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.
Fork and Whisk says:
October 23rd, 2012 at 9:47 pm
Sometimes simple is best. It looks great and is healthy. Thanks for sharing.
Mary Anne says:
October 23rd, 2012 at 10:43 pm
wow! well with that kind of praise, how can i not try this??
October 23rd, 2012 at 11:22 pm
“cook for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring all of the time”
How about that for a recipe instruction? I’ll take it though, this looks delightful! I’m particularly excited for the quick pickling of the onions and dates. Wonderful!
October 23rd, 2012 at 11:34 pm
This looks amazing! for a college student, this has more exotic ingredients than i am used to, this is the first recipe i’ve seen a recipe that require pita bread since i usually only eat those when i’m at a greek restaurant. would also have to look around for dates and sumac, i don’t think i’ll be finding that at the Stater Brother’s where I normally go. I definitely want to give this a go, it looks really good
Jules from merci mama says:
October 24th, 2012 at 12:18 am
My copy of Jerusalem just arrived yesterday and I can’t wait to try the recipes. Like you Plenty is definitely one of my faves in my collection. This salad looks amazing and you’re right, it’s always the simple things I think that taste the best. If you’re using great produce, you don’t need to do a lot to it right?!
October 24th, 2012 at 3:47 am
Doesn’t seem that simple(to my definition)…maybe ” simple enough”, but the sumac…there’s the hook. I can’t wait to make this. Thanks
October 24th, 2012 at 8:11 am
This will go on our star salad list! Did you eat in the main dining room or downstairs at Nopi? We’re going to London in January, and I’m trying to decide between the two (prices are the same — just wondering if the communal table and views of the kitchen are an advantage or too distracting).
October 24th, 2012 at 8:36 am
Hi Kristi- I am jealous of your trip! We ate in the main dining room, but went downstairs to check it out. The upstairs dining room is SO beautiful, that I would pick it. Also, I sort of hate communal dining. But! Definitely go downstairs to take a peak into the kitchen and see the most beautiful bathrooms ever. You’re going to love it!
Cowen Park Kitchen says:
October 24th, 2012 at 9:13 am
Anything with dates, I will try!
October 24th, 2012 at 10:40 am
wonderful! I’ve been kind of intimidated by the recipes in PLENTY because they’re more labor-intensive than what I usually want to be doing on a weeknight for dinner. but this looks totally doable and delicious!
jan canyon says:
October 24th, 2012 at 11:07 am
I just got a bottle of Sumac and this looks like the perfect first use for it. Anything spinach or dates and I’m on board. Lovely photography. What camera do you use for food pics? I am in the market for a new one. Thanks, as ever…
October 24th, 2012 at 11:25 am
I have their previous cookbook but just realized that I haven’t made anything from it yet (doh!). This salad looks amazing and I love something that uses dates and sumac. Will try this for sure with that kind of recommendation!
October 24th, 2012 at 11:53 am
Hi Jan- I use an old Canon Digital Rebel something. It is probably 8 years old and I have exactly one fixed lens for it. I really do like Canon, and when I get around to replacing it I will buy another Canon digital SLR.
October 24th, 2012 at 11:53 am
Oh, crap, now I’ve got to go out and buy ANOTHER cookbook by these guys. The salad sound does sound delicious. Thanks for the heads up. Ken
October 24th, 2012 at 12:22 pm
How many will this serve?
October 24th, 2012 at 12:42 pm
Hi Marcie- As I said in the post- it served two of us. I don’t know how else to respond to that question. It depends on how much you want to eat? If it is being served with something else? etc.
Pam @ Sticks Forks Fingers says:
October 24th, 2012 at 12:44 pm
Tim, did you happen to hear the charming NPR interview with Yotam and Sami? If not, here it is. http://n.pr/TaR2bX
Thanks for everything. You’re the best!
October 24th, 2012 at 12:47 pm
Oh, thanks, Pam! Excited to listen.
October 24th, 2012 at 3:07 pm
I love sumac! This salad looks beautiful and delicious. I’m waiting for my copy of Jerusalem to arrive. Can’t wait to get my hands on this book! Love your photos!
October 24th, 2012 at 3:08 pm
Oh this book looks amazing. I love Ottolenghi and read hid weekly article in The Guardian newspaper every week with joy!
I know by the ingredients this must taste great. Love Sumac so much :)
Simon @ SoyRiceFire.com says:
October 24th, 2012 at 8:18 pm
Love the salad – a great play on textures and flavors.
