Baby Spinach Salad with Dates & Almonds

Make this salad. Now.

I cook a lot (obviously), but I think this simple salad was the best thing I made this year. Oh, I know there were more impressive and exciting recipes and I loved them all (well, I loved the ones that made it to these pages—there were plenty of duds). But this salad—this salad I want to eat every day. I think I could. I don’t think I would ever grow tired of it. It feels empowering to know that I can easily make something so delicious whenever I want. Isn’t that the ultimate praise of a recipe? It gives you superpowers.

The recipe comes from Jerusalem, the new cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. Jerusalem was the most highly anticipated cookbook of 2012, at least for this blogger. Plenty (Ottolenghi’s previous book) remains a favorite and my dinner at NOPI (his most recent restaurant in London) was the finest food I ate last year. Basically, I am a superfan and have been for years ever since I first ate at Ottolengi. Lucky for all of us, Jerusalem does not disappoint. It is full of recipes that I can’t wait to try, and the ones I have tried have been fantastic. It is also full of stories and images I want consume. It is one of those rare instances where something you anticipate lives up to your expectations.

This fantastic combination of flavors hits all of the right notes. It is also very satisfying to prepare, somehow peaceful. Bryan and I ate the whole thing in one sitting.

Baby Spinach Salad with Dates & Almonds (from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi)

  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 1/2 oz/100g pitted Medjool dates, quartered lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons/30g unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 small pitas, roughly torn into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup/75g whole unsalted almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons sumac
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 5 ounces/150g baby spinach leaves
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • salt

Put the vinegar, onion, and dates in a small bowl. Add a pinch of salt and mix well with your hands. Leave to marinate for 20 minutes, then drain away any residual vinegar and discard.

Meanwhile, heat the butter and half of the olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add the pita and almonds and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring all of the time, until the pita is crunchy and golden brown. Remove from the heat and mix in the sumac, red pepper flakes, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside to cool.

When you are ready to serve, toss the spinach leaves with the pita mix in a large mixing bowl. Add the dates and red onion, the remaining olive oil, the lemon juice, and another pinch of salt. Taste for seasoning and serve immediately.



80 comments to “Baby Spinach Salad with Dates & Almonds”

  1. Hey Jen- First of all- try it with sumac! It is SO good, and sumac is just great to have around. I don’t think I have ever made a salad with meat, so I am probably the wrong person to ask. But it seems like you could just grill a chicken breast and add it to the salad.

  2. This salad was absolutely beautiful, the texture of the fried pita bread added that something extra. Love your writing and photos, only wish you’d post more often! Merry Christmas from Australia.

  3. Perhaps (well, most probably) a stupid question about sumac: what form does sumac come in? a berry? a spice powder form? Thank you for this wonderful site.

  4. Hey Mary Lou- Not a stupid question! Sumac is a berry, but it comes in a ground/powdered form for cooking–that is what you’re looking for.

  5. Looks delish. Can’t wait to try it. Thanks for the Sumac tip – I was wondering about that myself. Cheers

  6. Carolina B says:

    January 6th, 2013 at 3:32 am

    Made this salad for the first time last night. It was so good we are having it again today! We added some crumbled feta cheese to make a complete vegetarian main meal. It was superb. Make the effort to find sumac, it really makes the dish outstanding.

  7. Wow. 2013’s salads are really going to have to work to beat this early front runner. Made it tonight– AMAZING. I need this book.

  8. Seriously, Jaimie. I just made this again last night and it is just so good. Glad you made it!

  9. This is far and away the most delicious salad I’ve ever tasted. Thank you for emphasizing not skipping/switching the sumac! As the roommate who can’t cook, I really appreciate the points this adds to my kitchen cred. :) Thank you!

  10. Peggy- Awesome! So glad it was a success.

  11. Hi Tim – I am a long time fan of your blog, and just wanted to say hi!

    I made this salad for the first time on Friday for a dinner party, and it stole the show! It is so simple and elegant – and the sumac is really exceptional. I served it with Moroccan-spiced chicken with apple cider glaze, and it paired beautifully. I’m going to try it tonight with some leftover roasted chicken added into the salad to make it a full meal. Can’t wait to eat it again.

    Thanks for sharing this lovely recipe, and for your lovely blog!

  12. Made the salad – delicious! The spicy factor was unexpectedly different, really enjoyed it – will be making it again and again for sure.

