Photo Credit: Alexandra Grablewski
The Arabic word fattoush means “little bread crumbs,” which refers to the crispy pieces of pita that top this favorite Levantine salad of mine. In Lebanese cuisine, as in many others, we are very conscious of using leftovers, and have a whole family of dishes known as fattat, which features day-old bread. Romaine and purslane (Bakleh), are combined with vegetables and herbs then topped with the crunchy pita croutons. If you can’t find purslane, baby arugula or watercress are a great substitute.
MAKES 4 TO 6 SERVINGS
1 large pita pocket or 2 small pita pockets, split into halves
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon sumac spice
2 romaine lettuce hearts, coarsely chopped
1⁄2 each green, red, orange, yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced
3 Persian cucumbers, ends trimmed, quartered, cut into 1⁄4-inch-thick slices on the diagonal
6 radishes, cut into 1⁄4-inch-thick slices
3 scallions, ends trimmed, green and white parts cut into thin strips on the diagonal
3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, picked and left whole
1 cup purslane, watercress, or baby arugula leaves
3 tomatoes, cut into thick wedges
3 garlic cloves, mashed into a smooth paste
1⁄3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1⁄4 cup red or white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sumac spice
1 teaspoon fresh mint leaves, minced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, picked and left whole
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Drizzle both sides of the halved pitas with olive oil and sprinkle with the sea salt and sumac spice. Place on a large baking sheet on the center rack and bake for about 12 to 15 minutes, turning halfway through, until the bread is crispy and golden brown. Immediately remove from oven and set aside.
Layer all the other salad ingredients in a large serving bowl in the order in which they are listed. In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic paste and slowly stream in the olive oil, lemon juice, and vinegar. Season with the salt, black pepper, sumac, mint, and thyme leaves.
Before serving, break the toasted pita halves into small pieces over the vegetables. Pour in the dressing, and toss the salad thoroughly. Serve immediately so that pita pieces remain crunchy.
Copyright 2017 by Julie Ann Sageer in Julie Taboulie’s Lebanese Kitchen, St. Martin’s Press/St. Martin’s Griffin. All Rights Reserved.
RECIPE BY JULIE ANN SAGEER (JULIE TABOULIE)
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