Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Jerusalem in Jerusalem: Baby Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds

Why yes, those are my skeleton hands.

And, why yes, this is a two-in-a-rower.

This week, my friends, this week has been a week. It was a week full of frustration and stress and annoyance and we went straight from freaky cold to oh my God, hot and dry and disgusting, and generally this week is not even worthy of discussion. Thank God for friends and wine and tv shows where impossibly beautiful people do impossible things and this salad- cause honestly, this salad was one of the bright spots in this otherwise shitty week.

This is another Ottolenghi masterpiece. He somehow has this way of taking elements that seem to go together, adding a seemingly disparate twist and making it all work. No, scratch that, he takes disparate elements adds them to something seemingly pedestrian makes the entire dish sing. In this case, it's the pitas. Spinach, dates and almonds, I get. But then there are pitas- fried and tossed with sumac and chili and you think, what? Really? And yet, once it gets all tossed together and plated and you take a bite, you think, yeah. Really.

Deep breath.

Baby Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds

From Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Sami Tamimi and  Yotam Ottolenghi

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
100 grams (3.5 oz) pitted dates, quartered
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pitas, torn into pieces
1/2 almonds, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons sumac
1/2 teaspoon chile flakes
150 grams (5 oz) baby spinach
2 tablespoons lemon juice

1.  In a small bowl, toss the onions and dates with the vinegar. Set aside and let marinate for 20 minutes.

2. In the meantime, heat the butter and half of the olive oil in a frying pan over moderate heat. Add the bread and the almonds and fry for around 6 minutes until the pita is crispy. Remove from heat and add the sumac, chile and a good pinch of salt. Let cool.

3. In a large salad bowl, toss the spinach with the pita. Strain the dates and onions and add them along with the remaining olive oil, lemon juice and salt to taste. Serve.

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