aberdeen grape salad with spinach and sweet tahini

spinach salad with tahini date dressing

There are these grapes that show up in the Hong Kong fruit markets around this time of year, and I don’t know what they’re called or where they come from, but I call them Aberdeen grapes because there’s a little fruit stand that sometimes sells them by Aberdeen and Hollywood. I think they might be Australian sable seedless grapes, but I don’t really have a clue. They’re purplish black all the way through, and so incredibly sweet—and while they stain your fingers and cutting board when you slice them, they’re so worth it.

My favorite thing to do with these (other than eat them by the bunch) is to put them in my favorite salads. If this particular variety (whatever it may be called) isn’t available where you are, you can totally use whatever you can find. This salad is delicious with just about any grape, or even blueberries or blackberries. Look for ones that are sweet, seedless, flavorful, and not too tart.

spinach salad with tahini date dressing
spinach salad with tahini date dressing

This particular salad is made with one of my favorite dressings—tahini and date molasses. The two are a middle eastern staple, and many people liken this classic combination to PB&J, since it’s sweet, nutty, and so often eaten with bread. Here, I’ve added some lemon juice and a little water to make it more of a lemon vinaigrette. You can sub honey or another natural sweetener (it’ll still be delicious), but the date molasses gives it an unmatchable depth of flavor.

spinach salad with tahini date dressing
spinach salad with tahini date dressing

aberdeen grape salad with spinach and sweet tahini

yield: 4 to 6 servings
total time: 15 minutes
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spinach salad

  • 1/4 of 1 very small red onion (or 1 small shallot), sliced very thinly

  • (optional) 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

  • 1/2 tablespoon butter or oil

  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds

  • 7 ounces baby spinach

  • 3/4 cup dark purple seedless grapes, sliced in half (can sub red grapes, or blueberries/blackberries)

  • 14.5 ounce can butter beans (can sub any other white bean)

  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds

  • 2 ounces feta, crumbled (feel free to use more, leaving it in bigger chunks)

  • 1 batch tahini date dressing (below)

  1. (Optional) Toss the red onion slices in the red wine vinegar, let them pickle for just 10 minutes, and then strain them very well. Otherwise, just use them sliced, as is.

  2. Heat the butter or oil in a medium skillet over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Add the almonds and stir constantly for about 5 minutes, just until they take on a little color. Using a slotted spoon, remove the almonds to a paper-towel-lined plate, leaving the oil behind in the pan.

  3. Once the almonds have cooled down for a minute or two, place the spinach in a big bowl, and top with the grapes, beans, sesame seeds, feta, dressing, and toasted almonds. Toss everything together to combine, and serve right away.

tahini date dressing

  • 1/4 cup tahini

  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice

  • 2 tablespoons water

  • 2 tablespoons date syrup *

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  1. Whisk together the tahini and lemon juice until it forms a paste with a mayo-like consistency.

  2. Whisk in the water, date molasses, and salt. If it doesn’t thin out to your liking, you can add a little extra water and/or lemon juice, 1 teaspoon at a time.

* You can find date syrup/date molasses (same thing) at most Middle Eastern markets, health food stores, and online, but if you can't find any near you, feel free to substitute honey (and feel free to include a few drops of blackstrap molasses if you want to give it more color and depth of flavor, or choose a buckwheat honey). If using honey, hold back a little, because it’s usually more sugary than date molasses.

spinach salad with tahini date dressing

za'atar breakfast skillet

za'atar skillet

It’s so hard to know what kind of recipe to post the week after Christmas. With New Year’s resolutions around the corner, no one really wants to bake, but it’s not time for penitential eating quite yet. And after all the feasting and entertaining, everyone’s a little cooked out too. So I thought I’d post a recipe for something easy, practical, and delicious: a za’atar skillet with wilted spinach and fried eggs. It’s nothing fancy, just a simple breakfast made with simple ingredients. It’s the kind of thing you’d find in your favorite diner—a bed of perfectly crispy potatoes, topped with a few of your favorite veggies, and sunny-side-up eggs (but here, I’ve added za’atar and a yogurt tahini sauce, because I couldn’t resist).

While one-pan-wonders are indeed wonderful, I like to use two pans for this, to make sure the spinach doesn’t make the potatoes soggy. But you can use the same pan you used to cook the eggs, which saves on cleanup. If you prefer scrambled, poached, or over-easy, feel free to go with your egg of choice. And if you feel like it, you can even crack them right on top of the potatoes, and throw them under the broiler for a few minutes. If you don’t feel like spinach, most other veggies work wonderfully here—try kale, blistered cherry tomatoes, or zucchini. This recipe is very adaptable, and the basic concept (which you should always remember) is tried and true: dusting za’atar on potatoes will never lead you wrong.

za'atar skillet
za'atar skillet

za’atar breakfast skillet

yield: 4 servings
total time: 25 minutes
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  • neutral oil with a high smoke point (e.g., olive oil, but not extra virgin)

  • 1 pound potatoes, small-diced

  • Salt

  • 2 tablespoons green za'atar

  • 2 tablespoons plain whole milk yogurt

  • 2 tablespoons tahini

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 1 tablespoon water

  • 3 to 4 eggs

  • 6 ounces spinach leaves

  • 1 scallion, greens chopped

  1. Heat 2 to 3 tablespoons oil in a non-stick or well-seasoned cast iron skillet over medium or medium-high heat, until the oil is hot enough that a potato sizzles when it touches it.

  2. Add the potatoes, along with 1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste). Spread them out evenly over the bottom of the skillet, and let them sit for a couple minutes before stirring them. Stir every couple minutes for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the potatoes are golden brown and cooked through. Once they're done, remove from heat and stir in the za'atar.

  3. While you wait on the potatoes, whisk together the yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, water, and a pinch of salt, until it's totally smooth.

  4. Also while you wait, fry your eggs however you like. Here's how I do it: Heat a small skillet over high heat for at least 3 minutes, until it’s very hot. Add about 1 or 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan, swirl it around, and immediately crack an egg wherever the oil is pooling. Be very careful—it will splatter violently. While the egg is cooking, season it with some salt and (carefully!) baste it by spooning hot oil onto the whites to help them cook faster. The egg is done once the whites are set and brown on the bottom and around the edges (just about 2 minutes). Remove to a plate and repeat if you’re making multiple servings (replace some of the oil as you go) (eggs inspired by Smitten Kitchen).

  5. Once the eggs are done, remove them to a plate, pour off the old oil, replace with a teaspoon of new oil, and add the spinach leaves and a pinch of salt. Keep over high heat to wilt the spinach (stir it constantly for about 2 to 3 minutes, until it's bright green and wilted). Most of the liquid should cook off, but if the spinach looks watery after 3 minutes, wring it out with the back of a spoon and strain away the liquid.

  6. Combine the spinach with the potatoes, stir everything together, top with the yogurt sauce, crispy eggs, green onions, and a little extra za'atar, and serve.

za'atar skillet