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
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.