Today, for the first time this ‘summer’ (it’s not actually summer yet), the mercury topped 40°C. Tomorrow’s 35 seems almost chilly by comparison (cough, splutter).
So it would seem that salad season is well and truly upon us.
I would love to pretend that we routinely eat interesting salads but … woooah, that is so not true. We throw some lettuce, tomato and cucumber on a plate. Maybe there’s also avocado or spring onions. And if I’ve thought ahead and been able to track down both Australian feta and olives then they’ll be on the plate too. I don’t like dressing, so that doesn’t even get a look in.
And you know what? I actually LIKE salad.
Anyway, my slender repertoire now has an extension.
A friend organised a ‘cookbook club afternoon’ (for want of a more pithy term). A book was chosen (Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem) and we were all to select different recipes and then come together and share our creations.
Circumstances meant I knew I was going to pushed for time so I picked a salad (it turned out that this was horrendously lazy when compared with other efforts …). In haste I chose the baby spinach and date salad. It ticked all my boxes – easy to shop for, quick to make. Job done.
Come Sunday morning I was able to throw this together, keeping aside the dressing to stir through at the last minute. While I was concerned about the sweetness of the dates, they worked really well and the vinegar and onion helped offset the sweetness. The almonds, of course, added crunch.
You can easily make this in advance – not too much because the pita won’t retain its crispness – but it’s definitely a ‘prep first thing in the morning’ kind of dish. And it tastes really good too!
- ½ red onion, very finely sliced
- 100g pitted dates, quartered lengthwise
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 30g unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 100g pita bread, torn into generous bite sized pieces
- 75g almonds, roughly chopped
- 2 tsp sumac
- ½ tsp chilli flakes (or to taste, but don't go crazy)
- 150g baby spinach leaves
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- Place the sliced onion, dates and vinegar in a small bowl and leave for about 15-20 minutes.
- Heat the butter and 1tbsp oil in a pan and add the pita bread and nuts. Toast until the almonds take on colour and the pita gets all lovely and crispy. Remove from the heat and stir through the sumac and chilli.
- Drain any remaining vinegar from the onion and dates (in my case, there was pretty much none).
- Toss the spinach with the dates and onion and pita and almond mix.
- When ready to serve, pour over the remaining 1tbsp of oil and lemon juice (I actually shook them together) and season to taste.
- Serve immediately.