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January 2013 COTM: JERUSALEM -- Vegetables; Beans & Grains; Soups

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Vegetables 24 - 93
Beans & Grains 94 - 129
Soups 130 - 149

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  1. Conchiglie with yoghurt, peas & chilli pg 111 UK edition

    This was delicious. Tasty, filling and refreshing. It's a perfect summer weather pasta dish. This is definitely a keeper and the husband has request that I put it on 'the rotation'. It's a very quick to make so can easily be a weeknight meal.

    Yoghurt, peas, garlic and olive oil gets processed. Cooked pasta is added to this sauce, some more cooked peas, feta, basil, salt and white pepper are then added and gently tossed.
    Finally pine nuts and chilli are fried and poured on top (some wonderful sizzling here). I had my husband cooking the pine nuts as I was assembling and tossing the salad so when it got to our plates the yoghurt sauce was still warmish from the pasta.

    We did make a couple of alterations. We halved the amount of garlic as it's raw in the dish and we didn't want to be too pungent on a weekday. Secondly we doubled the amount of pine nuts and chilli (and a bit more oil for frying them) as they sounded so delicious we wanted extra on our plates.

     
    26 Replies
    1. re: Frizzle

      (Pasta rags) with Yoghurt, Peas & Chile, page 111, US edition.

      Last night Mr. NS grilled lamb chops that I had marinated in harissa and preserved lemon. Thanks to Frizzle's report, and beautiful photo, this dish sprung to mind as the perfect side. I had the usual ragamuffin pasta scraps leftover from cutting ravioli, so I used that in place of the conchiglie. I followed Frizzle's lead, and added extra pine nuts and chile (I used Urfa biber).

      This was delicious, and different. A perfect accompaniment to the spicy lamb. It could easily stand on its own for those of us who don't need meat with every meal.

       
       
      1. re: L.Nightshade

        I'm glad you like it. Your photo looks wonderful. We had this again last night, my husband is obsessed with it now I think. This time I used a low fat yoghurt in and attempt to be healthier and the sauce (unsurprisingly) was a lot more watery than with full fat Greek yoghurt.
        We can't get many different types of chili here in Australia due to strict bio-security rules. No aleppo even. So I use some very generic chili flakes with the addition of smoked paprika as suggested by the book.

        1. re: Frizzle

          I think the chile flakes with smoky paprika sounds like a great solution. Urfa biber is a bit smoky, and the smokiness really does add something to the dish.

          I didn't realize it was so hard for you to get the variety of chiles there! But I have an old friend who started a Mexican food and salsa company in Australia, and I do recall that she has to grow all her own chiles!

        2. re: L.Nightshade

          This is another dish I've had in Turkey a lot. It sounds wrong but is lovely.

          1. re: greedygirl

            My father used to attempt to replicate his Syrian mother's version of the pasta and yoghurt combo and still laments that he can't get it tasting quite right. He recalls eating it cold from the fridge on a hot day rather than having it warm like this recipe. I'm going to email him this version to try to see if we can't get him closer to the flavour of his mothers.

            1. re: Frizzle

              This recipe for pasta and yogurt with chiles and peas had piqued my interest particularly because I also love the macaroni bil laban that your father seems to crave.

              1. re: JungMann

                He used macaroni too - I wasn't sure if it was because that was the same pasta as what his mum used or if it was because there was limited choices of pasta styles in New Zealand in the 80s. I think he just mixed crushed garlic into the yoghurt with s&p. Maybe some olive oil. If you have a recipe that differs to this I would love to get it to pass on to him.

                1. re: Frizzle

                  Macaroni (with allowances for different pronunciations) is the generic Arabic word for pasta so both your father's elbows and my rotini can be called macaroni bil laban. The sauce for the dish consists of nothing more than full fat strained yogurt with garlic paste and salt. It is important to crush the garlic in a mortar or mash it with salt to get a smooth sauce. Toss your pasta with the garlic yogurt, drizzle with beurre noisette (not olive oil) and top with Aleppo pepper (or your closest approximation) and serve. If you want to gild the lily you can add dried mint, parsley and/or toasted pine nuts. If you chill the pasta overnight, the flavor of the raw garlic will mellow out so you may want to add another clove depending on your taste preference.

