How special it is to have the softest ever dates available from our local Afghan shop. I must admit that they are often consumed on their own, or on a plate with slices of pear, orange, and apple, and cubes of the creamiest feta. We can sometimes add slices of radish and fennel, and a few garden greens. It is perfect for snacking at afternoon tea time, or just before dinner. Dates are healthy, keep you regular and are delicious!
Orange salads are very common in the Middle East and places like Morocco, and suit our Winter very well. This is a different take on them – usually Orange Salads are savoury, but this one is sweet with a little sugar, cinnamon and dates. Delicious! Serve at the end of a meal for a beautiful and healthy final course, or serve in the afternoon with a strong cuppa tea. We also find it a great dish to put on a breakfast table.
What defines a salad? There are salads of raw ingredients and salads of cooked ingredients, cold salads and warm salads, salads of vegetables and salads with fruit, and salads with dried fruits. There are salads without fruit and without vegetables. There are dressings with oil and vinegar, or miso, pomegranate molasses or tahini. There are salads without dressings. Salads can be tossed, mixed, layered and composed. How to define a salad!
The word salad comes from the French salade of the same meaning, from the Latin salata (salty), from sal (salt). In English, the word first appears as salad or sallet in the 14th century. Salt is associated with salad because vegetables were seasoned with brine or salty oil-and-vinegar dressings during Roman times.
But as soon as we try to create some rules that categorically define a salad, we find exceptions. Despite the confusion, we can all recognise a salad when we see one. There is no confusing it with soup, or pudding, or a pasta dish.
Salads are also evident in most cuisines, even India has quite a few salads even though they are not well represented in restaurants or cookbooks. Today we travel to Israel via Ottolenghi’s book Jerusalem. The salad is composed of marinated dates, crispy flatbread, toasted nuts, and baby spinach. It does sour via lemon juice, vinegar and sumac, hot with chilli, pungent with onion and sweet with the dates.
Sumac, a tart, deep-red spice, is a key ingredient for this recipe – buy yours from a Middle Eastern shop, it is quite different to brands available via the local supermarket. The pita and almonds in the recipe are cooked for a few minutes on the stove to crisp up, but that is the only heat required. The rest is easy.
It is Ottolenghi Cook the Books day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish all the latest posts of recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by. Currently we are cooking mainly from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.
Browse all of our Spinach Salads and all of our Israeli dishes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Jerusalem are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through his book Plenty More. Or explore our Late Autumn recipes.
This is a delightful Moroccan Salad, simple to make and delicious to eat. Oranges and dates are both special in Morocco, and this brings them together in a vivid salad plate for the centre of the table. The dressing is one with spices – cinnamon, fennel, pepper, garlic – and orange blossom water to boost the orange flavour.
The recipe is one of Ottolenghi’s salads that is herb based (see Ettie’s Salad and Celery and Lemon Salad, from Plenty More, for example). Salads based on herbs are common from Afghanistan right around to Israel and Palestine, and through the Mediterranean across to the coast of Africa. Some are very simple – Irani Herbs with Radishes and Salt (no dressing), for example, and the Turkish Bowl of Herbs with a simple dressing. Then there is an Orange Salad, just with a simple dressing. This one is more complex and Ottolenghi has combined several of those simpler salads into one, very delicious, salad.
Similar recipes include Orange and Date Salad, Moroccan Orange and Olive Salad, Spinach and Watercress Salad with Ricotta, Moroccan Salad with Radishes, Saffron, Date and Almond Rice, Halloumi and Orange Salad, and Chilli Orange Olive Salad.
For millennia, dates have been considered an energy giving tonic by many cultures. Taken to the next level by Ayurveda (the Indian traditional medical system), dates are combined with other healing and energy giving substances – ghee, saffron, cardamom, cinnamon and ginger. Rich and sweet, Dates and Saffron Soaked in Spiced Ghee is said to nourish and revitalize your deepest tissues. This mixture is a classic rasayana, a tonic for rejuvenation. It is also an ancient love potion! Whether you want to love another person, or your life, or just find more happiness in your day, this is definitely or you.
Healing and love making, what more is need from a tonic that is more like a snack than medicine? It is said to strengthen immunity as well as aid digestion.tes and Alm
You might like to also try our Saffron Rasayana for the Weary and Dates Milk to fight Fatigue. Try some other Ayurvedic dishes: Cardamom, Coriander and Fennel Tea, Ginger and Tulsi Tea, and Diet and Consciousness.
Dates are quite a wonderful food item. Lately I have been buying them from a local Afghan grocery. Their dates are fat and juicy and are perfect for snacking.
Dates are used in several cultures as strong healing ingredients, and fighters of energy lapses. Enjoy this drink morning or night to overcome energy sapping tiredness. Dates are soaked in milk for some hours to make the tonic. It is surprisingly sweet and delicious, not at all a medicinal taste.
You might like to also try our Saffron Rasayana for the Weary and Dates and Saffron Soaked in Spiced Ghee. Try some other Ayurvedic recipes: Cardamon, Coriander and Fennel Tea, Ginger and Tulsi Tea, and Diet and Consciousness.