Thursday, April 25, 2013

Baby Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds

As much as I love eating healthy, I have some big downfalls… one is the Munchie’s Snack Mix (Cheetos, Doritos, Rold Gold Pretzels, and Sun Chips). I have never bought a bag of it in my life, but every time I spot one at a party, I can’t get enough of it. After a long day at work, changing my name at the DOL office, and watching the manhunt for the Tsarnaev brothers on the news, DFJ and I went to a party at my coworker’s house last Friday. There I devoured three full plates of the said snack mix and downed it with some beer. It was so awesome and gross at the same time.

So, on Saturday, I vowed to treat myself better… and made a salad. There is not a more befitting word to describe this salad, but spectacular. Spectacular! That may sound like an exaggeration, but it’s not. The latest cookbook in my ever-growing collection is a treasure: Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. This salad should be reason enough to buy the book.

The salad starts off with some red onions and dates marinated in white wine vinegar. These flavors magically come together in 20 minutes… pickled crisp onions and sweet chewy dates are pretty fabulous together!

Everything becomes even better when we fry some pita pieces and chopped almonds in olive oil and butter then flavor it with sumac, chili flakes, and salt. Buttery, smoky, spicy, and salty crunches… who needs bacon? Not me!

We will need some baby spinach, lots of it! Toss everything together, add a good douse of olive oil, lemon juice, and a pinch or two of salt, and voila, the most amazing salad ever!

Baby Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds (Serves 4 as a starter; Serves 2 as a full meal)
Slightly Adapted from Ottolenghi and Tamimi’s recipe in Jerusalem

1/2 of a small red onion, thinly sliced
pitted dates 50 g, quartered lengthwise
1/2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 pinch of kosher salt

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
80 g raw almonds, coarsely chopped
1 whole wheat pita bread, torn into 1 inch pieces
1 teaspoon sumac
1/2 teaspoon chile flakes
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

90 grams organic baby spinach
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
kosher salt

Put the sliced onion and dates in a small, nonreactive bowl. Pour in the vinegar and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Using your hands, mix everything well together, and gently separate the onion slices. Allow to marinate for at least 20 minutes.

While the onion slices and dates are marinating, prepare the rest of the ingredients. Heat the butter and olive oil in a medium size nonstick pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, toss in the almonds and pita bread pieces. Cook for about 6 minutes, stirring often, until the almonds are fragrant and the pita pieces turn a nice and crispy, golden brown. Turn off the heat and move the pan away from the stove. Season with sumac, chile flakes, and salt. Stir well to evenly spread the seasonings. Move the almond and pita bread mix to a large, serving bowl and let cool for 4-6 minutes. This will prevent the spinach leaves from wilting upon contact.

Prepare the fresh lemon juice while the almonds and pita pieces are cooling down. When everything is ready and you are ready to serve, gently toss the spinach leaves and almond-pita mix together using your clean hands. Add the red onion slices, dates, olive oil, lemon juice, and a pinch or two of salt. Give everything another gentle but thorough toss.  

Serve as an impressive starter or as a superbly delicious and healthy, full meal.    


  1. Thanks for posting this.This is awesome!!

  2. This is an amazing salad! I posted about it too. Did you get my e-mail?

  3. Hahaa, that snack mix gets me every time too! Once, me and my friend single handedly ate the whole bag. Then we went out for pizza. That was what I would call a fat night...
    Now this looks like a perfect way to get healthy after that EVIL snack mix.

  4. This is a delicious salad Margarita! Definitely up my alley!


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