        3. re: Frizzle

          Fusilli with Yogurt, Peas and Chili

          Made this tonight and loved it. This is a fantastic weeknight meal for a few reasons. 1. It is super fast - everything comes together in the time it takes to boil water and cook pasta. 2. It is actually satisfying as a one-dish meal. You really don't need anything else with it except for maybe a simple salad, and even this would just be for the sake of textural variety in the meal. 3. With hothouse basil and frozen peas this dish can be made year round with great success. If you skip the basil it would still be good and is a total pantry meal.

          The tangy, garlicky yogurt and feta are so good in the pasta and the sweet peas and herbal basil offset it nicely. Crunchy pinenuts on top add good contrast. Yum.

          1. re: Frizzle

            Conchiglie (Macaroni) with yoghurt, chilli and peas, UK iBook edition

            This is a very easy but satisfying one dish meal. It's very toddler friendly too (if your little one only eats pasta, fritters and eggs). Because everything is mixed in at end, the toddler got a serving without chillied pinenuts. If yours younger, you can also the salt in the yoghurt sauce for the baby.

            I substitute the Turkish chilli flakes with Indian chilli flakes and a pinch of smoked paprika. I will also make more of the chilli pinenuts next time as they are really moreish. Also I wasn't organised enough to have defrosted frozen pea for the yoghurt sauce. So I cooked the entire amount of peas required in water and used cooked peas for the sauce.

            It is more suitable as a summer dish as the pasta is stirred into cold yoghurt and feta, but it's ok today as it isn't too cold.

            1. re: Frizzle

              Rotini with yogurt, chilli and peas

              As everyone else has stated, this is quite a satisfying, easy to assemble, one-pot meal. Yogurt and pasta is an Eastern Mediterranean favorite of mine, but several things set this recipe apart. Firstly though the recipe is simple, the interplay is really quite complex. There is sweetness from the peas contrasted against the heat of the chilli and pepper which is tamed by the cool flavor of the basil. The toasted nuts (I used almonds) add textural interest while the feta adds a briny element that keeps the dish from being too one note. I can imagine that made with fat summer peas, this will be a very popular supper to pull from the fridge on the weekdays.

              1. re: Frizzle

                My turn on the Conghili with yogurt, peas and chili. Big hit with all of us - so much better than it sounds. But I have to say - awfully rich. So rich that I doubt I'd make again. Still and all, delicious.

                1. re: LulusMom

                  Is it rich taste wise? Or do you mean it's very high in fat? Would it help if you switch to low fat or 0% fat greek yoghurt?

                  1. re: LulusMom

                    What could be so "rich" about this dish, LLM? Yogurt, peas, pinenuts, feta, chilies... I'm making this tonight. Yup, I am. Using left over macaroni too. JungMann used almonds instead of pinenuts and I like that idea. I'll let you know how it all turns out...

                    1. re: LulusMom

                      Yes, used full fat yogurt (someone upthread had mentioned that it wasn't as good with nonfat; should have gone half-fat). Then there is the feta, and the olive oil that the nuts are cooked in. Absolutely delicious, but I paid for it in the middle of the night.

                      1. re: LulusMom

                        Ah yes. Full fat yogurt. The second time Frizzzle cooked the the recipe she used nonfat yogurt, that's what I'm going to do but I'll drain it first to reduce the liquid. It's a shame you were distressed after the meal, LLM...

                        1. re: Gio

                          I learned my lesson on the full fat (hangs head in shame).

                          1. re: Gio

                            I think the full fat yogurt is what contributes to making this such a satisfying dish! I'd at least use 2% (the 2% greek yogurt is usually acceptable to my mind). I'd be worried about wateriness/sourness with nonfat yogurt.

                          2. re: LulusMom

                            I can't think of anything that's better with the low fat version. But sometimes we just have to!

                            1. re: lilham

                              Exactly - especially with so much of it (and the cheese, and the oil).

                            2. re: LulusMom

                              I forgot to post that I made this pasta dish as well. I used 0% fat greek yogurt from TJs and I thought it tasted delicious. I also added a head of kale in with the pasta cooking water so that probably cut down on the richness as well. We really enjoyed this, esp the pine nut/chile flake oil part. This would be a great dish in the summer when my basil is in full bloom.

                              The problem I have with dishes like this is that I need a more solid protein. I'm blanking on what I served this with though. Maybe a roasted chicken? No clue whatsoever.

                              1. re: beetlebug

                                0% fat Greek yogurt from TJ's... That's exactly what I have!! (I have a little every morning w a small drizzle of local honey.) perfect. Thanks for posting BB...

