Fattoush is a chunky Mediterranean salad full of healthy veggies and crunchy toasted pita bread — a tangy lemon-sumac dressing makes the dish sing.
Let’s start out the week on the right foot — fill your market basket with the reddest tomatoes, the tiniest cukes, the firmest purple onion, a bright bell pepper, and lots of fresh parsley and mint. Grab a pretty bunch of radishes, some feta cheese, and glossy black olives — and don’t forget the pita bread, lemon, and sumac — we’re going to make fattoush. Fattoush is a Middle Eastern salad, specifically from the Levant region (Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, and Syria.) It’s basically a chopped veggie salad mixed with crisp toasted pita, simply dressed with olive oil, lemon, and sumac.
Fattoush is different from other similar salads in that the ingredients are chopped into larger bite sized pieces, so it has a nice chunky texture. Another identifying feature is the crisp toasted pita bread tossed throughout. If done right, the pita is light and crisp and adds a wonderful crunch to the dish. The pita and the feta cheese make fattoush a good candidate for a light meatless meal.
All the ingredients in fattoush are commonplace, except for the sumac. It’s a deep red, tart spice made from crushed sumac berries that I’ve used many times before here at TVFGI. It looks a little like chili powder, but has a tangy, citrus flavor and it’s popular in Middle Eastern recipes. You can find it in specialty groceries, or of course, always on Amazon. If you like cooking along with me, you will definitely want to stock it in your spice cabinet, I’ve fallen in love how it can wake up a dish. I use it here to flavor a simple dressing of olive oil and fresh lemon juice — simple and unusual.
This salad is a particular favorite of mine, the little crispy bits of pita bread are satisfying but light enough that they don’t weigh the salad down. It’s a wonderful choice for entertaining because it’s out of the ordinary, but doesn’t have any controversial ingredients to bother picky guests. It’s absolutely beautiful, too.
- 1 round of pita bread
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- pinch of onion salt
- 2 ripe tomatoes
- a handful of cherry tomatoes
- 2 small Persian cucumbers, or 1/2 of a larger one
- 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced, or chopped in a small dice
- several radishes, sliced or cut into wedges
- 2 ounces feta cheese, cut in small chunks
- a handful of cured black olives, pitted
- a large handful of clean parsley leaves, chopped
- a smaller handful of mint leaves, rough chopped or torn
- 4 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp sumac
- pinch of salt
- Cut the pita bread into 1 inch squares, and then carefully separate the two layers of the bread, so you are left with single layer squares. Toss them with the olive oil and onion salt until evenly coated.
- Toast the pita in a large skillet over medium heat until they are brown and crisp. Stir and flip them almost constantly and try to keep them in a single layer so they will toast evenly. Set aside.
- Chop the tomatoes into bite size chunks. Halve or quarter the cherry tomatoes. Put them all in a large bowl.
- Slice the Persian cucumbers into bite sized chunks. There is no need to peel them. If you use a regular cucumber, peel and de-seed it first.
- Add the onions, radishes, cheese, and olives to the bowl, along with the fresh parsley and mint.
- Whisk together the dressing ingredients and taste to adjust any of them. If you like it less tangy, add more oil. Toss the salad in enough dressing to moisten. Toss the toasted pita and serve immediately.
- Leafy greens are sometimes included in fattoush recipes, so feel free to extend this salad with your favorite. Purslane, a type of succulent, is traditional. It’s considered a weed here in the US, but is eaten in much of the rest of the world and I’m starting to see it at my farmer’s market. Romaine would be another choice.
- Try to use good tomatoes…I mixed regular, heirloom, and cherry tomatoes for variety. Go with what’s good at the moment.
- I don’t recommend making this salad very far ahead of time. Tomatoes don’t do well in the refrigerator, and the pita bread will lose some of its crunch. If you want to make it up to a few hours in advance, leave out the pita and toss it in at the last minute.
- You can use ready made pita chips in place of the toasted pita if you like.
- Leave out the bread for a gluten free recipe, and leave out the cheese for vegans. This is clean eating at its best.
DON’T FORGET TO PIN IT!