Fattoush (Lebanese Toasted Pita Bread Salad)
Source: Joyce Goldstein, Inside the California Food Revolution
This recipe was demonstrated for Foodwise’s Market to Table program on August 9, 2014.
Fattoush is a Lebanese variation of tabbouleh, the classic Middle Eastern wheat salad, but instead of using bulgur, it uses toasted pita bread. Fatta means torn into pieces, so please do not pre-cut the bread into precise little squares before toasting—it is antithetical to the dish and looks so commercial. After the pita rounds are baked and crisp, break them up with your fingers.
For maximum crunch, dress the salad just before serving so the bread does not become soggy. Like tabbouleh, it typically takes a lemon and olive oil dressing enhanced with tart sumac and lots of fresh mint and parsley. Adding the fleshy purslane is optional, as it is not readily found in many markets. It is, however, worth seeking out at farmers markets.
Under a pan-Mediterranean umbrella where ingredients from the region may be used whether they are proprietary to the recipe or not, you’ll find feta cheese added to fattoush—not authentic, but tasty.
Serves 4 to 6
4 large or 8 small pita breads
½ cup olive oil (approximate measurement)
Juice of 2 lemons, or to taste
2 teaspoons ground sumac
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2½ to 3 cups diced tomato (½-inch dice)
2 cups diced cucumber (peeled and seeded, if necessary, ½-inch dice)
½ cup very finely diced red onion
6 tablespoons finely chopped green onion, including tender green tops
½ cup chopped mint
1 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
4 cups loosely packed romaine lettuce strips (cut or torn 1 inch wide)
2 cups chopped purslane (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Place the pita breads on a baking sheet and bake until dry, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and, when cool enough to handle, break into large bite-size pieces.
In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice and sumac, adding salt and pepper to taste.
In a large salad bowl, combine the tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, green onion, mint, and parsley, and add half the dressing. Toss in the pita pieces, romaine, and purslane, if using, and toss with the remaining dressing.
Photo by Jennifer Kregear.