                          3. re: Frizzle

                            Conchiglie with Yogurt, Peas and Chile, Pg 111, US Edition

                            At long last. We made this recipe last night. I borrowed from each of the people who made it before me. Used Trader Joe's 0% fat Greek yogurt and Israeli feta, almonds, reduced the amount of oil. I'm probably forgetting other adaptations but those are incidental anyway, and nothing was substituted.

                            My husband is still raving about it. He Loved everything about the dish. I liked the combination of ingredients and didn't think it was too "rich". However, it didn't thrill me for some reason. Expectations are so high for these COTM recipes that when we finally get to taste the end product if there isn't instant wow-ness we - read I - feel let down somehow. Silly I know but there it is.

                            We were able to have a warm not cold dish so perhaps that took something away? There's some left in the fridge that I'll taste later today and see if I feel differently. The side dish was Gordon Hamersley's sweet and sour cabbage. The dishes didn't play off each other as I had wished but it was a solid satisfying meal.

                            1. re: Frizzle

                              I made this with fusilli - I also screwed up and blended all the peas into the yogurt, so the sauce was pretty soupy. Used Aleppo pepper so the spice was pretty mild. We enjoyed it - I'm not generally a big pasta fan but this was different enough that I'll make it again.

                              1. re: Frizzle

                                After months of ogling this recipe (and doubting it could taste as good as claimed) I finally made it for my meat loving family of teenage boys. And they liked it. And husband and I loved it! Used low fat 2% Greek Style yoghurt and loved the pale cool green of the pea yoghurt puree, the creamy crunchy spicy warm pine nuts, salty feta and fresh basil. It seems to me that like many Ottolenghi recipes it's best to include the ingredients as he specifies or the tastes might not come together as well as intended.

                              2. Fava Bean Kuku (half recipe) pg 39

                                Happy New Year, everyone!

                                I kicked off the NYE celebrations last night by delving deeply into Jerusalem's mezze-style dishes, and this lovely frittata/tortilla-like dish was the first to catch my eye.

                                To start, barberries are briefly soaked in a simple syrup. I haven't yet gotten to the Persian market, so used the suggested chopped dried sour cherries, soaking those as well, tho perhaps I shouldn't have as they were sweet-ish already and I've heard that the barberries are quite tart and perhaps need that treatment more than the cherries.

                                A cream/water mixture is heated with saffron and left to infuse with flavour for 30 mins. Meanwhile, onions and then garlic are cooked and then blanched fava beans get tossed in to the blend. I could have sworn that there was a bag of fava beans in my freezer, however I was only able to locate edamame--same coloured bag. Oops. Edamame kuku it was.

                                Eggs are beaten with flour, baking powder, mint, a good-sized handful of dill, s&p and the saffron cream, the barberries and then the cooled onion/fava mix. All this gets poured into a pre-heated oven-proof nonstick pan and cooked until eggs are just set.

                                Since this was a half recipe, I didn't have the right sized non-stick pan, so I wet and crumpled up some parchment to fit my (8 inch) hot pan and poured the egg mix over it. This seemed to work quite well and prevented that browned bottom that I so dislike with egg. Reduced the cooking time accordingly.

                                I really enjoyed this dish. I was concerned that the dill would overwhelm the other flavours but it really mellowed out, mingling with the mint and letting the other components sing. There was a surpising sweetness to the kuku, from the cherries no doubt, perhaps not so much with the original ingredient, but I liked it just the same. Served this at room temperature cut into wedges. Well recieved by all. A great introduction to this book!

                                 
                                6 Replies
                                1. re: Allegra_K

                                  Broad Bean Kuku (aka Fava Bean Kuku) - p 39 (UK ed)

                                  It's back-to-school day here, and I wanted to give the geeklings something healthy and substantial for lunch to help encourage their brains to get back into learning mode. This dish fit the bill.

                                  Please refer to Allegra_K's summary above on how to make this dish.

                                  In spite of soaking the barberries in a sugar/water syrup as instructed, they were still extremely tart and really dominated the flavours in the kuku. I should maybe have done a better job ensuring they were evenly distributed in the pan, but because you pre-heat the pan in the oven that means when you pour in the mixture it immediately starts cooking, and I didn't want to mess with it too much. This resulted in some sections of the kuku with lots of barberries, so they were quite sour. A big dollop of greek yogurt helped to tame the sourness (not to mention the extremely potent garlic flavour -- I only used 3 cloves, but this was still REALLY garlicky! Not a problem for us but I feel badly for Mr Geek when he comes home from work, haha.)

