Thursday, March 24, 2016

Baby Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds

We lived in Jerusalem for 8 1/2 wonderful years. We ate really well from a wide variety of foods. And yet, we never ate many of the foods found in Jerusalem, the cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.  When this book first came out, I was very excited. Although I've had it for three years, this is the first time I have cooked from it.  Thanks to I Heart Cooking Clubs for that.  Without the incentive of joining my fellow cooking bloggers, I would probably have enjoyed reading this book without ever actually making any of the dishes.

I chose to make a salad of baby spinach with dates and almonds. Looking through the list of ingredients, it wouldn't have occurred to me that these flavors would work together. The featured spice is sumac. Sumac? What's that? Apparently, it's a Middle Eastern spice that I never used before and is not commonly found in American grocery stores.  I did a quick internet search while standing in the spice aisle to find a suitable substitute. As sumac is often described as lemony and tart, some suggest using lemon zest, others suggest lemon zest with salt, or oregano or just using za'atar alone. I am sure these are all great suggestions, but in the end I remembered that I pass a Mediterranean deli on my way home from work. Problem solved. They had two kinds of sumac, Turkish and Lebanese. I chose the Lebanese. It has a tangy kick to it and it adds a deep red color to your food.

The recipe can be found in the book, Jerusalem, or here. You marinate dates and onions, sauté almonds and pita, and mix it all with baby spinach and other spices. I like that you use a variety of techniques and seasonings to end up with a beautiful salad layered with sweet and tart flavors.
We really enjoyed this salad. My spouse declared it tasty in a strange way, which I believe he meant as a complement. Both of us did finish the whole salad between us and it was only part of the whole dinner.

This week is potluck week at IHCC, so if you head over to here, you will find a wonderful variety of recipes by great chefs.


  1. I have sumac and haven't used it for a while. This looks like a dish that my family will enjoy. Ottolenghi, whom I saw at 92Y in NYC, recommended "Jerusalem" as a techniques-filled book to start cooking with. You are certainly on the right track. Wonderful salad dish!

  2. This is one of my favorite Ottolenghi salads--the mix of flavors is so good. He brought me to sumac too. I bought a big jar of it (only size they had) at a Mediterranean food store/deli and love the bright flavor it adds. (I have taken to adding to my fried and scrambled eggs too.)

  3. Looks great! I haven't tried this one yet! And if you're looking for another Ottolenghi recipe to use your sumac, I love his za'atar roasted chicken :)

  4. Judy, thanks for this recipe! I've been trying to eat healthily. This salad will be a great addition to my list of recipes. Thanks!

  5. This is one of our favorite salad recipes, we have made it several times. I really like that cookbook too.

  6. I love "Jerusalem" - it is one of my favourite and most frequently used cookbooks, and this salad is one of my favourite recipes in the book. I can't count the number of times I've made this salad now - often just a big bowl of it to devour all on its own as a main meal for myself, and other times as part of a shared meal with friends. No matter what, it always goes down well.

    As an aside, if you want some encouragement to use this book some more, you might be interested in checking out the Tasting Jerusalem group -