Orange, Date and Spinach Salad with Lemon-Cardamom (and mint!) Dressing

buttermilk salad side

There are some food bloggers who say things like, do you really need a recipe for a salad? Or a sandwich? I mean, who among us does not know how to make one of these things? But it's a silly restriction, because it's not about instruction. It's about flavor combinations, and we could all use some help breaking out of our old stand-bys. So yes, I realize you know how to make a salad. But the point is, maybe you've never made this salad, and maybe if you did, you'd really like it. I loved it. I loved it so much, that I ate all 4 servings over the course of about 1 1/2 days. By the way, those must be 4 main-course servings.


And, you know sometimes when you've baked something with buttermilk, but then you have most of the carton left over? And then, when you're trying to figure out how to use the rest of it up, suggestions of more things to bake aren't really that helpful since you've just, you know, baked something? Well you can use some of it for this dressing and have a nice salad to go with your breads, cookies and cakes. Sometimes it's good to have both hanging around.

buttermilk salad top

It's somewhat heavily adopted from a Cooking Light recipe. Because I've noticed Cooking Light often restricts things like dressing to a fault. And this, in my opinion, was a wonderful dressing. Not that I like my salads doused, but still. Also, the original recipe called for endive, but I went with spinach. I realize it's a totally different beast as a result. But I like it my way, and I think the spinach required a little extra dressing because of its bulk. Oh, and the last thing is that I decided to bloom my red onion in the juice of the lemon whose zest was used in the dressing. Blooming, or rather, just dousing your onion in something acidic, like lemon or lime juice, calms down the raw bite it can otherwise have, and it adds a wonderful extra flavor. It was a good move, and you should try it, too.

Orange, Date and Spinach Salad with Lemon-Cardamom (and Mint!) Dressing
Adopted from Cooking Light's Annual Recipes, 2004

For the dressing:
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 teaspoons chopped fresh mint
grated zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon held aside for the salad
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the Salad:
1 bunch spinach, rinsed and dried
3 medium-sized oranges, pulled apart into sections
1 bunch radishes, sliced
1 medium-sized red onion, thinly sliced
about 7 sliced pitted dates (or more, I'd go for more)
4 teaspoons chopped fresh mint

In a small bowl, place the sliced onion and pour the reserved lemon juice over it. Set aside.

For the dressing, whisk all of the ingredients together in a small bowl.

For the salad, umm, toss all of those ingredients together, including the lemon juice-soaked red onion. Serve with the dressing.


Sarah said…
A lovely salad. I really enjoy reading recipes for salad--veggies are my favourite things, and anything that inspires us to eat more of them suits me fine. You are right, this salad sounds delicious. My preferred buttermilk dressing is the Moosewood house dressing: buttermilk whizzed with basil and spinach leaves and lemon juice.
Andrea said…
Ooh, I have a bunch of Moosewood cookbooks, I love them. AND, I still have some buttermilk left. Thanks for the tip (as usual!)
I love using buttermilk in unbaked preparations and in fact have some in the fridge now. I am most definitely making this dressing tonight - it's right up my alley. Thanks!

Oh, I also love buttermilk ice cream :)
Christine said…
Wow! This is a nice recipe. I am a salad fan and I now I know what to do with my extra buttermilk. I often look for salad recipe at Foodista (
I'm always up for a salad recipe as there are so many flavours to combine. Its too easy to get stuck in the same salad rut. Those ingredients are great, will definitely play around with them, so thanks.
Alex said…
Definitely going to try this salad soon!
By the way, if you have some buttermilk and don't know what to do with it: Have you tried mixing buttermilk with sparkling mineral water (and, if you want to a dash of lemon juice)? That's my favourite and most refreshing summer drink! :)
Andrea said…
Alex, I haven't tried that but it sounds strangely wonderful. It's still freezing here in NYC, but I'll definitely give it a try when it warms up a bit. Thanks!

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