Fattoush: There's no Better way to Celebrate the Summer!
By: Blanche Shaheen/Arab America Contributing Writer
There is no better way to celebrate the summer harvest than with fattoush, a crisp salad of vegetables and herbs accented with tangy lemon and sumac. Fattoush actually might be one of the very first salads in history to use croutons. This popular salad belongs to the family of Arab dishes known as fattat (plural of fatteh), where the dishes incorporate stale pita bread, as Arab cooks never let any bread go to waste. Traditionally the bread would be cut into small rectangles and deep-fried to add a crispy texture, but you can also bake the croutons with much less oil for a healthier, yet still tasty alternative. The vegetables consist of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and onions cut into relatively large pieces compared to tabbouleh which requires ingredients to be finely chopped. Herbs like mint and parsley add freshness and flavor, and good quality extra virgin olive oil is essential to bring the elements together.
Sumac, the main spice in this dish, is made from the dried dark purple berries of a bush that grows wild in the Middle East. It has a distinctive lemony and astringent flavor and is relatively inexpensive. Middle Eastern cuisine uses sumac often to flavor meats and vegetables. If you like a bit of sweetness in your salads, you may also add a bit of antioxidant-rich pomegranate molasses. This molasses is versatile for both sweet and savory dishes. If you want a shortcut, you can purchase pita chips for the croutons, though homemade pita chips are more delicious and only take about 15 extra minutes to make. This salad should be served immediately and makes a light and fresh accompaniment to seafood and chicken dishes.
To see the tutorial that now for this popular recipe that has more than 300,000 views, click on the video below:
Fattoush (Arabic chopped salad with lemon-garlic vinaigrette) Serves 6-8
1 ½ cups pita bread, cut into roughly 1-inch pieces (or store-bought pita chips if short on time)
Olive oil for brushing bread
4 large tomatoes, diced
4 cucumbers (Persian, Japanese or English), sliced
1 green pepper, diced
1/2 cup sliced scallions
2 radishes, thinly sliced
½ cup chopped mint leaves or 1 tbsp. dried mint
1/2 cup chopped parsley
6 leaves romaine lettuce, chopped
For the lemon-garlic vinaigrette:
Juice of 1/2 lemon, or to taste
Salt to taste
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 to 2 tablespoons sumac (available in Middle Eastern markets)
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses (optional)
1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra olive oil for brushing bread
For fresh Palestinian olive oil, you can try www.harvestpeace.com and use code BlancheTV for 10% off
Brush the olive oil on both sides of the bread pieces, then sprinkle them with salt. Bake the pita pieces in a shallow pan at 400 degrees for 12 minutes or until nicely browned. Let cool. You can also deep fry the bread by heating up a saucepan of avocado oil on medium heat, then frying the pitas until golden brown. If using store-bought pita chips you can skip this step.
Combine the tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, green pepper, scallions, radishes, mint leaves and parsley in a salad bowl. Combine all of the vinaigrette ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid, cover, and shake to blend. Toss the vegetables with dressing. Add the toasted bread pieces to the salad and combine right before serving to ensure extra crunch.
Blanche Shaheen is a journalist, host of the YouTube cooking show called Feast in the Middle East and a cookbook author. For more authentic and classical Middle Eastern recipes, you can now purchase her brand new cookbook: “Feast in the Middle East, A Personal Journey of Family and Cuisine” by clicking HERE:https://secure.mybookorders.com/Orderpage/2189
To check out her cooking video tutorials and other recipes follow Blanche on
Her blog at https://feastinthemiddleeast.wordpress.com/
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