October 25th, 2012 at 6:38 am
Nice! I’m gonna try it out, we still have fresh baby spinach at the farmer’s market. Looks great :)
October 25th, 2012 at 7:27 am
Oh, lunch today! I am crazy for dates and almonds, I always have both on hand. I like to remove the pit of the date and replace with an almond. Combining in a salad, fabulous! Thank you, Tim for sharing.
October 25th, 2012 at 9:28 am
Tim! You posted this at the most perfect time. I’ve been anxiously waiting for my copy of Jerusalem to arrive and this post just makes me even more excited about my new cookbook purchase. And, since I was back home in NYC for a week (and ate a lot of amazing pizza, pasta, middle-eastern food, Italian pastries, etc.etc.), i’ve been dying to make something light(er) now that I’m back in my own kitchen. As always, your photos make me hungry. Thanks for this one!
October 25th, 2012 at 9:41 am
Glad you guys like the sound of this! I think you’ll enjoy eating it even more. : )
October 25th, 2012 at 9:52 am
I got my copy of “Jerusalem” last week and I was so excited upon opening it. This salad caught my eye and I’m glad to see it as was turned out to be as good as it looked!
Although I love Ottolenghi’s and Tamimi’s vegetable recipes, I found myself drawn to the Tahini Cookies for my first recipe from the book. I have the feeling “Jerusalem” going to see a lot of love in my house!
October 26th, 2012 at 7:21 am
Delicious- looking, a sweet component, and almonds for crunch…meets my requirements for a satisfying entree salad. I’ll be trying this soon!
October 26th, 2012 at 8:37 pm
Made this tonight for company. It was wonderful….a real hit! Loved the combination, though I had to go to great lengths to get sumac. It was worth it! Thanks for sharing….
October 27th, 2012 at 7:19 am
Timing! My copy of Jerusalem arrived on Wed, and we had a dinner party Fri using those gorgeous recipes! This salad was divine as was the pumpkin and tahini, and the roasted cauliflower and hazelnut. And the burnt eggplant was phenomenal- still dreaming about it. Likewise the hummous and the felafel was perfect. Joy! Enjoy!
October 27th, 2012 at 9:35 am
This salad is the BEST. I could also eat it every day! I saw the recipe in the book, at Costco no less, and wrote down the name (of that particular salad) to try to find something similar online. I was so excited to find the exact recipe….thank you…and made it last weekend. It was for a dinner made jointly by a friend and me, she made a chicken tagine and I made a couscous dish and this salad. It definitely lived up to, and exceeded, my expectations and was enjoyed by everyone. We all had seconds and left the bowl empty!
October 28th, 2012 at 4:58 am
You were right Tim. Go and make this salad now! It was delicious. I made it last night for my family and it was perfect for a hot spring evening BBQ. The chilli flakes gave it a fantastic kick and I love that this is so simple and incredibly tasty. Will be a regular on the repertoire this year.
Cookie and Kate says:
October 28th, 2012 at 9:25 pm
The best thing you’ve made all year? Say no more, I am SOLD. Ottolenghi’s book should be arriving within the next few days, seriously can’t wait.
October 29th, 2012 at 4:42 pm
I stumbled across your beautiful blog this morning, and literally dropped my entire afternoon to read it all the way down through the archives to the beginning. Just.. gorgeous. So unpretentious and effortlessly classy. I can’t wait to see more – thank you!
October 29th, 2012 at 9:54 pm
I have the earlier book ‘Plenty’ and it is a visual treat, not to mention the amazing recipes. You are seriously tempting me to buy Jerusalem. What a gorgeous dish!
Cook with Basil says:
October 30th, 2012 at 5:39 am
Looks absolutely delicious! I’m going to try it some time this week!
October 31st, 2012 at 8:23 am
Jennifer- SO nice to hear. Thanks for taking the time to write.
Ryan Saxby Hill says:
October 31st, 2012 at 9:10 am
I’ve made this now twice in the last week! It’s great. I couldn’t find sumac in time, so I’ll be making this again as soon as I find some.
October 31st, 2012 at 9:14 am
Oh, I am excited for you to find sumac, Ryan! Mind will be blown. Well, that may be an overstatement but I think you will like it.
