Was he really there? Not that I am aware of, but his salads were part of my niece’s meals every single day we stayed there last Thanksgiving. My youngest niece Raquel is a fantastic cook and has a ton of energy: with three young kids, she still finds time to make bread, bake all sorts of sweets (cakes included, she’s got the right genes), and exercise on a regular basis. Phil and I stayed with her, her hubby Celso and the kids during part of our last visit, and we were treated like royalty! She also hosted a lunch for our whole family that consisted of Brazilian classics like feijoada, pastéis, mandioca frita, farofa, mashed plantains, and a chocolate mousse with cachaça that swept Phil off his feet. Almost literally. Not the type of dessert appropriate for kids, mind you… Knowing that my goal was to leave Brazil with the exact same weight I had upon my arrival, she prepared several salads from Plenty, so that I could resort to a light meal every once in a while. My favorite was a salad with dates and chèvre, so when I arrived back home, I sat down with Jerusalem, Plenty, and Plenty More to be properly inspired.
BABY GREENS SALAD WITH DATES, ORANGES AND ALMONDS
(modified from Ottolenghi & Tamimi Jerusalem cookbook)
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
3 ½ ounces pitted Medjool dates, quartered lengthwise
2 large navel orange segments
2 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup sliced almonds
¼ cup sesame seeds
2 teaspoons sumac
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
5 ounces baby greens
2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Put the vinegar and dates in a small bowl, add a pinch of salt and toss mixing well. Leave to marinate for about 15 minutes, then drain and discard any of the residual vinegar. Reserve.
Heat the olive oil in a non-stick skillet, add the slivered almonds, season lightly with salt, and cook until dark golden. Place them on kitchen paper to absorb excess oil. Sprinkle with sumac and red pepper flakes. allow it to cool.
When ready to serve the salad, place the baby greens in a large bowl. Add one tablespoon of olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Toss to coat the leaves with dressing. Add the oranges, and dates, tossing it all gently again. Top with the almond mixture and the sesame seeds.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: if you have Jerusalem, this version was a departure from his spinach salad with dates and toasted pita bread. I am sure it is even more delicious, but I kept it simple this time, and used a nice coating with sesame seeds, plus orange segments which I think go very well with the dates. I love the unique flavor that sesame seeds impart to dishes. We have an Oriental grocery store in town that sells HUGE bottles of plain, toasted, and black sesame seeds from the Middle East for a great price, so I make sure to never run out of them.
And now, time to share a few shots of that wonderful lunch that joined my whole family: two sisters, one brother-in-law, four nieces (two with their respective husbands), 5 of my 6 grandnephews, and of course, my Mom presiding like a Queen over all of us.
Feijoada, a Brazilian classic…
All the “usual suspects” that are mandatory to go with it…
Orange segments, shredded “couve” (similar to kale), farofa, white rice…
Mandioca frita, to die for!
Pastéis, of three kinds: ground beef, cheese, and hearts of palm…
Choose your ticket to paradise!
Before I say goodbye, a little note to tell you that I just started a Facebook page for the Bewitching. It is a bit strange to start a page for a blog that is almost 6 years old, but I joined a Facebook group of bloggers and they advised me to do so. If you want to like the Bewitching on FB, just click on the link on the right side. Thank you!
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FIVE YEARS AGO: Whole Wheat Bread