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Spinach Salad with Almonds & Dates
Now that I have reminded you about the perfect CLASSIC spinach salad (http://cookingwithlarue.blogspot.com/2015/06/spinach-salad-extraordinaire.html), it is time to do some variations. This is an Israeli interpretation with use of pita croutons, dates, almonds and sumac. I think you will find this a wonderful spinach salad variation. It is a balanced taste of crunch, sweet and tangy vinegar! Sumac is a widely used, essential spice in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking. The sumac bush, native to the Middle East, produces deep red berries, which are dried and ground into coarse powder. Ground sumac is a versatile spice with a tangy lemony flavor, although more balanced and less tart than lemon juice. It is great over vegetables, grilled lamb, chicken, fish and hummus. It’s used in everything from dry rubs, marinades and dressing. I love to sprinkle it over food just before serving. A small amount also adds a beautiful pop of color to any dish.
- 1 Tb white wine vinegar
- ½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 4 oz. pitted Medjool dates, quartered lengthwise
- 2 Tb unsalted butter
- 2 Tb olive oil (divided)
- 2 small pitas, (about 3 oz.), roughly torn into 1½” pieces
- 1/3 C whole unsalted almonds, coarsely chopped
- 2 tsp sumac
- ½ tsp chile flakes
- 5 oz. baby spinach leaves
- 2 Tb 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 20-30 minutes, then drain any residual vinegar and discard.
Meanwhile, heat the butter and 1 Tb olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add the torn pita and almonds and cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring all the time, until the pita is crunchy and golden brown. Remove from the heat and mix in the sumac, chile flakes and ½ tsp salt. Set aside to cool.
When you are ready to serve, toss the spinach leaves with the pita mix in a large serving bowl. Add the dates and red onion, 1 Tb olive oil, the lemon juice and another pinch of salt. Taste for seasoning and serve immediately.
Serve this salad as a starter; its sharp fresh tart and sweetness really whets the appetite.