                                  Also, for the broad beans, I used frozen beans in the pods. The recipe doesn't specify whether you should pop them out of their skins after you blanch them. I decided to go ahead and do this. They really lost a lot of their texture by the time they made it onto the plate - to be honest, they were kind of mushy - and I would like to try this again with fresh beans to see if they might be a little more toothsome.

                                  On the whole this was an interesting dish and made a lovely hot lunch but I would definitely make some changes next time to create a more balanced flavour profile.

                                   
                                   
                                  1. re: Allegra_K

                                    Fava Bean Kuku Pg. 39 (UK ed)

                                    I seem to be playing catch up with some of my reviews these days. I made this recipe a few days ago and I am just getting around to posting about it now.

                                    Overall it was pretty good, but I have to say I was a little underwhelmed. It may simply be the result of user error on my end, and I am glad to see that both Allegra and Geekmom enjoyed the dish, but for us it was a little ho hum. There is quite a bit of onion, garlic, and dill, plus you have the barberries to punch up the tang, but for some reason when you put it all together it seemed like there were far too many fava beans, so much so that it was almost a fava cake lightly bound with egg. While I like fava beans, I found they dominated the recipe, and not in a good way.

                                    My other quibble with the recipe is the saffron infused cream, which again due to the amount of fava beans you really can't detect. Saffron is a lovely, and very pricey ingredient, when I use it I expect it to contribute at least some colour if not some flavour to the the dish, but in this case the dominant colour was the pale green of the favas with flecks of crimson from the barberries, and again the flavour of the saffron was lost.

                                    It is entirely possible that the lack lustre results were my fault. While I did try my best to execute the recipe correctly by weighing the ingredients and following the directions closely, we all know user error could also be the issue.

                                     
                                    1. re: delys77

                                      I agree about the saffron flavour, actually, and forgot to mention that yesterday. In our case it was the very potent garlic flavour that was the dominant taste so I couldn't really taste either the beans or the saffron. I really have a hard time judging how much garlic to use because the Red Russian garlic that I get from the farmer's market is so damn potent.

                                      Did you leave your broad beans in their pods?

                                      1. re: geekmom

                                        Yes I did leave them in their pods as he didn't instruct to do otherwise. In the Meatball with Fava and Lemon recipe he did provide instructions to do so, therefore I assumed that since he hadn't specified in the Kuku recipe that it wasn't necessary.

                                        I suspect that it might help as the it would cut the volume of the beans in the recipe quite a bit.

                                        Garlic wise I used the standard hard neck garlic and it wasn't overpowering, but I do recall getting Red Russian Garlic from the Okanagan last year, and it was quite potent indeed.

                                      2. re: delys77

                                        Now I wonder if I would have liked it as well as I did if I didn't use substitutions. It looks wonderful, though!

                                        1. re: Allegra_K

                                          Thanks, it did come out nicely! I definitely think Ottolenghi and Tamimi do a good job of creating recipes withe excellent visual appeal.

                                    2. Pureed Beets with Yogurt and Za'atar p.53

                                      Never having had the yogurt-beet combination before, my taste buds were in for a pleasant surprise! This shockingly hued dish certainly added some vibrant colour to the mezze spread with a taste to match.

                                      Roasted beets get processed to a smooth paste with garlic, chile, and greek yogurt, and then mixed with olive oil, salt, date syrup, and za'atar. Garnish with green onions, chopped hazlenuts and crumbled goat cheese (which I omitted).

                                      This comes together very quickly, especially if one roasts the beets the day before as I did. I love the way this is served: smeared out on a plate and sprinkled with various colourful toppings, then drizzled with additional olive oil. It looked absolutely beautiful. Tasted great, too! It was sweet with just a hint of heat in the background, slightly tangy from the yogurt and musty from the za'atar. I served this with plenty of flatbread for hearty dunking. My spouse really loved this dish and declared it the winner of the evening.

                                       
                                      23 Replies
                                      1. re: Allegra_K

                                        How do you think this would be without the date syrup? I wouldn't mind this less sweet, I think...

                                        1. re: roxlet

                                          I made this beet dish too and liked it. I did not use date syrup because I did not have it then but now that I do have and love it, I think date syrup will add another amazing layerof flavour. The dish was great without it but next time date syrup is going in for sure!

                                          1. re: roxlet

                                            I found that maple syrup is a good substitute for date syrup.

