|Photo: Fattoush (Lebanese "Crumbled Bread" Salad with |
Sumac and Pita Chips) Recipe
Fattoush is a Lebanese version of bread salad that includes crumbled pita chips, (fattoush means "crumbled bread" in Arabic) and all the ingredients are tossed with a lemon juice and olive oil dressing that's seasoned with powdered Sumac. Sumac (soo-mack) has a slightly lemony flavor, and it's the Sumac, the lemon, and the fresh herbs that really bump this salad up to something memorable you'll want to make over and over.
Makes 4 large main-dish salads or 6 small side salads
2 whole wheat pita pocket breads, cut into strips about 3/4 inch wide, then toasted and crumbled
2 heads Romaine lettuce, chopped
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onion
1 cup diced tomatoes (let drain a minute or two if extra juicy)
1 cup diced cucumber (same size as tomatoes)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley (leaves only, no stems)
optional ingredients: chopped green pepper or radishes (I didn't use either of these but Lori's recipe had green peppers and I saw several recipes that added chopped radishes.)
1 tsp. chopped garlic (2-4 cloves garlic)
1 tsp. salt (I used fine grind sea salt)
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice, about 2 large lemons (I love lemon, so adjust the amount to your own taste)
1 tsp. powdered Sumac, plus more for sprinkling on individual salads if desired)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven or toaster oven to 400F/200C. While oven heats, mash together the chopped garlic and salt using a mortar and pestle, or the side of a knife or spoon. Put garlic-salt paste in a small bowl, then add lemon juice and 1 tsp. Sumac. Whisk in olive oil and set dressing aside. (You can also make the dressing in a glass jar and shake to combine.)
Cut whole wheat pita into strips about 3/4 inch wide and arrange on baking sheet. (Some recipes call for brushing the pita with olive oil, but I didn't do that.) Bake until pita strips are crisp but only barely starting to brown, less than 10 minutes. Watch carefully because they can go from crisp to overly brown rather quickly.
Remove outer leaves from Romaine, trim stem end, then wash and spin dry or dry with paper towels. Cut Romaine into fourths lengthwise, then turn and chop crosswise into small pieces. (If you have a salad spinner, you can chop the Romaine first, then wash.) Put chopped Romaine into salad bowl large enough toss all ingredients.
Chop tomatoes, green onions, cucumbers, mint, and parsley and add to lettuce. Add about half of the dressing and toss, then add crumbled pita chops and toss again with more dressing. (You may not want all the dressing, but this salad should be quite wet.) At this point the salad should sit for a few minutes (or longer) to let flavors blend and so the pita chips absorb some of the dressing. To serve, arrange salad on individual plates and sprinkle with a bit more Sumac. You can also serve it in a large bowl with the Sumac sprinkled over.
When I first tested the recipe I made enough for two large salads, ate one for dinner, and put the rest in the fridge overnight. I was surprised how great it still tasted the next day, even though the vegetables were fairly wilted. When I made this for guests I tossed the salad together before they arrived, and it was perfect when I served it about 30 minutes later.