October 31st, 2012 at 2:18 pm
I have been waiting for this book too… this summer I was in the UK for work and I convinced a friend I was staying with to go up to London. We went to the Ottolenghi restaurant in Notting Hill… when we walked out she asked what now…I said whatever, I’ve done what I needed to do… that had been my reason for coming to London, and it was the best… what brilliant food!
October 31st, 2012 at 2:20 pm
Hey Shaun, Agreed! It is pretty great food. If you’re there again soon, check out NOPI. I think you’ll love it.
November 2nd, 2012 at 4:38 pm
I made this and it was pretty fantastic. I halved all ingredients except for the spinach which I doubled (used 1 box) and it served two. We could have eaten double!
Add a Little Lemon says:
November 2nd, 2012 at 10:57 pm
Done and done! This looks AMAZING. Thank you for always being an inspiration in the kitchen.
November 7th, 2012 at 7:50 pm
Hi Tim! Just bought lovely Medjool dates and almonds, cannot wait to try this recipe! Can you tell me if you use the pita bread with the pocket or the softer ones without a pocket? I’m guessing either would work, wondered which you prefer? Thanks!!
November 7th, 2012 at 8:01 pm
Hi Shelby- I made it with the pitas that have pockets. I liked it because it was thinner. BUT, either will work. Let me know what you think!
November 8th, 2012 at 9:08 am
Hi Tim, I just stumbled upon your blog – looks great! And I’m a huge Ottolenghi fan, too, I have all three cookbooks and they love them. He changes my general way of cooking…. will try the salad recipe tonight.
All the best from Munich.
November 9th, 2012 at 4:46 am
Hi thanx for the recipe , bt what can I substitute the white wine vinegar since as Muslims alcohol is prohibited. Plz advice
November 9th, 2012 at 9:39 am
Hi Soos- you could try substituting another vinegar (white, malt, cider). I haven’t tried it, but should be no problem.
Natasha @ Smorish says:
November 14th, 2012 at 8:28 am
Yum! This salad looks delicious. Fantastic photos too!
November 21st, 2012 at 3:21 pm
I still have some spinach in the fridge. Have to try this salad!
December 2nd, 2012 at 1:22 pm
I loved this salad. Didn’t have sumac so used zataar instead. It worked really well. I would love to try this with some chicken and bulk up the salad more. Any suggestions for how to adapt the recipe accordingly?
December 3rd, 2012 at 9:44 am
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.
December 25th, 2012 at 1:13 am
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.
Mary Lou says:
December 28th, 2012 at 12:55 pm
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.
December 29th, 2012 at 10:26 am
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.
Chocolate Cake Blog says:
January 4th, 2013 at 1:21 am
Looks delish. Can’t wait to try it. Thanks for the Sumac tip – I was wondering about that myself. Cheers
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.
Jaimie R. says:
January 7th, 2013 at 7:35 pm
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.
January 8th, 2013 at 7:28 am
Seriously, Jaimie. I just made this again last night and it is just so good. Glad you made it!
January 23rd, 2013 at 5:04 pm
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!
January 24th, 2013 at 6:49 am
Peggy- Awesome! So glad it was a success.
February 4th, 2013 at 3:50 pm
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!
February 7th, 2013 at 3:52 pm
Made the salad – delicious! The spicy factor was unexpectedly different, really enjoyed it – will be making it again and again for sure.
February 8th, 2013 at 9:19 pm
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. :)
February 20th, 2013 at 9:06 am
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!!
February 20th, 2013 at 9:20 am
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.
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!
Dee Dee says:
February 24th, 2013 at 12:05 am
Fabulous! Making it for the second time this evening per our five year old’s request. Gotta get that cookbook.
March 5th, 2013 at 6:08 pm
made this 3 times in a week!
March 13th, 2013 at 1:08 pm
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!
April 9th, 2013 at 12:43 pm
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?
June 25th, 2013 at 9:56 am
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.
June 25th, 2013 at 10:26 am
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!
October 17th, 2013 at 12:49 pm
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.
November 8th, 2013 at 3:47 am
This is a fabulous salad. I only recently discovered medjool dates and am totally in love. Many thanks. It will be a regular.
March 1st, 2014 at 2:33 am
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!
March 21st, 2014 at 10:32 am
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.
May 13th, 2014 at 6:44 pm
How long before serving the salad can the separate components be made? (i.e. the onion + dates, and the pita bread + almonds)
May 13th, 2014 at 7:22 pm
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.
August 7th, 2014 at 2:39 am
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;)
July 12th, 2016 at 6:52 pm
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.