When I travel to Ireland and visit family I never feel my visit is quite complete unless I’ve had my day in Dublin. A city that holds many memories, from the time spent as a student at catering college, working various jobs, the meeting of friends and the countless shopping trips. Also, seeking out favourite cafés and restaurants to have a “cup of tea and a bakery bun” or something a little more filling. One place I always love to visit is the mini department store Avoca, almost never leaving empty-handed. I didn’t really need another cookbook… but then again, I must have! A Year at Avoca cookbook is a calendar of the cafés favourite seasonal recipes and my sister says that this is her “feel good cookbook” and I couldn’t agree more.
When the weather is hot, a delicious and healthy salad is always a welcoming choice and with plenty of dates in season I thought this would be a lovely recipe to share from the Avoca cookbook. The ingredients of the salad inspired by the exotic flavours of Morocco and Tunisia. The original recipe uses goats cheese and suggests using blood oranges when in season. I used a creamy feta cheese as not everyone in my family likes goats cheese. For the salad dressing I used less cumin than the recipe stated, which was 1/2 teaspoon. Used olive oil instead of extra virgin oil and did not add black pepper to the dressing.
Baby Spinach Salad with Dates, Oranges, Pomegranate and Feta Cheese dressed with a Spiced Citrus Dressing
Recipe adapted from the “A Year at Avoca” cookbook.
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into very fine strips (this julienne peeler is handy) or coarsely grated
- 12 soft dates, stoned and quartered
- 1 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 oranges, segmented
- seeds of 1 pomegranate
- 3 tablespoons of lightly toasted pine nuts, reserve 1 tablespoon to scatter over top of salad
- 4 large handfuls of baby spinach, washed and dried (a salad spinner makes this job really easy)
- 150g of creamy feta cheese, cut into small cubes
for the dressing
- juice of 1 orange
- juice of half a lemon
- pinch of sugar
- 2 pinches of cumin
- 1 pinch of cinnamon
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- sea salt
How to make: Start by making the dressing. To concentrate the flavours; pour the orange and lemon juice into a small saucepan and bring to a boil, lower the heat and gently simmer for a couple of minutes until reduced by half. Remove from the heat and whisk in the sugar, cumin and cinnamon. Transfer to a small bowl and when cool whisk in the olive oil. Season lightly (as feta cheese is salty) with sea salt. Set aside.
In a large salad bowl add the carrots, dates, onion, orange segments, pomegranate seeds and 2 tablespoons of the pine nuts, gently toss together. Add the spinach leaves and dressing and gently toss all the ingredients together. Place the pieces of feta cheese over the top of the salad and scatter over the reserved pine nuts. Serve immediately. Serves 4