                                          2. re: Allegra_K

                                            Pureed Beets with Yogurt and Za'atar p.53

                                            This dish was ok. It was very pretty but it didn't do much for me and I'm a beet lover. My version was more watery so it didn't seem like a dip. I'm not sure why that happened but I may have over processed the dip in the food processor. My beets were cooked but maybe should have cooked longer since the dip wasn't smooth. I could see bits of it everywhere.

                                            I'll likely revisit this dish because I do love beets and yogurt. I make the one from Wolfert's Arabesque in the summer and it's refreshing.

                                            1. re: Allegra_K

                                              I made a salad version of this recipe, basically chopped the beets and used the other ingredients for the dressing. Didn't use goat cheese. Used maple instead of date syrup. Fantastic, though if I make it as a salad again I will reduce the amount of yogurt a bit.

                                              1. re: bunnylicious

                                                What a great idea! I think beet salad would go down better than beet purée. In making the dressing, did you follow the proportions as given by YO?

                                                1. re: Westminstress

                                                  I followed the recipe as written minus the goat cheese. Combined everything as a salad dressing for the beets. Worked out great but I would reduce the amount of yogurt.

                                                2. re: bunnylicious

                                                  I just boiled beets today for dinner tomorrow night. I'm definitely going to make the salad version of this.

                                                  1. re: cheesecake17

                                                    Update... We loved it! No cheese, since I also made a mushroom and cheese tart. The dressing was delicious. Definitely will be repeated

                                                      1. re: bunnylicious

                                                        I've been eating it for a week now! I actually prefer the dressing with Pom molasses, the sweet tart flavor is delicious

                                                  2. re: bunnylicious

                                                    Just checking in to say that I finally got around to the salad version of this dish tonight. We LOVED it! I could not get over this fantastic combination of favors - wow! One of my favorites from the book. I followed the recipe as written except I cut the beets into small cubes. Also I skipped the garnishes. I didn't have hazelnuts or goat cheese, and I skipped the scallions bc my garlic was pretty potent. Oh and for the chili I used my chopped salted chilies (love those!)

                                                  3. re: Allegra_K

                                                    Pureed Beet with Yogurt and Za'atar p. 53

                                                    PSA: Do not try to make this dish in a Vitamix.

                                                    This was one of those times when I thought I was being clever, but really just prove that I'm a blockhead.

                                                    I had made hummus in my (brand new) Vitamix for a casual dinner party with friends. Frustrated with not being able to get the last couple tablespoons of hummus out of the Vitamix, I was thinking about if I could make another spread type thing that wouldn't mind a little hummus mixed in. Remembered the beet spread from Jerusalem and figured a little chickpea and tahini would go unnoticed in the final product. Luckily, I had some cooked beets in the fridge as well as all the other ingredients on hand. Threw it all into the Vitamix and let 'er rip. Of course, in no time flat, it completely liquified into beet soup. No way you could spread it on a plate. It also turned a very mauve color, not the vibrant red of the book.

                                                    I decided to serve it anyway though, without the cheese and hazelnuts as they would have just sunk to the bottom. It tasted pretty good, although it was in no way a "hit." Live and learn.

                                                    1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                      You have no idea how many COTM blockhead moments I've had, GENH, so thanks for this warning.

                                                      1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                        Very definitely NOT a blockhead. (Or at least, if you are, so am I.) I've had my Vita-Mix for more than a year now and I'm still underestimating how powerful it can be. A couple of weeks ago I was making the Thai Vinaigrette to accompany the Quick-Sauteed Squid and Bacon Salad in "Smoke & Pickles" and without thinking, followed his instructions to "blend on high until well combined." It was "well combined" all right. It was Thai mayonnaise. Live and learn indeed.

                                                        1. re: JoanN

                                                          Yes, the VitaMix is a bit of a different animal than a run of the mill blender, huh? Thanks for the fair warning about the "Thai mayonnaise." Love that :)

                                                        2. re: greeneggsnham

                                                          I'm glad it tasted good genh...as you say, live and learn. Better it happen when it's a casual dinner party rather than a high stakes event.

                                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                            Yes, I was certainly glad it was a casual affair. And it turned out our guests were Vitamix owners as well, so we got to share our Vitamix hits and misses.

                                                            1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                              I did scape pesto in Vitamix recently and though not a disaster it certainly tastes better when made in FP. Basil pesto turned out nice though.

                                                              1. re: herby

                                                                Why do you think the scape pesto was suboptimal in the Vitamix, but the basil pesto wasn't? I am still trying to figure out what to put in there...

