With a flat-full of friends en-route for a Saturday night dinner recently, I hit up the cookbook collection on the hunt for some new recipes to test out. Ingredients that provided at least a whisper of nutrition were an integral requirement, considering the invariably large quantities of barbecued meat we were sure to consume throughout the course of the night, but hearty winter-based vegetable dishes didn’t seem right for the sunny and warm Spring-is-almost-here August day. After consulting several volumes in the old library, I settled on a couple of veggie dishes from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jeruselum, including this winning salad of toasted pita bread and almonds, lightly pickled dates and red onion, and fresh baby spinach, all flavoured with sumac and lemon juice. It paired perfectly the meat we feasted on that night, and would also be lovely served with falafel and tzaziki for a mid-week meatless dinner.
To make the salad, quarter 100g of Medjool dates and combine in a bowl with 1/2 a medium red onion and 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar and set aside to marinate. Heat some butter and olive oil in a pan, then add 100g of roughly torn pita bread and 75g of chopped unsalted almonds, and toss with a pair of tongs for about 5 minutes, or until the pita is crisp and the almonds are golden brown. Take off the heat and stir through 2 teaspoons of sumac and half a teaspoon of chilli flakes. Combine the pita mixture with 150g of baby spinach, and top with the date and onion mixture, discarding any excess vinegar. Toss everything together and season with salt and pepper, and finish off by squeezing over the juice from half a lemon.
Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jeruselum.