Dec 9, 2013

Baby Spinach Quinoa Salad with Dates & Sumac

I have yet to come across a recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi that is not deliciously dreamy- the guy hits my tastebuds each and every time! The other day I was looking through one of his fabulous cookbooks, Jerusalem, hunting down the vegan friendly recipes... when one in particular caught my attention. It's Ottolenghi's Baby Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds. What intrigued me was the trio he used of dates, red onions and sumac with all the leafy green goodness. It just resonated so strongly with me, surely because of these Middle Eastern/Mediterranean ingredients that I grew up on- I just never had dates, onions and sumac all together at once. I was inspired by what seemed to be a killer ingredient combination but improvised the rest, with quite a few tweaks.

Olive oil, red onions, dates and sumac... all get seared- but still keep their crunch
To then add some red quinoa (cooked separately). I've never been crazy about quinoa, but in this recipe it picks up a lot of great flavour.
Mix everything in a bowl, with the baby spinach leaves. You want something of a warm salad...
To enjoy it just like this... With pomegranates in season right now I usually have some lying around- sprinkle a few for a decorative, colourful touch.

Recipe for Baby Spinach Quinoa Salad with Dates & Sumac

5-6oz (140-150gr) Baby Spinach leaves
1-2 cups cooked quinoa*
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
Dates, pitted and cut lengthwise*
1-2 teaspoons Sumac
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly squeezed lemon

In a large pan, heat olive oil. Toss in the chopped onion, dates, sumac. Stir for a few minutes until slightly softened, but you don't want to completely lose the onion's crunch. 
Then add the quinoa, season with salt, mix everything together for a few minutes. 
In a seperate large bowl, place the baby spinach and add the quinoa mixture. Add a little extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice, enjoy warm!

Adjust the quinoa/spinach proportions as you please for a final result that is vegetable or grain rich. 
Adjust the quantity of dates to the amount of "sweetness" you prefer

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