                                                                I was thinking about doing an arugula/chive pesto for dinner tonight. I was going to try it in the VM, any advice?

                                                                1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                                  Sorry, Green, have not stopped by the thread earlier. I think some "pestos" are better as a condiment than a paste and this is the case with scape pesto for me. My daughter who loves it on anything did not like it as much either. When done in FP, a certain amount of texture remains and the mouthfeel is more pleasant. That could be also because this is how I've always done it in the past :) Somehow basil pesto is just fine as a paste. I would do arugula/chives in the FP again because of the texture. VM for me is great when I want to liquefy everything: tomato soup, fresh tomato pure for freezing, kale smoothie, etc. There is a booklet, almost a book that come with it - many good ideas there that I have not explored. Wonder if there is a thread on VM somewhere - would it be useful?
                                                                  Let us know how your pesto turns out!

                                                                  1. re: herby

                                                                    Thanks, herby. I ended up doing my pesto in the vitamix (I have the vitamix fever in a bad way). It was very smooth and paste like, almost creamy mouthfeel. I used hazelnuts (allergy to other options) as well as 2/3 arugula and 1/3 chives and we really enjoyed it. My husband loves arugula and the peppery bite really came through. I used it to dress pasta and the texture was great we thought in that application.

                                                                    Will continue the experimentation and seach for a vitamix thread to stop high jacking this one!

                                                                2. re: herby

                                                                  I have found that the basil pesto that is made in the VitaMix tends to brown more easily than that made in the FP. I think that there might be some heat that's generated in the VM.

                                                        3. Spiced Chickpeas & Fresh Vegetable Salad p.56

                                                          Haphazardly threw this salad together after realizing that it would go perfectly with the falafels and pita on the new year's eve mezze table, and that nearly everything else was heavy and fried. I am so glad I tried this one, as it was a welcoming and refreshing addition to the party.

                                                          This is a gloriously crunchy fresh salad consisting of chopped tomatoes, radishes, cucumbers, red pepper, and red onion topped with a generous amound of cilantro and parsley. A tangy dressing is made up of olive oil, lemon zest and juice, sherry vinegar, garlic, and sugar, and tossed with the veg.

                                                          Cooked chickpeas (I had some pre-cooked ones sitting in the freezer) get tossed with a heady mixture of warming spices -cardamom, allspice, and cumin- and fried lightly with olive oil for a few minutes. The chickpeas get served alongside the vegetables, with the option of spooning some greek yogurt over the top.

                                                          Even though this was so simple, it was one of my favourites of the evening, and made me long for summer and all of its wonderful produce. This would be even better with sun-warmed, perfectly ripe vegetables. The chickpeas were nice as well. I did enjoy the spices mixed with them, but in the future it will be the salad I crave and not the legumes.

                                                          Despite the fact that I made a half recipe and we (a family of four) picked at this one all night, I have a pile of leftovers, so keep that in mind.

                                                           
                                                          5 Replies
                                                          1. re: Allegra_K

                                                            Just a quick addition here to say that the salad holds up surprisingly well the next day. There is a bit more liquid on the bottom, as would be expected, but all the veggies retained their addictive crunch and it was still very good.

                                                            1. re: Allegra_K

                                                              I made this tonite to go with grouper with veracruz salsa-
                                                              a cross cultural dinner

                                                              1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                I made the Fresh Vegetable Salad portion of this recipe and really enjoyed it. The radishes were a surprise delight in this salad for me. I am not terribly fond of radishes in general, and usually omit them. But I decided to pick some up ( trusting the source) and I was happy I added them. The salad really benefited from their slightly water crunch.

                                                                All in all a winner and I suspect I will make this again, maybe even with the chickpeas.

                                                                1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                  [Spiced Chickpeas and] Fresh Vegetable Salad, Pg. 56, US Edition

                                                                  The vegetable salad without the spiced chickpeas is the suggested side dish for the Kofta B'siniyah on page 195 which was our main dish. It consists of chopped tomatoes, radishes (I used a daikon), cucumbers, red pepper, and red onion. I had to omit the cilantro but did include parsley and substituted apple cider vinegar instead of sherry vinegar in the dressing. We thought the variety of vegetables combined with the mildly sweet yet tangy dressing was a perfect foil for the very well seasoned koftas as each taste sensation enhanced the other.

                                                                  1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                    I made this today for lunch and everyone thought it was wonderful. I loved the combination of the warm chickpeas and the cool salad. The vinaigrette was really nice and well balanced.