  13. Just made this & had to comment – it really is delicious!! I had to go to 3 stores to find sumac (duh, should have gone to the wonderful Middle Eastern market on Foster at Clark in the first place!) It was worth it! The only thing I changed was to use red wine vinegar instead of white because that’s what I had on hand. My boyfriend declared it the best salad I’ve ever made. :)

  14. My friend made this salad (along with the hot yogurt and barley soup) for dinner last night. The soup was delicious, but this salad??? The best salad I’ve ever eaten in my whole life! I really can’t stand it, it’s so incredible. Also, we live in Jerusalem, so we’re definitely ordering this cookbook (hadn’t heard of it until you, but between this salad and us living here, we knew we had to get it). We also thought it was funny that most of these ingredients were already in our normal stock–sumac, pita, dates. Thank you!!

  15. Hi Madelyn- Thanks for checking in, I am so glad you liked the salad. It is my favorite, too. Get the book, you’ll love it.

  16. elizabeth madden says:

    February 22nd, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    This is a win. My husband and I couldn’t stop eating it. Thanks Tim!

  17. Fabulous! Making it for the second time this evening per our five year old’s request. Gotta get that cookbook.

    Thanks, Tim.

  18. yum,yum,YUM!
    made this 3 times in a week!

  19. I feel like everybody’s already said it but wow! Loved this salad. My parents immigrated to the US from Lebanon and I spent summers eating a somewhat similar salad – fattoush – at least the similarities are toasted pita and a lemony-olive oil-sumac dressing. This with crisp romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and LOTS of chopped fresh mint. A different salad – but could be a delicious summery alternative. Anyways, so (like everyone) I feel like I need to get this book!

  20. This salad is so delicious! I can’t wait to buy the book.

    My only problem with it is that the pita/almond mixture seems to dwindle away between adding the spices and mixing it into the salad, and I’m left with crumbs around my mouth and fingers. I even brought some into work today, and my little baggy of almonds/pita is already down to half its size. There are tiny specks of sumac all around my keyboard, and I’m worried I won’t have enough for the salad come lunchtime. How does this happen?

    Does anyone have any tips on how to keep it from disappearing? Maybe duct tape over my mouth and mittens on my hands?

  21. I must be the only person in this entire universe that didn’t like this salad. The pita and sumac is genius and delicious. I will use that concept again on perhaps other salads. But the red onion + vinegar + dates??? GROSS. I really wanted to love this salad, especially because I absolutely trust your judgement but I just didn’t get this one. I know I’m in the minority. Still love your blog, btw.

  22. Emi- I bet there is at least one other person in the universe that didn’t like this, maybe two. ; ) Well, better luck next time!

  23. I make this salad over and over and people LOVE IT! Ive changed up the onions (I prefer sweet white onion), and the nuts (ive tried hazelnuts and pecan…the pecans rocked it), and this is a recipe that gets shared everytime I make the salad.
    I love your blog and the photos.

  24. This is a fabulous salad. I only recently discovered medjool dates and am totally in love. Many thanks. It will be a regular.

  25. Thanks for the recipe share. I actually found your website by googling “Jerusalem spinach salad dates” because I LOVE this recipe, but I’m at my boyfriend’s right now and my copy of the book is at home.
    The first two times I made this, I used bagged supermarket pita breads. Both times the salad turned out amazing.
    This time, I thought I’d be a bit special and get amazing, fat, pillowy, delicious fresh pita bread from my favourite Greek takeaway.
    I should have stuck with the cheap stuff! It actually crisped up way easier, and the fatness of the fresh pita which is SO nice fresh actually made it a bit of a workout to chew through.
    It’s still great and we will definitely get through it, but just thought I’d let others know – use cheap and/or stale pita, not good fresh stuff!

  26. Found your site via a link on my usual haunt – a BB for horseowners. Go figure.
    This is the Best.Salad.Ever.
    & you are right, I cannot stop eating it.
    Coming from the depoths of Winter it tastes like Spring.

    The only subs I made were:
    *balsamic since I did not have white vinegar
    *toasted bagel chips (no pita in the house)crumbled into bite-sized
    *sliced almonds (those were in the house).

    And being lazy by Nature, I did the bagel chips & almonds in the microwave – 3-5min on High for single-serving quantities – no stirring.

    Love your blog & will be back.
    I’m a former longtime Chicagoan transplanted to Hoosierland 10yrs ago.

  27. How long before serving the salad can the separate components be made? (i.e. the onion + dates, and the pita bread + almonds)

  28. Hi Aryan- You can probably make the pita/almonds the day before, keep them in an airtight container. The dates and onions should be made right before serving.

  29. This recipe was the first one I tried from “Jerusalem” and I could not agree with you more, one of the best and easiest things I’ve cooked this year!
    I honestly love this cookbook, there are so many vegetarian recipes but also some meat and fish for my family to enjoy;)

    xx Lisa

  30. Tonight for dinner we had this salad made with lacinto kale subbed in for the spinach. Still just as delicious! I stemmed & sliced the kale thin then added the olive oil, lemon juice, & coarse salt & massaged it in. And let it marinate while I prepared the other components.