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.