                                                                    This salad is a nice change of pace from our usual Arab salad that doesn't have chickpeas but includes chopped lettuce ( Claudia Roden's New Book of Middle Eastern Food). I really wanted to add fresh mint, since that is usual for me, but I stuck with the recipe since it was the first time making it.

                                                                    As a chickpea fanatic I see myself adding the spiced chickpeas to other salads I make.

                                                                    I made the whole recipe and there was maybe one serving left after the three of us gobbled it down lol.

                                                                  2. Baby Spinach Salad with Dates & Almonds (page 30, US edition)

                                                                    This wonderful salad has already been reviewed a number of times in both the original “Jerusalem” thread and on the main thread, so I’ll just report my experience with it.

                                                                    Other than halve the recipe (which is very easy to do and served one for dinner) and use a whole wheat pita, I made this as directed. Unlike some others, I had no problems with the thin pieces of pita becoming soggy; they remained crisp until the salad was finished. Nor did I think the vinegar marinade at all too strong. The quartered dates were too much sweetness in a single bite for me so next time I make this I’ll either slice the dates more thinly or perhaps even chop them so they are more evenly divided throughout the salad. Also, when the recipe called for “chile flakes,” I automatically reached for my regular medium hot crushed red pepper. I don’t know whether I didn’t stir it into the pita/nut mixture well enough or whether I thought it just too powerful, but I’m making a note to go with crushed Aleppo chile next time. This is a great salad, one I’m sure will be in regular rotation for many of us for years to come.

                                                                     
                                                                    24 Replies
                                                                    1. re: JoanN

                                                                      Agreed! This salad presents the perfect contrasts of sweet, tart, crunchy and soft. Loved it.

                                                                      1. re: JoanN

                                                                        Baby Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds, Pg. 30, US Edition

                                                                        Stunningly delicious, this salad. Like JoanN I halved the recipe, used whole wheat pita which did not get soggy, and used the white wine vinegar which we didn't think was too strong. Unlike Joan I used my "regular crushed red pepper flakes" but didn't think they were too hot.

                                                                        I served the Shakshuka on page 66 along side. These two dishes convinced me that Mr. Ottolenghi is a genius when it comes to combining flavors.

                                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                                          Baby Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds Pg. 30

                                                                          This salad was so interesting, and so flavourful. I have to say it is likely one of the best salads I have had in a long while.

                                                                          There are some very strong flavours in the dish with the sumac seasoned nuts/pita that have been toasted in oil and butter (I let my butter go a bit so that the pita/nuts would have a slight brown butter taste), and the pungent pickled onion offset by the sweet dates, all coming together with the tender greens. Great balance, great flavour, interesting texture, a winner all around.

                                                                          The picture below is of the salad and the turkey burgers which I served alongside.

                                                                           
                                                                        2. re: JoanN

                                                                          Baby Spinach Salad with Dates & Almonds - page 30.

                                                                          I made all components of the salad to serve for dinner tonight with regular spinach since my produce storedidn't have baby spinach. I am making the whole recipe and strted my marinating slivered dates and sliced red onion in vinegar but there 1t specified wasn't enough to even moisten date/onion mixture. I added another T and there was nothing to pour off after 20 min.

                                                                          My next issue is with frying pita pieces and almonds together. Almonds were done but pita (I used fat white pita) was nowhere crisp and golden-brown. So I had to fish the almonds out (not an easy task!) and continue with pita.

                                                                          All looks and smells delicious and I can't wait to taste it. Did anyone had similar issues?

                                                                          1. re: herby

                                                                            I've been making this salad a lot lately. I don't bother marinating the dates (didn't see that this step added anything), but I do chop them up. I also fry the almonds and pita separately.

                                                                            1. re: pikawicca

                                                                              The salad was incredible - everyone loved it! I'll put a bit less pita next time - I didn't weigh pita and sure that I used more that the recipe calls for. My almonds were slivered and I cut dates into a similar shape. Marinating added a lot to change taste of both, dates and onion, in a good way. Vinegar mellowed onions taking the raw edge off and dates became almost savoury - worth while doing, IMHO.

                                                                              1. re: herby

                                                                                The salad was truly incredible. I used kale instead of spinach, and it was as delicious (and not soggy) on day two.

                                                                          2. re: JoanN

                                                                            Made this for a Jerusalem dinner party last night and we all absolutely loved it. An incredibly good salad.

