I absolutely love this time of year! It seems like fresh, local produce is everywhere I turn — in my little garden (which is miraculously doing well!), at the farmer’s market, and at restaurants all over town. Such an inspiration to eat fresh and eat healthy. :-)
One salad in particular that reminds me of everything “fresh” is a classic Fattoush salad. This traditional Lebanese salad, pronounced “fah-too-sh”, is a combination of fresh veggies, a bright citrus dressing, flavorful herbs and toasted pita bread. Actually, the word fattoush means “crumbled bread”, as this salad was originally designed as a way to use up stale pita bread!
In addition to being super-flexible to make, this salad is also very versatile. So feel free to sub in whatever other fresh veggies you like, or play around with the dressing. The ingredient that’s a must, though, is powdered sumac. So if you’ve never cooked with it, run out and pick up a jar of this great lemony spice — I think you’ll love it!
This recipe does make a pretty huge batch, so feel free to halve it if you’re just making side salads or cooking for two. Enjoy!!
- 2 whole-wheat pitas, cut into strips about 3/4 inch wide, then toasted and crumbled
- 1 tsp. chopped garlic (2-4 cloves garlic)
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (add more or less to taste)
- 2 tsp. powdered sumac, plus more for sprinkling on individual salads
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 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 fresh flat-leaf parsley (leaves only, no stems)
- optional: chopped green pepper or radishes
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.
Cut whole wheat pita into strips about 3/4 inch wide and arrange on baking sheet. (Optional: Brush tops of pita with a bit of olive oil before baking.) Bake until pita strips are crisp but only barely starting to brown, less than 10 minutes.
Remove outer leaves from lettuce, trim stem end, then wash and spin dry (or dry with paper towels). Cut lettuce into fourths lengthwise, then turn and chop crosswise into small pieces. (If you have a salad spinner, you can chop the lettuce first, then wash.) Put chopped lettuce 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 until you have your desired amount. 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.