! It sounds super delicious.ReplyDelete
Hope you enjoy it, Joanne - I know this is the kind of dish that you would love.Delete
Clever girl with your substitutes! A hint on onions in salads - I have begun to slice purple onions for salads and saute them in just a bit of butter to begin caramelizing them. While they still have a bit of bite, I remove them from the heat and use them to top the salad ... no hot bite, but a soft sweet addition to the the crunchy greens. If you try it, let me know what you think.ReplyDelete
This salad really appeals to me, as spinach is my favorite all-around green leafy ingredient! Plus, I love almonds and dates together ... sounds like a keeper recipe!
Thanks for the tip on the onions, Susan - that's a great idea.Delete
Definitely a keeper recipe - the dates and almonds work really well together.
Beautiful salad with lots of great flavors! Thanks for sharing :)ReplyDelete
Happy Valley Chow
Thanks, Eric :-)Delete
This is a lovely salad! Dates in salad is something that I have never tried before, and sounds good with almonds, one of my favourite nuts! Would love to give this salad a try!
Thanks, Joyce. The dates seem to work particularly well with the spinach. I remember having a very interesting salad in Greece once too that also had dates in it.Delete
I can just imagine how well the little bites of sweet dates work! It looks delicious.ReplyDelete
Thanks - I think the good thing is it would work just as well with dried dates if you couldn't get fresh ones.Delete
I have this one tagged to make--so fresh and pretty. I loved that you subbed in fennel for the onion--an excellent choice! ;-)ReplyDelete
Thanks, Deb - I know that you will really enjoy this one.Delete
A lady after my own heart. Spinach is my favorite of any vegetable. I also marked this recipe to try, but with pecans instead of almonds. Sure looks like a memorable salad.ReplyDelete
Thanks for linking, Sue!Delete
I remember that spinach is your favourite, Michelle - I know that you will love it. I think pecans would be a great alternative to almonds.Delete
Isn't Jerusalem the most gorgeous book? I haven't made this yet, but really have to! Thanks for reminding me. Hope all is well xReplyDelete
Lucy, you're right - Jerusalem is a stunning book. Hope you make this soon - I know you'll like it and it's perfect for this time of year.Delete
This one looks a lot easier than the one I made. I think I'll try it for lunch this week. Thank you for sharing (and your pictures are stunning!).ReplyDelete
Renia, it was very quick and easy to put together for a quick lunch.Delete
Looks delicious, I love spinach with sweet notes. Usually balsamic vinegar or mango dressings. The addition of fennel makes it just that little bit more exciting.ReplyDelete
Thanks, David. I'm with you - I love sweet with spinach too - especially balsamic or pomegranate molasses dressings. I love the addition of the aniseed flavour of fennel.Delete
Sounds great, but maybe for me I would leave out the dates, I don't fancy them in savory dishes... Ottolenghi mixes too much sweet and savoury ingredients for my taste, I have one book and haven't used it yet, but will try one day :-).ReplyDelete
Thanks Alessandra. I love those combinations of sweet and savoury together - it always seems to exotic to me - but I know that it's not everyone's taste.Delete
What a great combination of flavors!ReplyDelete
This truly is a fabulous salad! I like your substitution of fennel - I'm a big fan of it. There's so much going on with the sweet, crunchy, spicy flavors and textures. Now I'm quite hungry!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Hannah. I was pleased with the substitution of the fennel - it is one of my favourite vegetables, and it worked well in this salad.Delete
Oh Sue, this is a texture and flavor explosion. I have to confess that I am absolutely crazy about dates. It is very hard for me to get them here, but they are always worth seeking out. Of all the recipes in Jerusalem, this is the one that calls to me the most. So happy you made it and shared. I will definitely make this during our time with YO.ReplyDelete
you are definitely a lady after my own heart as I HATE raw onions and I also use baby spinach for most of my salads and most salad recipes include onions and you replaced it with one of my fave veggies - your version of this spinach salad I could eat at any time!ReplyDelete