                                                                            1. re: JoanN

                                                                              Baby spinach salad with dates & almonds, p. 30 (US ed.)

                                                                              Not much to add to the previous raves for this salad. I loved it, and I am not the biggest fan of dates. It's so well balanced. I chopped the dates up to roughly the size of the almonds. I didn't use the pita because I didn't have it or an equivalent, and so I cooked the almonds, sumac, and (Aleppo) pepper flakes in 1 T butter only, and used 1 T olive oil when I mixed up the salad.

                                                                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                This is good news! I have all the ingredients for this salad except the stale pita and I've been holding off on making it for that reason. I'm sure I'd love the pita but good to know the salad works without it -- I'm going to go ahead and make it without.

                                                                              2. re: JoanN

                                                                                So glad I'm finally getting around to this book (and here it is the last week of the month). I made this salad last night to go with the turkey and zucchini burgers and loved it. Thanks to JoanN's discussion about the dates I cut mine up very small (like Caitlin, probably about the size of the almond slivers) and probably didn't use the whole amount. None of us are big on fruit in our savory. But I thought the date parts worked really well (cut up - I wouldn't have wanted them any bigger), and we absolutely *loved* the pita croutons. I used Aleppo pepper. Not much to add - just another "wow, this is a great salad."

                                                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                                                  Baby Spinach Salad with Dates and Almond, page 30.

                                                                                  This may be my new favorite salad! We loved it. I had no trouble cooking the almonds and pita together; they both came out toasty brown at the same time. I was surprised at how the hot pan sizzled and smoked a bit when I tossed in the sumac. The flavors in this salad are so nicely balanced and complementary.

                                                                                  I served the salad with the turkey burgers, as others have done. It's a perfect paring.

                                                                                   
                                                                                   
                                                                                    1. re: delys77

                                                                                      Why, thank you delys! Those rectangular plates make it easy.

                                                                                    2. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                      I normally really dislike the mouth feel of raw spinach (kind of squeaky), but this salad has made me a believer. I loved it. Glad it was a hit for you too.

                                                                                    3. re: JoanN

                                                                                      Baby spinach salad with dates & almonds p.30

                                                                                      This was a great salad as everyone before me has proclaimed. An inspired combination of tender greens, crispy pita, crunchy nuts. spice elements from sumac & chile flakes, sour notes from lemon juice and sweetness from dates (which I slivered smaller as was suggested). I will definitely make this again. I served it with Roasted butternut squash & red onion with tahini & za'atar on p.36.

                                                                                      1. re: JoanN

                                                                                        I finally made this salad tonight and we loved it. I'll be making this again and again.

                                                                                        1. re: JoanN

                                                                                          Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds

                                                                                          Finally got around to this salad tonight, and it was just as wonderful as everyone promised. I left out the pita (and cut back a bit on the butter and oil) and it was fine. Heeding advice here, I chopped the dates so they were similar in size to the almonds. Delicious. I haven't used this book much since January, it was fun to be reminded how truly wonderful it is, and I have a few more recipes I want to try in the coming weeks.

                                                                                          1. re: JoanN

                                                                                            This past weekend, I made a big bowl of the spinach salad to serve a dozen or so people, and it was a huge, huge hit. While all the dishes at this dinner were appreciated, this salad, with its unexpected and fabulous combination of ingredients, was the thing nobody could stop talking about.

                                                                                            Because I needed to prep all the components much earlier in the day, I ended up using only olive oil to fry the almonds (I didn't use pita), because I was afraid the butter would congeal as the mixture sat. Otherwise, made as written save for chopping the dates smaller.

                                                                                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                              Baby Spinach Salad with Dates & Almonds (page 30, US edition)

                                                                                              Agree. This salad is a total winner. I made this for a casual dinner party with friends and it was the stand out of the night as well.

                                                                                              This one has definitely earned a place in the permanent repertoire.

                                                                                              1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                                                                Every time this thread pops up I am reminded about this salad and it makes me want to make it again. So thanks to everyone who tries it and puts it back into my mind. Really great salad.

                                                                                                1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                                                                  Wow, there are so many fantastic reviews from this recipe I can't believe I still haven't tried it yet. Thanks for putting it back at the top of my list!

                                                                                              2. re: JoanN

                                                                                                I liked this, but next time I'd cut down the onions and/or pickle them longer. (I've had a raw onion aversion since my last pregnancy). I loved the "pickling" of the dates and will remember that as a technique for other salads.