I have always wanted to make a Fattoush salad ever since I was introduced to it many, many years ago in Michigan by a friend. The salad looked so simple and yet the tangy blend of spices caused my flavor receptors to just burst out singing. The basic Fattoush salad recipe starts with leftover pita bread that has been baked till they are crunchy, tossed with lettuce and other ingredients in a citrusy dressing. The a key ingredient in the tangy Fattoush salad dressing is a Middle Eastern spice called Sumac.
Recently, when I went looking at the International Food Bazaar for ingredients to make a simple tahini and date syrup dip (which a friend had introduced to me), I ended up also finding Sumac. I did not hesitate to grab the sumac I found and that very week, I made Fattoush salad.
Unfortunately on the day I made the Fattoush salad, I did not have pita bread. Fortunately, I had lavash (to go with the aforementioned dip, remember?). I figured I could use lavash just as easily for the salad. Perhaps the chips wouldn’t be as sturdy as pita but I was sure I could work it. All I did was cut up the lavash into small squares and then toast them in my oven till they were dry and crunchy.
Putting the salad together couldn’t be easier. Many recipes call for similar ingredients but they all had enough variances that I knew this was a recipe you could easily adapt to whatever you had on hand. Some things you would want to have for sure like romaine lettuce, mint leaves, cucumbers and tomatoes. Others you could toss in as you felt like it. I saw ingredients like red onion, flat-leaf parsley, purslane, red bell peppers, olives and feta cheese in some recipes (not all in the same one though).
I was very happy to note that the Fattoush salad calls for mint. See, I just started my herb garden and one of the things that I have growing in there that is able to take over my garden if not trimmed regularly is the spearmint. I’m not too concerned at this stage as I have been using the herb for so many applications (lychee mojito anyone?) and it’s still rather tiny, but it could easily overrun my little garden if I’m not vigilant.
I went out to my herb garden and vigorously snipped my mint plant till it looked quite small. My daughter was worried I had lopped off too much and even Nate was a little concerned. But I knew better. And today, (two months later), it’s about to take over that little patch of the garden already (guess it’s time to make Fattoush again!).
This salad is perfect if you are experiencing a hot day. The refreshing tartness from the lemon juice and sumac in the dressing along with the mint gives this salad that coolness you look for on a hot day. Don’t worry about it being overly tart—the lavash or pita balances out the salad perfectly.
Fattoush Salad Recipe
Prep time: 30 min / Total time: 1 hour
serves 4-8, depending on whether it’s a main or side
2 pita bread, sliced into long strips, and toasted in the oven till crisp, then broken by hand to get chips, OR 1-2 lavash bread, cut into 1 inch squares and toasted in the oven till crisp
2 heads Romaine hearts
1 bunch mint (enough for about 1/4-1/2 cup of leaves)
1 large English cucumber, peeled and seeded (if seedy), halved length-wise and sliced
2-3 Roma tomatoes, large diced (do not drain as the juices will be soaked up by the pita chips)
3-4 green onions, diced
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, rough chopped (leaves only)
1/2 medium red onion, sliced thin (if you want to take the bite out of the onion, soak sliced onion in cold water for half an hour, then drain and dry well)
Juice from 2-3 lemons, about 1/2 cup
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp minced garlic (you can add the salt to the garlic and pound in a mortar till you get a paste or just mince with your knife adding a little salt to get it to become pasty)
2 tsp sumac (more to sprinkle on top of salad)
1-2 tsp pomegranate syrup (you can substitute honey if you don’t have the syrup)
Fattoush Salad Dressing Ingredients
1. Start by making the dressing. Combine all the ingredients and whisk. Taste and adjust seasonings. Set aside.
2. Combine all the salad ingredients in a large bowl, except for the pita/lavash chips.
Fattoush Salad Ingredients
3. When ready to serve, add dressing to the salad and toss and then add the chips and toss one more time. I find that using clean hands to toss the salad is the best way to ensure that the dressing and ingredients all get mixed well.
Fattoush Salad Tossing
4. Sprinkle more sumac on top of salad if you like.
Check out other recipes using sumac by:
101 Cookbooks: Za’atar
David Lebovitz: Ottolenghi’s Fried Beans with Sorrel, Feta and Sumac
eCurry: Turkish Red Lentil Soup with Sumac
Kalyn’s Kitchen: Sumac-Rubbed Salmon, Roasted in Olive Oil
No Recipes: Sweet Potato Sumac Gratin with Meringue