Medjool Date and Nut Pasta

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Fresh fruit and veg from our local market in Istanbul

AKA what I call my husband’s ‘Mediterranean Pasta’

When we lived in Istanbul, grocery shopping was an adventure because we couldn’t always find the ingredients for dishes we were used to cooking and although I spoke decent Turkish, my food vocabulary was appallingly limited (and I did have a smart phone so no google translate in the spice aisle).  We’d look up recipes, go out to the store, and realise we couldn’t get a third of what was required.  So we learned to cook differently.  We cooked more Turkish food (obviously) and more of our meals had a Mediterranean taste.  Best two years of eating of my life.

My husband did all the cooking in those days because he was doing a PhD and usually finished his studies a bit earlier than I got home from work – or at least he took a break!  One day he noticed that our cupboard was kind of bare, but we did have dates, walnuts, spinach, lemons, pasta, and the Turkish equivalent of feta cheese.  Enter those ingredients into google and voila!

Here is our favourite pasta dish that we eat a couple of times a month, like to serve house guests and visitors, and even bring to parties.  I know dates aren’t everyone’s thing, and if they’re not, you need to get on the date train and never look back.  Nature’s candy!

I don’t know if this is the original website where my husband found the recipe, but here is where I’ve found it.

Medjool and Date Nut Pasta

Ingredients:

8 ounces spinach leaves, loosely packed

½ cup pitted, chopped Medjool dates

4 ounces toasted, chopped walnuts

⅓ cup plus

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup crumbled Feta cheese (4 ounces)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

1 clove garlic, sliced into several pieces

1 cup fresh breadcrumbs

1 lb. fettuccine

Instructions:

  1. Wash the spinach leaves, spin dry and chop. Toss the dates and spinach leaves together in a large bowl with the walnuts, ⅓ cup of the olive oil, the feta cheese, lemon juice, and pepper. Set aside.
  2. In a small skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sauté the garlic slices for about 30 seconds. Remove the garlic and add the breadcrumbs to the pan and cook over medium heat until lightly browned.
  3. Cook the pasta in salted water until tender, following the directions on the package. Drain. Toss the spinach mixture with the cooked pasta and season to taste.
  4. Divide among six plates and sprinkle the toasted breadcrumbs on top. Serve immediately.
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