Fattoush is a delicious light summery salad well known across the Middle East. It is packed full of fragrant flavours – lemon, sumac, mint and basil. Fattoush can be served with any Middle Eastern, Mediterranean or even North African main dish making a good light alternative to a couscous based salad. This recipe, from Nigella Lawson, was originally served alongside Za’atar Chicken.
The recipe below is almost the same as the one in the book Forever Summer by Nigella Lawson, in fact it was the repeats of the television programme that accompanied the book that originally alerted me to the recipe. This was, however, just my starting point. Some more research showed me that this is a fairly basic recipe to which other ingredients can be added, as you wish. Optional extra ingredients widely listed are lettuce, radish, parsley, carrot (grated or batons), red or green pepper, red cabbage, black olives or pomegranite seeds (or arils): I particularly like the sound of this final idea. Feta cheese is another optional ingredient which would make this a more substantial salad (in fact this recipe is not unlike Greek Salad and has very similar basic ingredients, with the feta cheese and olives replaced with pieces of pitta bread, basil and sumac). Not unsurprising really given the close proximity of Greece to the area normally considered as the Middle East. It is perfectly acceptable to use pitta breads that are slightly stale: this recipe was used by cooks in the middle east for this very purpose.
Middle Eastern Fattoush Salad
2 pitta breads
3 or 4 spring onions (depending on size) or ½ finely chopped red onion
1 cucumber, quartered lengthwise and chopped
4 tomatoes, chopped
Generous handful of fresh parsley (flat leaf if available), chopped
Generous handful of mint, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed or finely chopped
6-8tbsp olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
1tsp Sumac powder to sprinkle over finished salad
(see also list of optional ingredients above)
1. Prepare the spring onions or red onion, cucumber, tomatoes, herbs and garlic and mix gently but thoroughly together.
2. Dress the salad with the olive oil, lemon juice and a little salt. Refrigerate until almost ready to serve.
3. It is good to have the pitta breads slightly warm and still crisp so this final stage should be done just before serving. Split the pitta breads in half and toast or put in the oven for five minutes. They should be slightly crisp but not completely brittle.
4. Using scissors, snip the toasted pitta breads into medium to small pieces and stir into the salad mixture.
5. Sprinkle over the sumac so it is noticeable but not too thick.