I’m not usually one of those people who are onto things early. I didn’t read the books for Game of Thrones years before the TV series came out and I’m often one of the last to discover a band everyone has been listening to all year. But I was lucky enough to live around the corner from Ottlenghi’s original store in London seven years ago so for once I can say I was an “early adopter”. Ottolenghi has now gone from a tiny shopfront, with the window piled high with delicious salads and desserts, to a worldwide phenomenon with cookbooks and TV shows.
Of the three Ottolenghi cook books, the book which really propelled Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi to worldwide fame is Jerusalem, which is where this recipe for a simple spinach salad with dates and almonds comes from. The flavours instantly evoke the Middle East and the use of stale, old pita bread to add crunch is a brilliant way of using up leftovers. I’ve made it a couple of times now and it has fast become a favourite.
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 100 gms dates, preferably Medjool, pitted and quartered lengthwise
- 30 gms butter
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 small pitas, roughly torn
- 75g whole unsalted almonds, roughly chopped
- 2 tsps sumac
- 1/2 tsp chili flakes
- 150 gms baby spinach leaves
- 2 tbsps freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1. Put 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 any residual vinegar and discard.
- 2. Meanwhile, heat butter and 1 tbsp olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add pita and cook for 4 to 6 minutes, stirring all the time, until pita is golden. Add almonds and continue cooking until pita is crunchy and browned and almonds are toasted and fragrant, about 2 minutes more.
- 3. Remove from heat and mix in sumac, chili flakes and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside to cool.
- 4. When ready to serve, toss spinach leaves with pita mix in a large mixing bowl. Add dates and red onion, the remaining olive oil, the lemon juice and another pinch of salt. Taste for seasoning and serve immediately.