I recently made this salad for a dinner party and everyone loved it! We liked it so much that we made a second batch of it after we ate the main course. It’s loosely based on a salad in the Plenty cookbook by Ottolenghi. I failed to pick up the turkish sheep cheese that the original recipe called for, but I did have some Kashkaval, which is a mild, soft, earthy sheep cheese from the Balkans. I think that any sheep cheese would be delicious here. I did not use red swiss chard or red basil leaves that the recipe called for, but I found the combination of green basil, arugula and dill to be wonderful. Then at the last minute, I discovered that my pomegranate molasses had hardened into a solid block so I used sorghum syrup , tamarind concentrate and sherry vinegar instead (yes I keep a lot of unusual ingredients in my pantry). I think that a lot of lemon juice and bit of vinegar and a tiny bit of blackstrap molasses or maple syrup would have worked just as well.
ARUGULA AND HERB SALAD WITH DATES, ALMONDS AND SHEEP CHEESE
- 2 handfuls of whole almonds (or more)
- 5 or 6 Large pitted medjool dates (or more)
- A big bunch of arugula (about 4 cups)
- A few sprigs of fresh dill
- A bunch of basil (about 1 cup of leaves, packed)
- 3 or 4 Tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 teaspoons of pomegranate molasses (or 2 teaspoons of sorghum syrup, blackstrap molasses or dark maple syrup with the juice of an entire lemon and a teaspoon of vinegar. Throw in a 1/2 teaspoon of tamarind concentrate if you have it.)
- salt and pepper
- 4 or 5 oz of sheep cheese (such as kashkaval)
- Toast the almonds in a 300 degree oven for 10 minutes and then chop them in half.
- Slice the dates into a size that you like.
- Wash, dry and combine all of the greens and herbs in a large bowl.
- In a small bowl combine the oil, whatever you are using for the sweet and sour element, salt and pepper. Taste it and adjust the balance of sweet, sour, rich and salty to your liking.
- When you are ready to serve the salad toss the herbs and greens with the dressing and then top the salad with the almonds, dates and crumbles of the cheese.